SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A verdict was announced in the trial of two Springfield police officers accused of being part of a cover-up associated with a 2015 fight near Nathan Bill’s Bar in Springfield.
Shavonne Lewis and Derrick Gentry-Mitchell were the final two officers charged in the “Nathan Bill’s case”. The two officers responded to a fight between a group of off-duty police officers and four Black men near the East Forest Park bar back in April of 2015.
They both were found not guilty on charges of perjury, filing a false police report, and misleading investigators. Lewis and Gentry-Mitchell were tried in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield. The trial is a “jury-waived trial” also known as a “bench trial,” where a judge, rather than a jury decides a defendant’s guilt or innocence.
Lewis’s attorney spoke with 22News after the verdict was announced, “This has been a nightmare for my client Shavone Lewis, and I’m sure for Mr. Gentry Mitchell. We are very happy that it is now over and they can go back to work for the police department,” said Anthony C. Bonavita, Attorney.
Seemingly the main motivation for Judge Edward McDonough Junior to dismiss these charges was the conduct of the U.S. Department of Justice during the investigation and trial. He said in subsidiary findings before issuing the verdict that the Commonwealth’s evidence was manifestly unreliable, because of limits imposed by the DOJ on the investigation by the FBI, and their attempt last Friday to pull an FBI special agent off the stand in the middle of a cross-examination.
Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood stated, “I am happy for these officers and their families and hope this finally puts an end to this saga for the department. This bar fight eight and a half years ago has put a great deal of stress and strain on these officers, their families and the department. I applaud Judge McDonough for taking the time to understand the complexity of this case. I’ll welcome these officers back, we need them. I expect them to do an exemplary job for the department and the city for the rest of their careers. From what I knew about the case and these officers being so new on the job I doubted the conspiracy aspect. Hopefully now we can move on.”
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1953 by providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on X @WWLP22News, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.