fire

Leicester Woman Charged After Trying to Put Out Fire at Own Home

Kelly O'Brien faces several charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and interfering with a firefighter

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A Massachusetts woman who was put in handcuffs in front of her children as her home burned in July now faces several charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and interfering with a firefighter.

Kelly O'Brien, of Leicester, said she ran outside July 26, 2019, and used a garden hose to try to extinguish the flames coming from her Henshaw Street home. She said an officer, who arrived before firefighters, confronted her, grabbed her and then handcuffed her.

"I've never felt helpless like that before," she said. "Like somebody can really hurt me, and I can't do anything about it."

O'Brien said she was then escorted to a cruiser, where the handcuffs were eventually removed. She was never arrested.

In a cell phone video recorded by her daughter, two officers are seen holding O'Brien, who is screaming to her children.

Days after the incident, she went to the police station to file a complaint and was informed that she now faced criminal charges.

"I didn't know what to say," she said. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'"

O'Brien has since hired an attorney and plans to fight the charges in court.

"It's an outrage, a travesty of justice, to hurt Kelly O'Brien and then bring criminal charges against her on top of that," O'Brien's attorney James McKenna said.

O'Brien's home had to be gutted after the fire, which was caused by an electrical issue.

Leicester Police Chief Kenneth Antanavica said he couldn't comment on the case, but said the officer who handcuffed O'Brien doesn't face any disciplinary action.

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