DA: No charges against off-duty Springfield cops involved in parking lot brawl

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Off-duty Springfield police officers who were accused of beating up four men in April 2015, will not face criminal charges.  Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said the victims couldn’t identify their attackers.

The incident happened nearly two years ago, in April 2015.  An altercation inside Nathan Bill’s Bar, led to a fight in an adjoining parking lot later that night.  Four men, Herman Cumby, Jozelle Ligon, Jackie Ligon and Michael Cintron say they were attacked by 8-12 people.  Some of which were believed to be off-duty police officers.

22News spoke with Attorney Joe Smith on Thursday, he represents some of the victims.  Back in October he told 22News, he believed the responding the officers tried to cover this up.  There was no reports or arrests made that night.  On Thursday, Attorney Smith told 22News he was not surprised, but his clients are disappointed by this decision.  Smith says the District Attorney’s report mirrors the police side of the story, which he says is littered with disputed facts.  Smith told 22News he will now seek justice through alternative measures, including but not limited to civil action and a formal complaint.

The District Attorney’s report released on Thursday says one of the victims, Herman Cumby, suffered a broken ankle and four damaged front teeth in the fight. Batons and tasers were also alleged to have been used.  The District Attorney will not file criminal charges and closed the case.

“However, it is also undeniable that the victims’ admitted lack of recollection of the events and the assailants, inconsistent versions of the incident, their admitted alcohol consumption, and ultimately and most significantly, their lack of legally sound and positive identifications of those who committed a criminal offense, hamstrings the Commonwealth from initiating a criminal complaint or indictment. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.8, states that a “prosecutor in a criminal case shall refrain from prosecuting where the prosecutor lacks a good faith belief that probable cause to support the charge exists.” While the victims’ credibility and earnestness are not in question, the fact that their accounts and attempted identifications chart a tortuous course is inarguable. With this unavoidable reality, the standard of probable cause is not met.  Moreover, should we look beyond the initial, modest standards of probable cause, the estimable burdens of proof required to convict, which are designed to protect the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, would firmly stand in the way of a successful prosecution in this case. Therefore, with the evidence presently in the possession of this office, there is no probable cause to charge any person(s) with criminal offense(s) from the events on April 8, 2015. The criminal investigation as conducted by the Hampden District Attorney is, therefore, presently closed.” said D.A. Gulluni in the report.

One month after the incident, in May 2015, Cumby filed a formal complaint against the department’s responding officers and reported his belief that the attackers were off-duty police officers.

In July 2015, Captain Trent Duda met with Cumby and his attorney.

In August 2015, Captain Duda filed a completed report and the District Attorney began to review the case for possible criminal charges.

Police confirmed that off-duty officers Daniel Billingsley, Melissa Rodriguez, Anthony Cicero and Christian Cicero were all at Nathan Bill’s bar at 1:15AM.

Cumby when shown pictures of hundreds of police officers could not identify the attackers.  He said he was attacked from behind.  When the search was narrowed down, Cumby identified 7 police officers as being at the bar, but five had alibi’s.

Ligon was able to identify Officer Daniel Billingsley with a 80-90% certainty as being present in the parking lot and the person he had words with inside the bar.  Jackie Ligon told police that Billingsley punched his brother, Jozelle Ligon.  The Internal Investigations Unit report identified Christian Cicero as the man who punched Jozelle Ligon.  These statements by the victims’ contradicted each other.

The 22News I-Team found the names of the 12 police officers listed on a community police hearing board review for this incident last January; Officers A. Cicero, C. Cicero, I. Basovskiy, J. Rivas, N. Perez, D. Nguyen, Michael Rodriguez, Melissa Rodriguez, S. Lewis, J. D’Amour, D. Gentry-Mitchell, J. Diaz.  It is unclear what if any role these officers had in the alleged attack, but now we know Christian Cicero, Anthony Circero and Melissa Rodriguez were named in the District Attorney’s report.

You can read the District Attorney’s report here