Gallery: Springfield police officers indicted in alleged off-duty beating of civilians after barroom argument
The Springfield City Council is questioning Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gullunis handling of the Nathan Bills assault investigation and has accused the district attorneys office of neglecting to complete a thorough investigation.
Justin Hurst, council president, issued a scathing statement one day after the state attorney generals office secured indictments against one dozen Springfield police officers, a trooper who formerly worked for Springfield police and a retired Springfield police sergeant in connection with the alleged attack on a group of men outside Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant in April 2015.
In response to Hursts statement, a spokesman for Gulluni said the district attorneys office referred the Nathan Bills case to both the U.S. Attorneys Office and the Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office in October of 2016 for a “review of the larger circumstances of the incident.”
Two men affiliated with Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant — co-owner John Sullivan and manager Joseph Sullivan — are also facing indictments for misleading investigators.
Seven men have been accused of participating in the alleged attack and are facing charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with serious bodily injury, assault and battery and conspiracy.
Indictments were handed up by a Worcester-based statewide grand jury Wednesday. The state attorney generals office brought the case to a grand jury beginning in February 2018.
One year earlier, in February 2017, Gullunis office declined to press charges. The district attorney said the men allegedly attacked by a group of off-duty Springfield cops were victims of an assault, but the mens descriptions of the alleged attackers were inconsistent and would not hold up in court.
District Attorney Anthony Gullunis failure to press charges against any of the 14 police officers further illustrates a dereliction of duties and leads citizens to question his role in this most recent scandal, Hurst said. The District Attorney neglected to do a thorough investigation at the outset, and unfortunately, this is not the first time. His failure to investigate and prosecute brazen police officers only reinforces to the entire police department that they are above the law and will not be held accountable for their actions.
In fact, the State Attorney General issued indictments against the 14 officers just as fast as the District Attorney dismissed the victims accusations, he wrote.
Once again Councilman Hurst has demonstrated his lack of understanding of the events and actions of this office. The District Attorney found the victims to be credible and to have suffered serious injury, James Leydon, spokesman for Gullunis office said. The facts known at the time as relayed by the victims themselves did not offer clarity as to who perpetrated the attacks and therefore charges could not be brought. This office then referred the case to both the U.S. Attorneys Office and the Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office in October of 2016 for a review of the larger circumstances of the incident. These agencies have the scope and available resources to investigate a matter of this kind and, in fact, subsequently discovered evidence with which the Hampden District Attorneys Office was not furnished and now forms the basis of the indictments issued yesterday.”
Springfield Police fallout: 12 officers now suspended without pay; Mass. State Police trooper indicted in case has been relieved of duty
Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood released a statement after the indictments were filed Wednesday by a Worcester-based statewide grand jury. She said all 12 officers are suspended without pay.
Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood issued a statement after the indictments were announced. All of the Springfield officers were suspended without pay. Nathanael Perez, the former Springfield officer who joined the Massachusetts State Police in April 2016, was relieved of duty Wednesday pending a duty status hearing Friday.
Perez left in October 2015. He then joined the Massachusetts State Police after graduating from the academy in April 2016. After working in Troop B, Perez then began working for the unit assigned to the Hampden DAs office in December 2017, according to state police.
Clapprood said her department will move forward with disciplinary action on each officer as soon as the grand jury evidence is available for the department to review. She also will notify the citys Retirement Board.
Hurst contends the Springfield Police Department, which has been plagued by a series of issues, can only be fixed by bringing in a commissioner from outside the department.
The Mayor cannot continue to appoint Commissioners from within the department who have been immersed in a culture of impunity and cronyism and expect a different result, he said. There must be a national search for a police chief to lead the department, and in absence of that, systemic change to our police department will continue to be an uphill battle.
The alleged victims in the attack, Herman Paul Cumby, Jozelle Ligon, Jackie Ligon and Michael Cintron claim the officers set upon them after an incident inside Nathan Bills in April 2015.
An argument began between Jozelle Ligon and a group of off-duty officers at the bar. One off-duty officer thought a man was whistling at his then-girlfriend, who was also a Springfield officer. The alleged victims say the man was whistling at the bartender for a drink.
Indicted Nathan Bills Bar and Restaurant owner and manager deny assault and perjury allegations, say business will continue as normal
John Sullivan and Joseph Sullivan were indicted in connection with at 2015 fight that has led to indictments of 14 Springfield police officers.
The men left the bar and reunited around 2 p.m. Cumby, in an interview with MassLive, said a group of 10 to 15 men headed toward them and a fight broke out with the off-duty officers.
One officer claims, through his attorney, that Cumby was the aggressor. Six of the people indicted in the case were first charged in Springfield District Court on assault and battery and conspiracy charges.
Seven of those indicted will have their cases heard in Hampden Superior Court. The others will appear in Worcester Superior Court, where they testified before the statewide grand jury.
Indictments show several of the officers are accused of misleading investigators on various dates throughout 2015. The perjury charges involve testimony in 2018.
The 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 are:
The bar owners and Diaz along with eight other people are also accused of lying about or trying to cover up the alleged attack. They are:
– 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