AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Three Agawam police officers have filed an appeal of their termination to the State Civil Service Commission.
Their attorney, John Conner said the officers are asking for reinstatement with full back pay. The three officers, Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer John Moccio and Officer Edward Connor, were fired last week after what the chief described as a “use of force incident.”
The three officers arrested David Desjardins, for allegedly being drunk and unruly. Desjardins claims that when they got back to the police department, the officers assaulted him.
On October 5th, Attorney Connor spoke to 22News after a civil service hearing. Connor says the video shows a man who had been arrested at Six Flags for assaulting officers and continued to do so in a cell at the Agawam police station.
The 22News I-Team obtained court documents from this case, which includes a picture of Desjardins with blood dripping from his head following the alleged assault. Connor said that wound was self-inflicted.
“At the time, he was shackled and in handcuffs, he was belligerent, he was highly intoxicated and starting banging his head on the door,” said Conner.
Conner said the appeal will take five to six months before a decision is made. A hearing on the matter should occur in the next 90 days.
Below is the news release from Attorney Connor regarding the appeal:
Three Agawam Police Officers have filed an appeal of their termination from employment with the Town of Agawam police department. The Appeal asserts that the officers’ termination was without just cause in violation of civil service law and asks that they be reinstated with full back pay.
“We are confident that a fair review of the facts in this case including the video of this incident will result of reinstatement for all three officers by the Civil Service Commission” Stated Attorney John Connor who is representing all three officers in their appeal. “All three officers acted in accordance with the rules and regulations of the department as well as their training in bringing this violent individual under control”
The three officers, Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer John Moccio and Officer Edward B. Connor were terminated by Mayor Cohen at the recommendation of Chief Eric Gillis on October 19, 2016. The appeal process will take approximately five (5) to six (6) months before a decision is rendered although a full evidentiary hearing on the matter should occur within 90 days.
Attorney Connor also emphasized that none of these officers have ever been accused of excessive force in the past and that the arrestee was very intoxicated and extremely violent. “We will be presenting the fact that it took 2 officers and 2 civilians to bring this individual under control after a long and violent struggle at six flags New England. This violent behavior reignited at the station during the booking process requiring officers to use reasonable force to bring the arrestee under control.” Connor also emphasized that “the only individual who was injured in this incident was an officer. “
Sgt Grasso is a 20 year veteran of the police department; Officer Moccio is a 19 year veteran while Officer Connor is a 31 year veteran.