Fired Agawam police officers’ attorney demanding release of use-of-force video

Hampden County District Attorney not pursuing criminal charges

Image Courtesy: John D. Connor | Connor, Morneau & Olin, LLP

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The three Agawam Police Officers who were fired for allegedly using excessive force during an arrest in June of 2016, are demanding the town releases the video of the incident.

According to a news release sent from Attorney John Connor, who is representing all three officers in the appeal of their terminations, the Hampden County District Attorney’s office will not pursue any criminal charges relating to the controversial arrest.

Image Courtesy: John D. Connor | Connor, Morneau & Olin, LLP
Image Courtesy: John D. Connor | Connor, Morneau & Olin, LLP

Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer Edward Connor and Officer John Moccio were all fired by Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen after they allegedly forcibly subdued a man who was allegedly drunk and combative at Six Flags New England and at the Agawam Police Station.

The officers have been fighting to get their jobs back ever since.

“Having received word that the District Attorney found no wrongdoing on the part of these Agawam officers, there is no reason to withhold the video from release,” Connor said.

Image Courtesy: John D. Connor | Connor, Morneau & Olin, LLP
Image Courtesy: John D. Connor | Connor, Morneau & Olin, LLP

The attorney said the video shows that the officer’s use of a baton was in self-defense. One officer was allegedly placed in a “life-threatening headlock.”

“As we have said from the beginning, the termination of these officers was a great injustice,” Connor said. “By releasing the video we can set the record straight and firmly establish that these officers acted appropriately.”

Below is the entire statement from Attorney Connor’s office regarding the incident:

Three Agawam Police Officers accused of using excessive force are demanding that the Town of Agawam release a video of the incident which lead their termination. The demand came after the Hampden County District Attorney’s office notified the Town of Agawam that it has declined to pursue any criminal charges relating to the matter.

Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer Edward Connor and Officer John Moccio were fired by Mayor Richard Cohen after having to subdue an intoxicated and assaultive arrestee at Six Flags New England and later at the Agawam Police Station on June 19, 2016.

“Having received word that the District attorney found no wrongdoing on the part of these Agawam officers, there is no reason to withhold the video from release.” Stated John Connor, an attorney representing all three officers in their appeals before the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission.

Attorney Connor noted that while the public may find the video to be graphic, it clearly depicts the arrestee, David Desjardins, assaulting Sgt. Grasso and Officer Connor before any baton strikes were delivered to protect the officers.

The video shows the arrestee delivering a vicious elbow strike to Sgt. Grasso’s face, followed immediately by a punch to Officer Connor’s face. It then depicts Desjardins placing Sgt. Grasso in a life threatening headlock. “Under the Department’s Use of Force Policy, the use of a baton was both authorized and appropriate under these circumstances.” Connor stated.

“I think what the public needs to know is that Sgt. Grasso, who had recently undergone cervical fusion surgery, was placed in a headlock by Mr. Desjardins, and that only after this occurred was he forcibly subdued.”

Connor pointed to three still photos taken from the video as conclusive evidence that Desjardins was extremely assaultive.

Connor also noted that during the recent civil service hearing, the Town’s witnesses repeatedly and inexplicably denied, that Desjardins placed Sgt. Grasso in a headlock and that he struck both Sgt. Grasso and Officer Connor, a position that is clearly contradicted by the video of the incident.

“As we have said from the beginning, the termination of these officers was a great injustice. By releasing the video we can set the record straight and firmly establish that these officers acted appropriately.”

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