Springfield, MA — A federal indictment was unsealed this week during the initial court appearance of two Springfield cops accused of roughing up two Latino teenagers while telling them “welcome to the white man’s world.”
Springfield police Officer Gregg Bigda and former detective Steven Vignault claim they did nothing wrong and pleaded not guilty during their first court appearance on Wednesday. After their not guilty plea, both men were released without bail.
After the incident in February 2016, Bigda was suspended for 60 days while Vignault was allowed to retire.
According to the report, Bigda kicked one of the teens in the head while arresting him for the alleged theft of an unmarked police SUV. While kicking the teen, Bigda then spat on him and made the “welcome to the white man’s world” comment.
According to MassLive, on the night of Feb. 26, 2016, Vigneault left his unmarked police car running outside a pizza restaurant while he went inside to get food. When he came back out, a group of teens had taken his car on a joy ride before they were eventually stopped and apprehended.
Police dogs then allegedly bit the boys and officers allegedly kicked them in the face while they were handcuffed, according to WaPo. Bigda then went on to interrogate the teens without their parents present and without reading them their Miranda rights, according to the indictment.
Both of the boys were injured during the arrest but their abuse did not stop there. As the video below shows, the teens were then subjected to an interrogation “so abusive that it shocks the conscience,” according to the prosecution.
As PIX 11 points out, at one point, Bigda pointed to blood on his boot. He warned the teen that if he lied, his blood would be on the boot, as well, the indictment said.
Bigda faces additional charges of filing a false police report and in connection with obscenity-laden threats he allegedly made during a subsequent interrogation of one of the suspects.
“Even in the face of adversity, law enforcement officers are expected to conduct themselves professionally, respectfully, and with integrity,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. “They are ambassadors for the rule of law, and when they themselves break those laws, they violate not just the rights of their victims, but compromise the public’s trust in law enforcement.”
Naturally, attorneys for the officers are urging the public not to rush to judgement and claim their clients will be exonerated.
“There is a tendency to rush to judgment in cases like these,” Daniel Kelly, an attorney for Vigneault said outside the court on Wednesday. “We would ask that the public not rush to judgment.”
Bigda was charged with three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of filing a false report.
Vigneault was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
Whether or not the two teens were actually guilty of the crimes which they were accused is unknown as their records are not public since they are children.
It is important to point out, however, that even if they were guilty, the actions of these officers tainted the case. Now, instead of getting the punishment they may have deserved for stealing a car, these two teens will likely receive a hefty settlement for the abuse dished out to them by Springfield’s finest.
Because these two cops couldn’t control themselves, the taxpayers will likely be paying dearly.