A newly unsealed federal indictment against two police officers alleges that they used unreasonable force when arresting two Latino juveniles, and that one of the officers falsified his report about the case.
Springfield, Massachusetts officer Gregg Bigda and now-former officer Steven Vigneault face charges for the incident, which allegedly took place on Feb. 27, 2016.
According to prosecutors, Bigda used a weapon while engaging in unreasonable force against an underage person, then spat on him and said, “welcome to the white man’s world.” Vigneault allegedly used unreasonable force against the other juvenile. Bigda then allegedly questioned both of them without their parents present and without reading them their Miranda rights. Then things continued to get ugly, according to an announcement by the Justice Department.
Bigda allegedly made a number of threats against one of them, including threatening to kill him and saying he’d “crush [his] skull and [expletive] get away with it.” He also allegedly threatened to “bloody” the other child’s body.
Video of the interrogation circulated in 2016.
Bigda allegedly filed false reports with the Internal Investigations Unit, with one saying he did not kick anyone or see anybody else kick anyone during these arrests. Another report allegedly made the false claim that he did not spit on anyone or say, “welcome to the white man’s world.”
Vigneault resigned in the aftermath of the arrests, but denied being violent, according to MassLive.
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling spoke out against the defendants.
“Even in the face of adversity, law enforcement officers are expected to conduct themselves professionally, respectfully, and with integrity,” 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. My Office is committed to holding our public servants accountable under the law and prosecuting those who abuse their positions of power.”
Bigda was charged with three counts of violating the civil rights of arrestees and one count of obstructing justice by writing a false report, and faces a maximum of more than 40 years in prison.
Vigneault was charged with one count of violating the civil rights of an arrestee, which carries a maximum of ten years.
[Image via MassLive screengrab]