13 Springfield police officers indicted in assault on black men – The Boston Globe

13 Springfield police officers indicted in assault on black men - The Boston Globe

Springfield Police fallout: 12 officers now suspended without pay; Mass. State Police trooper indicted in case has been relieved of duty

The new charges announced Wednesday by state Attorney General Maura Healeys office and the FBIs Boston office involve an altercation outside Nathan Bills bar on April 8, 2015, and accusations that there was a subsequent attempt to cover it up.

Six of the officers had previously been charged with assault and battery. Another seven current officers, one former officer and a bar manager were charged Wednesday with misleading investigators, filing false police reports and perjury.

Investigators say the off-duty officers had a dispute with four other bar patrons. Authorities say the officers later attacked the men in a nearby parking lot. The bar owner was also charged.

For years, claims of police misconduct — including false reports, brutal beatings, and wrongful convictions — have been lodged against Springfield officers in courtrooms, in the community, and even from within the ranks. In October, a federal grand jury indicted two other Springfield police officers, one of whom resigned in 2016, on charges of using unreasonable force while arresting two Latino boys in February 2016. They pleaded not guilty.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he and Acting Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood would continue to “root out” bad police officers.

“Needless to say, this is not a good day for our Springfield Police Department,” Sarno said in a statement. “Police officers are held to a higher standard.”

In the bar assault, Healey’s office alleges that off-duty Springfield officers and the bar owner beat and kicked the victims after a confrontation at Nathan Bills Bar & Restaurant on April 8, 2015. The victims, authorities said, “sustained significant injuries as a result of the assault, some permanent.’’

Last year, Springfield agreed to pay $885,000 to settle federal civil rights lawsuits brought by the victims in the attack.

The city of Springfield in September 2018 agreed to pay $885,000 to settle federal civil rights lawsuits brought by the alleged victims. One of the victims, a sprinkler installer in his 50s named Paul Cumby, had a broken leg and dislocated ankle, and had four teeth knocked loose during the confrontation, his lawyer has said.

Healeys office has said the victims sustained significant injuries from the attack and that a number of the officers had used weapons.

On Wednesday, prosecutors identified the six officers charged with assault as Daniel Billingsley, 30, of Springfield; Anthony Cicero, 29, of Hampden; Christian Cicero, 28, of Longmeadow; Igor Basovskiy, 34, of Springfield; Jameson Williams, 33, of East Longmeadow; and Jose Diaz, 54, of Springfield.

Gallery: Springfield police officers indicted in alleged off-duty beating of civilians after barroom argument

Bortolussi recently retired, according to the attorney general’s office. The former officer, Perez, is now a trooper with the State Police. That agency relieved him of duty and has scheduled a hearing for Friday to “determine his duty status,’’ an agency spokesman said.

The 12 Springfield police officers who were indicted on allegations they were either involved in the 2015 off-duty beating of a group of men or lied to cover it up have all been suspended without pay.

Sullivan and those six officers are each charged with four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, shod foot; assault and battery causing serious bodily injury; three counts of assault and battery; and conspiracy, Healey’s office said. The grand jury met in Worcester.

Also indicted in the case is a retired Springfield police sergeant as well as a former Springfield cop who has been a member of the Massachusetts State Police for a just a few years. All were indicted by a statewide grand jury convened in Worcester following an investigation by the state attorney generals office.

The former Springfield police officer who is now a trooper assigned to Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gullunis office, Nathanael Perez, was indicted on perjury and misleading a police officer/investigator Wednesday.

The 27-year-old left Springfield police in October 2015. He then joined the Massachusetts State Police after graduating from the academy in April 2016. Perez was first assigned to Troop B.

Sarno, the mayor, said he and Clapprood vow to “root out these negative actions by a few, in order to not take away from all the good work the vast majority of our officers do day in and day out for our Springfield community.”

As a member of the state police, Perez began working for the unit assigned to the Hampden DAs office in December 2017, according to state police.

Fourteen Springfield police officers indicted in alleged off-duty beating of civilians after 2015 barroom argument

“They waited as they wanted to fight,” he said. “The evidence will show that they aggressively attacked my client, cracking his skull and causing him to have surgery.”

The officers are accused of participating in or covering up an attack on four Springfield men following a dispute at Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant.

The facts of this case, he said, “will show that the alleged victims were angry after being thrown out of the bar and waited for over an hour for the patrons to exit the bar.”

A state police spokesman confirmed Perez was relieved of duty Wednesday. His work status will be determined at a Friday hearing, the spokesman said.

The Massachusetts State Police demand and expect that all personnel be truthful at all times and maintain the highest standards of conduct, state police spokesman David Procopio said. The charges against Nathan Perez as alleged in the indictment, if proven, are a stark violation of departmental regulations and the oath to serve honorably.”

Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood released a statement after the indictments were filed Wednesday by a Worcester-based statewide grand jury. The Attorney Generals Office first put the case before a grand jury in February of 2018.

Prosecutors allege that nine Springfield officers as well as the bar owner and bar manager “were part of a long-standing and ongoing cover up of the assault.”

Since April of 2015, multiple agencies, including the Springfield Police Department, have investigated what happened with regard to the incident outside of Nathan Bills, Clapprood said. New information provided to a grand jury in Worcester has led to these indictments years later. The indictments will begin to bring some closure to a four year old incident that has damaged the reputation of the Springfield Police Department.

The acting commissioner will move forward with disciplinary action on each officer as soon as the grand jury evidence is available for the department to review.

The citys Retirement Board will be notified as well, Clapprood said. All of the officers are suspended without pay.

Healey’s office said 11 defendants were also indicted on various charges for “attempting to cover up details of the assault afterwards.”

Along with the officers and the trooper, the two co-owners of Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant, John and Joseph Sullivan, were also indicted on charges.

Seven men were indicted on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with serious bodily injury, assault and battery and conspiracy.

Reached by phone, Cumby’s attorney, Michelle S. Cruz, said Wednesday’s announcement that detailed the indictments spoke for itself.

The bar owners and Diaz along with eight other people are also accused of lying about or trying to cover up the alleged attack.

– Springfield Police Officer Darren Nguyen, 40, of Holland: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

– Springfield Police Officer Shavonne Lewis, 29, of Springfield: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

“Needless to say, this is not a good day for our Springfield Police Department,” Sarno said in a statement.

– Retired Springfield Police Sergeant Louis Bortolussi, 57, of East Longmeadow: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

The indictments are the latest controversy to engulf police in the largest city in Western Massachusetts.

– Springfield Police Officer Derrick Gentry-Mitchell, 29, of Springfield: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

– Springfield Police Officer James DAmour, 42, of Hampden: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

– Springfield Police Officer John Wajdula, 34, of Springfield: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

– Former Springfield Police Officer, current Mass. State Police Trooper Nathanael Perez, 27, of West Springfield: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

– Bar Manager Joseph Sullivan, 42, of Hampden: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report

In 2017, Gulluni said civilians, Herman Paul Cumby, Jozelle Ligon, Jackie Ligon and Michael Cintron were victims of an assault, but their description of their alleged attackers was too inconsistent to hold up in court.

The three civilians were at the bar when an argument began between Jozelle Ligon and a group of off-duty officers at the bar in April 2015. Cumby and Ligon said Jozelle was whistling at a bartender for a drink, but Billingsley believed he was instead whistling at his then-girlfriend, Rodriguez.

Paul Cumby, allegedly beaten by off-duty Springfield police, frustrated after 33 months with no justice

Eventually, Cumby and his group left the bar. Cumby was walking down the street while speaking to his girlfriend on the phone and the Ligons and Cintron waiting in the parking lot of a nearby store for Cumby to return and drive them home, according to interviews with the alleged victims.

The group reunited around 2 a.m. when they saw 10 to 15 men heading toward them, Cumby said in an interview.

The civilians said the off-duty officers were the aggressors when a fight broke out. Billingsleys lawyer contends Cumby was the aggressor.

Cumby suffered a broken leg and loosened teeth in the fight, according to medical records reviewed by MassLive.

Six of the Springfield police officers and one of the bar owners were first charged in Springfield District Court on charges of assault and battery and conspiracy in the case.


Posted in Springfield