2 Agawam officers involved in use of force incident reinstated

The FBI has launched a probe of the incident involving the three officers

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

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Three Agawam police officers were still fighting to get their jobs back after being fired following a use-of-force incident. Sgt. Anthony Grasso, Officer Edward Connor and Officer John Moccio, all testified on the third day of hearings at the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, the Town of Agawam announced that Officer Connor and Sgt. Grasso will be allowed to return to the police department, with full back pay, according to Attorney John Connor, who is representing the officers.

Attorney Connor said the town also demoted Sgt. Grasso from a Supervisor to a police officer, which he will now appeal.

“Today was a step in the right direction for the pursuit of justice for all three officers. While Officer Connor has been completely vindicated, we remain confident that after all the evidence is considered by the Civil Service Commission, it will find that both Sgt. Grasso and Officer Moccio acted appropriately under the circumstances,” said Attorney Connor.

He said a fourth day of hearings has been scheduled for February 14th.

The three officers were fired following an incident that happened last June, after they arrested David Desjardins for allegedly being drunk and unruly at Six Flags. Desjardins claims that when they got back to the police department, the officers assaulted him. Grasso, Connor, and Moccio later filed an appeal of their termination to the State Civil Service Commission in October.

The video of the use-of-force incident that led to their firing was released earlier this month. Attorney Connor claims their actions shown in the video were justified. He said the officers were following the police department’s policies and procedures.

22News found out that police officers can use defensive tactics, including baton strikes, hits from a stun gun or deploying of police dogs, if the suspect is abusive towards the officers.

Agawam Police Chief Eric Gillis, however, told 22News he stands by the decision to fire those officers, saying the use of force has to be proportional to the threat. The chief said the incident shown in the video was not the only reason they were fired. He said it had to do with statements they made during the investigation.

The FBI has launched a probe of the incident involving the three officers. Attorney Connor said, “We welcome review by any public agency. This is now the third Law enforcement agency to review the incident and we are confident that the FBI will come to the same conclusion as the District Attorney which is that these officers acted appropriately.”

Connor said all three officers would cooperate fully with any inquiry.

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