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I-Team: Fired Agawam cops dispute excessive force allegation


AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen fired veteran police officers Edward Connor, John Moccio and Sergeant Anthony Grasso for a “use of force” incident in June.

The 22News I-Team obtained court documents that show pictures of David Desjardins Jr., with blood coming out of the side of his head.

Desjardins was arrested June 19th at Six Flags. Police said Desjardins was drunk and unruly at Six Flags, then when asked to leave, started punching and kicking an officer.  He had one officer in a headlock before two civilians had to jump in. Police used pepper spray, but it had no effect on Desjardins.  They eventually were able to get him in handcuffs and into the back of the police car.

Back at the station during the booking process, police said Desjardins become violent again. According to court documents, “while placing David in the cell he became combative and grabbed Sgt. Grasso had placed him in a head lock attempting to punch him in the face.”  After Desjardins refused to release the officer he received several baton strikes to his thigh and shin area.  He was eventually handcuffed and shackled.  Police said Desjardins was able to get his handcuffs to the front and began punching and banging his head.

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

Desjardins was charged with three counts of assault and battery to a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He has a pre-trial hearing on December 7th.

There is video of the incident that happened back at the Agawam Police Department.  Chief Eric Gillis reviewed this one month later, which led to the officers being placed on paid administrative leave until their firing on Wednesday.

When the I-Team found out about this incident in September, we called Chief Gillis.  Hours later he sent a news release to all media outlets.  That same day we requested the video from the District Attorney’s office.  The District Attorney denied our request.

Defense Attorney Maria Barroso who is representing Desjardins, also hasn’t seen the video yet.  She told the I-Team it was convenient that pictures of her client from his knees to his neck have not been provided to her.  She had pictures taken of Desjardins the day after the arrest and his was injured.

John Connor who is representing the fired officers told the I-Team Team the wound on Desjardins’ head was self-inflicted.

“At the time he was shackled and in handcuffs, he was belligerent he was highly intoxicated and starting banging his head on the door, this is all on the video tape,” said Connor.

(Once the guy who was arrested stopped resisting, was he ever hit?)

“Never, I think there might be a perception out that this person was in cuffs or was somehow restrained and that the officers continuing to beat on him, that is not true,” said Connor.

Attorney Connor said it was an appropriate use of force and how these officers are trained.

Attorney Connor, who is not related to the fired officer with the same last name, said the officers will be appealing the decision to fire them.

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