SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield Police officer is on restricted duty and facing assault charges after bodycam footage shows he stunned a pregnant woman multiple times while responding to an incident at a downtown hotel in September 2020.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced the following charges against Leon Davis, 35, of Springfield; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against a pregnant woman.
Officer Davis has been summoned to appear in Springfield District Court to be arraigned on those charges on April 5, 2021.
The evidence shows that this officer’s actions are clearly outside of his training, as they were punitive and grossly excessive, and therefore criminal. This type of conduct has no place in policing and police officers who engage in abusive and excessive uses of force must be identified and immediately re-trained or fired. As we have seen here and across the country, this kind of misconduct undermines the trust that the community must have in its police departments and serves to sully and frustrate the work and reputation of the many good police officers who make up the vast majority of those departments.Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni
The DA’s Office said on September 29, 2020, members of the Springfield Police Department were called to Tower Square for a call of a disorderly person. When the officers arrived, they tried to gain access to a room occupied by a man and woman who had been asked to vacate.
Officers had received reports that the woman had made threats toward employees of the hotel. The woman continued to make verbal threats and offensive comments toward the officers through the room door, according to the DA’s office.
The bodycam video, which was released by DA Anthony Gulluni’s Office Wednesday, shows a hotel employee breaching the hotel door with officers standing nearby ready to go inside.
While trying to enter the room, the video shows Davis struggling as a hand blocked the door. Officer Davis then applies a drive stun from the taser to the exposed hand on the door and the hand retracts allowing the officers to make entry.
Davis was the first officer to enter the room where the woman was crouched in a corner with her hands raised in a defensive manner in front of her saying, “please don’t.” Davis is heard in the video saying, “You wanna play those games, huh?” before stunning the woman again, this time in her right shoulder.
The woman can he beard pleading before saying she is pregnant several times. Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said she was “surprised to see the body-worn camera footage…”
Our Quality Assurance Unit while auditing Body-Worn camera footage flagged a September 29thincident involving an officer drive-stunning a female who was being trespassed from a hotel. We immediately began an IIU investigation and on December 4th notified the District Attorney’s office, who was also in possession of the body-worn camera footage since the day after the arrest, of the potential of criminal charges.Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood
The woman is seen pulling her arms and hands tight to her chest flinching from the second tase. Davis then deployed his department-issued drive stun a third time to the woman’s upper left arm, according to the video.
The woman is heard apologizing while stating she is pregnant several times as the officers begin to handcuff her behind the hotel room door. Davis stuns the woman for the fourth time in her right shoulder, according to the video.
When the District Attorney’s office decided to move forward with criminal charges on December 22, our IIU investigation was put on hold pending the outcome of this case. The officer has been on restricted duty. I am surprised to see the Body-Worn Camera footage released as this is very much still under investigation.Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood
A review of the hotel incident led to the application for a criminal complaint on January 5, 2021, the DA’s Office said. Davis joined the Springfield Police Department in 2018.
This is part of the bodycam video, you may find its content disturbing.
After learning of the incident, Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst said police reform cannot come soon enough “although I’m not sure residents can count on it coming at all under the current leadership.” His full statement is below:
This incident should not be a surprise to anyone. While it might be a shock to the conscious for some, to many of us it is merely a culmination of poor leadership that is too stubborn to realize that they cannot change this police department from the inside out. The DOJ report cited similar incidents that were equally as horrifying as this one and leadership continues to try to convince the public that the report was overblown.
I appreciate District Attorney Gulluni for not wanting to be complicit in what appears to be a blatant coverup, which is likely why it has taken so long for the public to learn about the incident. There is a lack of public trust between the Commissioner, the Police Department and the community for a reason, and this is another example to add to the long list. It is extremely disappointing that we have to rely on our District Attorney to do the job of our Police Commissioner in keeping the public informed of police misconduct that continues to shine a black eye on the entire city.
Police reform cannot come soon enough although I’m not sure residents can count on it coming at all under the current leadership.City Councilor, Justin Hurst
Full Video: You may find its content disturbing.