Portsmouth's Pick to Lead Police Department is Accused of Assault in Civil Lawsuit

May 17, 2017

Photo of Merner posted on the Boston Police Department's website in 2015

The man poised to be the new chief of police in Portsmouth is accused of assault in a pending civil suit.

Robert Merner stands accused of assault while on duty as a Boston police officer in 2013.

Merner denies the allegations, which were the basis of an earlier lawsuit dismissed by a judge in Massachusetts.

City officials and even Merner himself say they were not aware that an amended version of the suit had been filed until it was reported by the Portsmouth Herald.

Portsmouth officials are standing by their choice of Merner. Joe Onosko is a member of the city’s police commission.

“One allegation after thirty years of policing, is no basis with which to terminate a job offer to a spectacular law enforcement leader.”

Merner was chosen to lead Portsmouth’s police force out of a field of six finalists.

He is expected to sign a formal job offer next week.