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Officers cleared of wrongdoing in DUI checkpoint death

SALEM (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – A year ago, a local father died just hours after being arrested at a sobriety checkpoint. On Tuesday, prosecutors cleared the officers involved of any wrongdoing. But Kenneth Howe’s family still believes he was the victim of excessive force. In fact, Howe’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit.

Holding up Kenneth Howe’s death certificate, attorney Frances King says she’s not surprised District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett found no fault with state police who arrested him.

Standing with his widow Margaret and teenaged daughter Ashleigh, King says the district attorney just didn’t do his job.

The medical examiner has ruled Howe’s death a homicide. His family believes police used excessive force in arresting him after the truck he was riding in was pulled over at a DUI checkpoint in North Andover.

Photos taken by a news photographer at the scene show several police officers trying to control Howe. On Tuesday the DA announced a struggle with police coupled with an existing heart condition and high blood pressure contributed to his death.

Bblodgett says Howe resisted arrest, had been smoking marijuana and was trying to hide dozens of oxycodone pills from police.

What’s worse, the family maintains they learned of Blodgett’s findings on the news.

The family attorney also called releasing these findings just two days before the anniversary of Howe’s death was insensitive and outrageous. She says she looks forward to trying this in front of a jury in January 2012.

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