A retired Southampton Village police sergeant entered a plea of not guilty in Southampton Town Justice Court Wednesday morning to a charge of assault in the third degree, in relation to an Jan. 31 incident at a Bridgehampton restaurant and bar that put a man in the hospital.
Darren Gagnon, 51, of Shirley, was arrested that night after witnesses told police that he punched a Bridgehampton man in the face and head three times after an argument. The alleged victim was taken to Southampton Hospital and remained there for two nights.
According to witness depositions, Gagnon had wanted to speak with a man at the bar of Bobby Van's who did not wish to speak with him, and a man who never met Gagnon before told him to go away because he was being bothersome. Gagnon returned two more times, and the argument escalated, according to police, who said that on the third time the assault occurred. Gagnon told police, in substance, "I thought he was about to take a swing at me, so I punched him first."
Town Justice Andrea Schiavoni accepted Gagnon's plea and released him on his own recognizance, to return to court on April 24 for a conference date. Gagnon was represented by attorney Edward Burke Jr.
Gagnon's case was originally on the calendar for Wednesday afternoon, but his arraignment was unexpectedly moved up to the morning.
The incident occurred exactly one year and one day after Gagnon's retirement, which followed 24 years with the Southampton Village Police Department.