SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two former Springfield police officers were sentenced to suspended jail time and probation last Wednesday in connection with a fight outside of Nathan Bill’s bar in 2015.
Daniel Billingsley and Christian Cicero were each convicted of three counts of misdemeanor assault and battery but were acquitted of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault causing serious bodily injury.
Each were both sentenced to two years of probation, 150 hours of community service, ordered to stay away from Nathan Bill’s bar, and no contact with the victims. Billingsley received a suspended jail time of one year and Cicero received a suspended jail time of nine months. This means if they violate those conditions, they will be sent to the House of Corrections.
President of the Greater Springfield NAACP Bishop Talbert Swan sent the following statement Friday on the sentencing:
“Yet again, the American justice system has failed to produce justice and has demonstrated that it sees color vividly and in high definition.
As the news that neither Daniel Billingsley nor Christian Cicero, two former Springfield police officers would not be sentenced to jail time for their brutal beating of four Black men flooded the airways I sat, familiarly reflective and saddened by the trauma, physical assault, and brutality experience by Black men at the hands of law enforcement and angry at a justice system that refused to incarcerate white men found guilty of assaulting citizens they were sworn to protect. Sadly, this experience is not an isolated one. Largely, the lives of Black men have never held great value in this country, this commonwealth, or this city. From birth to untimely death, many of them have been treated as mules for labor, obvious scapegoats, easy targets and disposable–at no consequence to the disposer.
This is why the beating of Black men at the hands of white police on a daily basis across the nation can be forgotten with the wave of a hand. Calls for justice regarding their assault are often dismissed as overly sensitive people yet again playing the proverbial race card. Yet, had the racial identities been reversed, Black cops beating white residents, we would have seen an entirely different result because that scenario would have disturbed the image of the ideal white America and drew sympathy over the mistreatment of innocent white men, who are never viewed in the same light as their innocent Black male counterparts. Sadly, brutality against “threatening” Black males at the hands of rogue cops like Billingsley and Cicero are simply added to a tally.
The failure to exact a punishment that fits their crime only highlights the perceived value of Black life and reinforces the stereotypes, which justify racial animus against Black males, their disenfranchisement, abuse, brutalization and mass incarceration. It further sends a clear message that brutalizing a Black male can be justified simply on the basis of him being a Black male.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X., Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights and human rights pioneers are rolling over in their graves bemoaning the fact that while America attempts to turn back the hands of time on gains made through their sacrifice, rapscallion police officers are emboldened to act on their racial hatred with the same assurance the Ku Klux Klan of old had, that the law will stand behind their despicable actions.”President of the Greater Springfield NAACP Bishop Talbert Swan
Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst told 22News he’s not surprised by this sentencing, but supports the judge’s decision, adding that the city needs to hold individuals accountable from the “top-down”.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Councilor Hurst said. “The fact that this particular incident cost the taxpayers of Springfield $850,000, close to a million dollars. The fact that we just allotted $5 million to settle police misconduct cases is problematic. We all should be appalled. That’s money that could go towards reducing the taxes in the city of Springfield, that’s money that could go toward road improvements.”
22News contacted the Springfield Mayor’s office about the sentencing. Mayor Domenic Sarno in a statement said, “The court has spoken. Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I will continue to focus on the many initiatives, reforms, and programs that we have implemented in order to continue moving our police department forward.”