GRANBY, Mass. (WWLP) – Granby Police Officer Shawn Rooney lost sight in one of his eyes, and Granby Police Chief Alan Wishart told 22News he won’t be able to return to duty.
22News obtained a more than 200-page state police incident report. It contains witness testimony of a training scenario involving Officer Rooney and his instructor, West Springfield Police Officer Robert Wise.
The incident happened on November 30, 2015, at the Western Massachusetts Regional Police Academy, on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College.
Officer Rooney was participating in a defensive tactics exercise where his assignment was to subdue an unruly bar patron. The report details that Officer Wise, acting as the drunk patron, was wearing a fully padded suit. Officer Rooney was wearing a helmet, with no eye protection.
Officer Rooney told Officer Wise to put down the beer and leave. After a brief verbal confrontation and stand up struggle, Officer Rooney took Officer Wise to the floor, got on top of him and reached for his fake pepper spray. That’s when Wise grabbed Rooney’s real baton.
From there, witness reports conflict. Some say Wise jabbed the baton toward Rooney’s head. Others say Rooney’s head moved toward the baton. Rooney’s Lawyer, Judd Peskin says testimony shows it was intentional.
(What do you think the motivation would be for an officer to do this to him?) Peskin replied, “Embarrassment.” (Of what?) “Embarrassment that he wearing a full completed padded suit was bested by a student wearing nothing but a helmet.”
West Springfield Police Captain Michael Banas defended the character of Officer Wise; “9 year member of the police department and in those 9 years he has never had any disciplinary problems. He has never been a problem whatsoever and I would vouch for his character all day long.”
“Mr. Rooney is never going to be able to work as a policeman again,” said Peskin. “His lifetime earnings will likely be compromised. He has lost the use of his eye. He is disfigured. He is going to have to wear a prosthetic eye either glass or plastic. Rooney is looking for money.”
Attorney Peskin told 22News a result of the incident, one police academy instructor was fired, 4 others have been suspended.