3 Agawam police officers fired due to use-of-force incident


AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Three Agawam police officers have been fired, following an investigation into an incident involving use of force at the police station.

According to a news release from Police Chief Eric Gillis sent to 22News, Mayor Richard Cohen has terminated the employment of Sergeant Anthony Grasso, Officer Edward Connor, and Officer John Moccio.

The 22News I-Team spoke with John Connor, the attorney for the fired officers.  He told 22News they will appeal this decision.  “My heart goes out to officers, it’s great injustice and poor leadership on behalf of the Chief and Mayor to terminate three officers who followed the policies and procedures of departments,” said Connor.

He continues, “When we do get their jobs back, I hope the Chief and Mayor will be held accountable.”

Jeremy Springfield, originally from Agawam, but now lives in Chicopee, told 22News, “We all need to be held accountable for our actions. So, if the proper investigations were done, and the wrong-doings were found, and this is the consequences for their actions, unfortunately it’s a no win situation for all those involved.”

Attorney Connor wanted to make it clear that the person arrested was not injured.  Connor says that Desjardins was extremely combative when he was at Six Flags and the officers applied necessary force to bring him under control.  One officer was hurt in the incident.

Gillis says that he cannot say much about the case, because the three plan to appeal their firings, and because there is an ongoing criminal investigation being carried out by District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. He did, however, say that the incident took place on June 19, 2016 at the police station and was captured on in-house cameras.

The Tony Spryzenski, owner of The Barbershop, located two doors down from the police station, said some Agawam Police officers, including Sergeant Grasso, like to come to his barbershop. He told 22News, the 3 officers being fired was a hot topic.

“The police here in town, they do the best of their abilities, without stepping over the line. I never heard of an incident where they’ve stepped over the line here in the town.”

The 22News I-Team discovered the incident involved David Desjardins Jr. of Baltic, Connecticut.  Desjardins Jr. was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and three counts of assault and battery on a police officer from the June 19th incident.

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.  “So at points he had them in a headlock, he threw punches, there’s no question this person was assaultive, and under the rules and policies of the department the officers are authorized to use reasonable force in order to gain control of the arrestee, and that’s what they did, and they reacted actually textbook in terms of how they reacted to the situation.”

Grasso, Connor, and Moccio had been on paid administrative leave prior to Cohen’s decision.   22News requested a copy of this video back through the District Attorney’s office, but our request was denied due to a pending criminal case.

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