Controversy over firing of 3 Agawam officers continues

Hearing is not open to public

AGAWAM, Mass.(WWLP) – The fight for the three Agawam police officers trying to get their jobs back continued Monday.

Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer Edward Connor and Officer John Moccio were fired following an alleged excessive use of force incident that happened in June.

The three officers filed an appeal of their termination to the State Civil Service Commission in October. Monday, they attended a hearing Monday at the Springfield State Office Building. Supporters gathered out front as the hearing took place.

“From what I understand and the information that I’ve gotten, I feel that the officers didn’t get the support of the town their chief and the mayor. From what I understand, they were unjustly fired and that’s why there here now to get their jobs back,” said Brian Hope, a supporter of the fired officers.

I-Team: Fired Agawam cops dispute excessive force allegation

The officers’ attorney, John Connor, said the officers arrested a man at Six Flags who became combative at the park and police station. He says there is no question the three men used proper force.

These three officers have gained support from some people in Agawam; signs in support have been popping up around town. Attorney Connor said the officers are asking for reinstatement with full back pay.

One Agawam resident told 22news that he doesn’t believe enough information has been released about the incident. “I don’t know enough about it, but if you fire policemen, boy, you better have a good reason, we need everyone we got,” said Anthony Calabro.

22News contacted Mayor Richard Cohen, but he told us that he cannot comment on the matter at this time. The hearings were not open to the public.

A ruling is expected by this May. Connor said the three men are asking for reinstatement with full back pay.

Below is the news release from Attorney Connor regarding the officers’ 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.  

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