LAWRENCE, Mass. — A veteran Lowell police officer charged with killing a man while driving drunk was overheard on his cellphone attempting to flee the scene of the weekend accident, a prosecutor said Monday during his arraignment.
Eric Wayne, 41, pleaded not guilty in Lawrence District Court to charges that included motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol.
Police say Wayne was driving west on Route 110 in Methuen at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday when he crossed the center line and struck an SUV head-on. The driver, Briant Paula, 26, of Lawrence, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Paula’s sister, who was in the passenger seat, was injured.
In court Monday, Assistant District Attorney Michelle DeFeo said witnesses reported overhearing Wayne talking on his cellphone shortly after the accident, allegedly saying, “I have to get the (expletive) out of here.”
DeFeo also said Wayne gave a false name and stated his date of birth when a police officer asked him for his address.
“He stated he didn’t know it was going to happen like this,” DeFeo said.
Prosecutors asked Judge Lynn Rooney to set bail at $500,000, while defense attorney Carmine Lepore asked that his client be held on $10,000 bail. Lepore did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Rooney revoked Wayne’s bail on a 2013 drunken driving arrest and set a $100,000 cash bail in the motor vehicle homicide case.
Lowell police said Wayne was placed on administrative leave after the earlier arrest but was reinstated in June.
Wayne also is an amateur boxer who made a cameo appearance in “The Fighter,” a 2010 film about Lowell boxer Mickey Ward.