Springfield police officer acquitted of abusive interrogation could be reinstated to force
A Springfield, Massachusetts, police officer acquitted of excessive force and abusive interrogation remains suspended from his job without pay. But officials haven't ruled out his reinstatement.
A 2016 police videotape showed white narcotics officer Gregg Bigda threatening to kill a Latino youth and frame him on drug charges. The youth was one of three juveniles accused of stealing a police cruiser.
A federal jury this week found Bigda not guilty of excessive force and coercive interrogation.
Talbert Swan, head of the Springfield NAACP, said the verdict demonstrates a deeply racist criminal justice system in need of reform.
“I think there was a collapse on all parts,” Swan said. “On the part of the prosecution to emphatically make the case for his guilt. And on the part of the jury in seeing the evidence that was presented, and still coming to the conclusion that this person was not guilty.”
Despite the acquittal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he did not support Bigda’s reinstatement to the police department.
“This has been a stain and dark cloud hanging over the department for well over six years,” Sarno wrote in a statement. “I have seen the video tape. My feeling is there is no place for him on the force.”
But Sarno said the authority to make that decision rests with Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
In a statement, Clapprood wrote: "As law enforcement officers, our faith is placed in the judicial system. We respect the decision of the court. The Springfield Police Department will diligently review the court transcripts to ensure that our Internal Investigations Unit has all the relevant facts, which will govern any personnel decisions going forward."
Swan said the NAACP would fight any effort to reinstate Bigda as a police officer.
He also said his group is also considering whether to ask the state attorney general to charge Bigda with state crimes. Bigda remains the subject of civil litigation regarding the same incident.