One former and one current Springfield Police officer were arraigned on federal indictments, charging them with excessive force on Wednesday.
A federal grand jury indicted Greg Bigda and Steven Vigneault for excessive force stemming from a 2016 arrest of two Hispanic teenagers.
Federal charges came down Wednesday, more than two years after Bigda and Vigneault were alleged to have injured two teenagers during an arrest.
Both Vigneault and Bigda were charged with unreasonable force involving a dangerous weapon, resulting in bodily injury. Vigneault resigned from the force in 2016. Bigda, still a Springfield officer, was suspended without pay after the Wednesday’s charges.
Bigda is alleged to have kicked a teen in the head, spit in their face and said, “welcome to the white man’s world,” during the arrest. He is also accused of making threats against both teens during an interrogation without parents present.
One Springfield resident who did not want to be seen said the cops should have been charged sooner.
“That’s just completely racist,” said Luis of Springfield. “I feel as though it should have been done years ago when it first happened. For a police officer to use excessive force on someone is completely out of hand.”
Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos called on the city’s police commissioner to fire Bigda.
Greater Springfield NAACP president Talbert Swan said he hopes the indictments will lead to a path of accountability for officers.
Swan sent 22News a statement that reads in part:
“Far too often, police who abuse their authority and terrorize Black and brown people, are protected by the law enforcement community and never held to account.”
Vigneault faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Bigda, however, is facing several other charges. He is alleged to have falsified police reports, and not reading the teens their Miranda Rights. He could face up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Vigneault’s attorney said his client is innocent until proven guilty.
“I just spoke with him, he was very resolute, very upbeat, and I can’t say it better – I did nothing wrong,” said Dan Kelly, interim attorney for Vigneault. “So that’s his position and he looks forward to his day in court.”
The arrest stemmed from the teens allegedly stealing an unmarked police cruiser, and leading officers on a chase into Palmer, where their questioning was captured on surveillance video.
Vigneault’s attorney said it could be a year before this case actually goes to trial.
The Springfield Police Department will have no further comment during the criminal proceedings.