A police officer has been suspended after pleading not guilty in Springfield District Court on Thursday, to nine criminal charges including assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, and conspiracy.
According to State Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office, 54-year old Jose Diaz was released without bail after pleading not guilty at his arraignment.
Diaz is facing four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, three counts of assault and battery and one conspiracy charge.
These charges come from an off-duty incident that took place nearly four years ago. Four men allege they were assaulted by off-duty Springfield police officers, including Diaz.
The Hampden County District Attorney’s office declined to file any criminal charges in February of last year, saying the charges would depend on a positive identification of the assailant or assailants, and “no such identification has been made”. But the State Attorney General’s office brought the charges against Diaz and said this is an active and ongoing investigation.
Springfield Police Spokesman Ryan Walsh told 22News Diaz was been suspended without pay for five days, and will be placed on administrative leave. In a statement, Walsh said, “this is very troubling, as our police officers are sworn to enforce our laws, not break them.”
Full statement below:
In a statement to 22News, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said:
Again this is very troubling, as our police officers are sworn to enforce our laws, not break them. Any officer that breaches the public trust should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – ‘let the chips fall where they may’. From the beginning of this incident Commissioner Barbieri, City Solicitor Ed Pikula, Labor Relations Director Bill Mahoney and I have worked with all outside authorities to pursue this case, even bringing in independent counsel and retired Judge Bertha Josephson to hear this case before our citizens Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB). This reflects unfairly on the vast majority of our brave and dedicated police officers, who put their lives on the line protecting our citizens, day in and day out. Whether on-duty or off-duty our police officers must wear their badge not only with courage but just as important with honor, integrity, and professionalism. The reform efforts initiated by Commissioner Barbieri are ongoing and will continue in order to maintain the public’s faith and trust.
“I feel like Springfield cops have been pretty good as far as not getting in trouble, but people are people,” said Edward Gearing, a Springfield resident. “There’s always one or two bad apples. Always”
A conviction on even just one of the most serious of these charges in district court could result in a maximum of two and a half years in jail.
The State Attorney General’s office and the FBI are still investigating the incident.
Diaz is due back in court February 8.