“Welcome to the white man’s world”, among claims in Springfield Detective’s lawsuit

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A former Springfield police detective has filed a civil lawsuit against the Police Commissioner and others in Hampden Superior Court.

In the lawsuit, obtained by 22News, Steven Vigneault said he was forced to resign under false pretenses.

Vigneault also claims he watched Officer Gregory Bigda and others drink alcohol on the job at the police station, claiming Bigda was often drunk on duty while carrying his gun. Then was reprimanded when he brought those allegations to supervisors.

On the February night, where Bigda was caught on camera at the Palmer Holding Cell threatening teenagers, Vigneault claims Bigda was drinking rum throughout the night. The threats caught on camera included Bigda saying he would “plant a kilo of coke” on a juvenile and “put him away for 15 years” and crush their skulls with a “bloody boot.”  Several drug cases have been dismissed due to that video.

Vigneault claims Bigda, during the pursuit of these teenagers who stole Vigneault’s undercover police car, spit on a teen and said “welcome to the white man’s world.”

A Wilbraham police officer’s report stated that one of the juveniles was kicked in the face during the pursuit. The report did not state which officer attacked the juvenile.

After an internal affairs investigation, in August of 2016, Vigneault claims that Commissioner John Barbieri told Union President Joseph Gentile to tell Vigneault to resign or be fired. Gentile had told Vigneault that the Wilbraham police officer who filed the report was going to testify at a hearing that Vigneault kicked the juvenile in the face. Fearing a loss of his pension, Vigneault resigned.

The lawsuit claims that at no time was the Wilbraham police officer able to identify who kicked the juvenile.

Named in the lawsuit were Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri, Police Department Union President Joseph Gentile, Attorney Kevin Coyle, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 364 and Springfield police officer Gregg Bigda.

We have asked the city solicitor to comment but have not heard back yet.

Plaintiff:

Steven Vigneault

VS.
Defendants:

City of Springfield, John Barbieri, Gregory Bigda, Joseph Gentile, Kevin Coyle and International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 364

Complaint for Equitable Relief & Demand for Jury Trial

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