Agawam, MA — Three police officers so horrifically beat a man in custody, all of them — a sergeant and two veteran patrolmen — were fired. Now, Police Chief Eric Gillis has released video footage of the brutal attack — and what it shows makes shockingly clear why they lost their jobs.
On June 19, 2016, David Desjardins, Jr., became too inebriated at a bar in the Six Flags New England amusement park; but when a bartender cut him off, he acted belligerently and began arguing. Park security called the police, MassLive reports, who confronted Desjardins and had to use pepper spray several times before they were able to make the arrest.
Agawam Police Officers John P. Moccio and Edward B. Connor, and Sergeant Anthony Grasso, then dealt with Desjardins during the booking process, but claimed in reports the man was drunk and unruly — thus their use of force had been justified. Desjardins was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a police officer.
“Under the policies and procedures, the use of the force was authorized,” said Attorney John Connor, who represents the officers, reports 22News, “They may disagree with that, but that doesn’t mean that these officer didn’t act in accordance with the policies and their training.”
However, video shows Desjardins stripped down to his underwear and seemingly — despite the lack of audio recording — only vaguely disruptive and certainly not deserving of the beating he then receives.
As footage begins, the man sits on a bench in the station and appears to receive a stern talking-to by one officer. Suddenly the officer gestures to another and the pair, along with two others, violently grab Desjardins and force him into a holding cell, containing the typical metal toilet and a concrete slab without any padding.
Desjardins weakly attempts to wriggle free from one officer’s grip and is then roughly forced down onto the concrete slab with three of the four officers holding him down — as one of them uses a baton to beat his back. When that seems not to satisfy the officer, he takes a step back and — as the other two lie on top of the drunken man, holding him down — begins pummeling Desjardins’ kneecaps and ankles with the baton.
Video shows the cops clearly have control of the situation and resistance from Desjardins, if any, is both minimal and likely in self-defense.
As the two officers grip the man’s wrists and head, the third then proceeds to smash the baton against Desjardins’ shins — worse, footage seems to show the tip of the baton being used to jab him in the abdomen or groin.
In obvious pain from this, Desjardins smacks his foot against the concrete slab.
When the officers seem to relent to leave the cell, it becomes apparent one had been using two hands to press the man’s face onto the slab — but even as they move to leave, and he slowly sits up, one officer still casually hits him with the baton.
As Desjardins stands, the verbal altercation continues — but one of the officers then shoves him into the corner of the slab, smashing his head on the concrete and cinder block wall. One officer puts his hands on Desjardins face as if to poke him in the eye or smother him — and though it looks like the beating will begin again, officers cuff his wrists and ankles.
Fully two minutes elapse from the time Moccio, Connor, and Grasso forced Desjardins into the cell until they finally stopped the brutal assault.
Chief Gillis has come under fire for his decision to terminate the officers’ employment — but he has no doubt the firings were justified.
“When I saw the video I was shocked by it,” he told MassLive. “I knew that it was very serious and as the investigation proceeded it became more and more clear to me how serious it really was.
“As chief of police it’s my job to make sure that our officers conduct themselves appropriately at all times and deal with the people we come into contact with appropriately at all times.”
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni informed Gillis recently there would be no charges filed against any of the officers over the barbarous beating.
Moccio, Connor, and Grasso have all appealed their terminations.
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