A group of Springfield police officers allegedly assaulted four people after they left a bar in the city, and then multiple other officers allegedly tried to help them cover it up.
Now, 14 officers total are facing related charges, according to Attorney General Maura Healey and FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta in a news release.
A statewide grand jury in Worcester indicted not just the officers — 13 current and one former — but also the owner and the manager of Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant related to the incident that allegedly occurred back on April 8, 2015, officials said.
14 MA Police Officers Accused Of Beating, Coverup Near Bar
Six officers face four counts each of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — shod foot, one count each of assault and battery — serious bodily injury, three counts each of assault and battery, and one count each of conspiracy. Officers facing these charges include Daniel Billingsley, 30, of Springfield, Igor Basovskiy, 34, of Springfield, Christian Cicero, 28, of Longmeadow, Jose Diaz, 54, of Springfield, Anthony Cicero, 29, of Hampden, and Jameson Williams, 33, of East Longmeadow. Also facing these charges is John Sullivan, 34, of Springfield, who owns the bar and restaurant, according to the release.
In addition, the release said John Sullivan and Diaz also face a charge of misleading a federal agent or investigator.
After John Sullivans arraignment in Springfield District Court last month, Olanoff released a statement denying his clients involvement in the fight and questioning why the AGs office is bringing charges after nearly four years and multiple other investigations of the altercation.
Seven additional officers face charges of perjury, misleading a police officer or investigator, and filing a false police report. The defendants include officers Darren Nguyen, 40, of Holland, Shavonne Lewis, 29, of Springfield, Derrick Gentry-Mitchell, 29, of Springfield, John Wajdula, 34, of Springfield, Louis Bortolussi, 57, of East Longmeadow, James DAmour, 42, of Hampden, and former officer Nathaniel Perez, 27, of West Springfield, officials said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says he is disappointed and angry about indictment of 14 Springfield police officers
Joseph Sullivan, 42, of Hampden, who manages the bar, is charged with perjury and misleading a police officer, federal agent, or grand jury, the release said.
All 16 defendants are planned to be arraigned in either Worcester and/or Hampden superior courts at later dates.
8 Massachusetts Cops Charged in Alleged Bar Fight Cover-Up
The day of the incident, officials said six of the officers — Billingsley, Basovskiy, Christian Cicero, Diaz, Anthony Cicero, and Williams, all off-duty — and bar owner John Sullivan allegedly physically assaulted the four victims after they left the bar following a confrontation.
14 police officers charged in connection with violent beating near Springfield bar
The victims were allegedly beaten and kicked, and sustained significant injuries as a result of the assault, some permanent, the release said.
The FBI and Healeys office got statements from the victims and witnesses; they also obtained video evidence and phone records that helped identify the accused.
14 Springfield officers indicted in connection with 2015 alleged assault, cover-up
The AGs Office also alleges that after the assault, nine Springfield Police officers as well as John Sullivan and Joseph Sullivan (no relation) were a part of a long-standing and ongoing cover up of the assault, the release said, noting that during the investigation, John Sullivan allegedly misled the FBI while Diaz gave misleading statements to the Springfield departments internal investigations unit. Nguyen, Lewis, Bortolussi, Gentry-Mitchell, DAmour, Wajdula, Perez, Rodriguez, and Joseph Sullivan all allegedly committed perjury by lying when testifying in front of the Statewide Grand Jury, and many of these defendants also misled authorities and/or filed false police reports during the investigation.
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.’’
The Springfield departments acting commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, said in a statement that all of the officers involved are suspended without pay while they await their court dates, and that she anticipates disciplinary action against each of the officers.
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.
Statement from Acting Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood on todays indictments. pic.twitter.com/XY7M0ZC1FV
Gallery: Springfield police officers indicted in alleged off-duty beating of civilians after barroom argument
Needless to say, this is not a good day for our Springfield Police Department. I am very disappointed and angry – these are very serious charges. Police officers are held to a higher standard and as I have stated before, must wear their badges, not only bravely, but with honor, integrity and professionalism,” Sarno said. “Acting Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and I will continue our efforts 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.
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.
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.
Six officers were indicted on counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy for allegedly participating in the fight. Others were indicted on counts of perjury or lying to investigators, as part of alleged efforts to cover up the attack.
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.
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.
Asked whether the indictment suggests that the departments problems run deeper than individual officers, Sarno defended the integrity of the police force.
Fourteen Springfield police officers indicted in alleged off-duty beating of civilians after 2015 barroom argument
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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.
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.
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.
According to the Associated Press, Attorney General Maura Healeys office and the FBIs Boston office announced the new charges on Wednesday. Six of the officers involved had previously been charged with assault and battery.
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.
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.
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
– Retired Springfield Police Sergeant Louis Bortolussi, 57, of East Longmeadow: Perjury, misleading a police officer/investigator, filing a false police report
– 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.