Videos of a Massachusetts police detective threatening to beat, murder and plant drugs on two teenagers, then cover it all up — videos which prosecutors sought to keep secret — have been released, thanks to The Republican newspaper.
The videos show police interrogating the two teenagers, who along with a third, police suspected of stealing a police SUV after breaking into a business and stealing rolled coins.
During the videos, Detective Gregg Bigda makes a number of threats against the teens — neither of whom had an attorney or legal guardian present, or were read their rights.
The interrogations were conducted at the Palmer Police Station. Bigda tells both teens that he is eventually taking them back to the Springfield Police Station, which he stresses does not have cameras.
In the first video, he tells a 16-year-old boy in a red shirt: “See that camera up there? It don’t fucking exist [at the Springfield Police Station]. So anything happens to you at my place never happened. If I don’t write it in my report, it never happened.”
He later tells the teen: “You know I’m gonna beat the fuck out of you when you get back to Springfield right now, ’cause you just lied to my face … When we get back, I’m gonna tune you the fuck up, because you just lied to me. And I’m telling you in advance, and I’m being nice to you.”
In the second video, a teen wearing a gray-shirt says that his face hurts. Bigda responds: “You think it hurts now? You know where we’re going after this? We’re going back to fucking Springfield.”
He then explains how the Springfield Police Station doesn’t have cameras. He makes another threat to injure the teen’s face later in the video, even telling him it will require a trip to the hospital.
The threats continue: “I could fucking crush your skull and fucking get away with it.” Bigda then threatens to “fucking bring the dog back, let him fucking go after ya.”
And: “Don’t even fucking speak if you’re gonna lie to me, ’cause I’ll fucking kill you in the parking lot.”
And: “I’ll charge you with killing Kennedy and fucking make it stick … I’m not hampered by the fucking truth, ’cause I don’t give a fuck … I’ll stick a fucking kilo of coke in your pocket and put you away for fucking 15 years.”
In the third video, Bigda threatens the red-shirted teen again: [W]hen we get back to Springfield — I’m not even waiting for Springfield. When we get that fucking lying, I’m gonna bloody your body.”
In all three videos, Detective Luke Cournoyer is with Bigda and does not seem bothered by his threats and coercive interrogation techniques.
Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office recently opened invetigations into the Bigda videos.
The existence of the videos was publicly revealed this summer when defense attorneys, who had obtained them from the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, began quoting them in court to argue that Bigda lacked credibility. The district attorney’s office asked defense attorneys to sign a voluntary non-disclosure agreement before providing the videos.
The videos were not shown in court because Hampden Superior Court Judge Tina Page put them under seal to protect the identities of the teens since they are juveniles. However, Page blasted the district attorney’s office for “borderline prosecutorial misconduct” for its use of NDAs.
The Republican did not say how it obtained the videos and merely reported that it “gained access to the videos this week.” It also edited the videos so the teens’ faces can’t be seen and so that identifying information can’t be heard.
Maida Wasserman, an assistant district attorney, said by phone that the videos are still under seal and the district attorney’s office will not release them in response to public records requests. The Springfield Police Department still has not responded to PINAC’s September 28 request for the video and related police reports even though state law requires a response in 10 days.
The Republican reports that “a number of accused drug dealers have walked out of jail or received more generous plea deals in Superior and District court cases in the wake of the videos having been released to defense attorneys.”
After the three teens accused of stealing the SUV were arrested, Wilbraham police officer Christopher Rogers filed an excessive force complaint alleging that a Springfield detective he could not identify kicked one of the teens in the face, which may explain why the gray-shirted teen was in pain.
After the incident, Detective Steven Vigneault, who was also involved in the arrests, resigned from the Springfield Police Department. But he insists he never kicked anyone.
He did tell The Republican that he saw Bigda spit on one of the teens and yell “Welcome to the white man’s world.” However, he did not file a report about this.
The reported kick is being investigated by the district attorney’s office.
The third teen, who is not depicted in any of the videos, was hospitalized for police dog bites.
For his threats against the teens, Bigda — who has been the subject of more than two dozen complaints — was punished by Police Commissioner John Barbieri with a 60-day suspension.