Gregg Bigda Videos Highlight Torturous Teen Interrogation
November 10, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Springfield, Massachusetts narcotics detective Gregg Bigda enjoys a level of job security most of us don’t. He can threaten teenagers with charges ranging from simple possession to the Kennedy assassination. Bigda can even threaten children with a K-9 if he feels like it. His punishment for these heinous actions and more, committed against three juveniles, was a sixty-day suspension.
Three teenagers allegedly stole a narcotics unit car while a detective went inside a pizza place to pick up a late night order in February. The trio’s “joy ride” ended when police deployed spike strips and corralled the teens after a short foot chase. Bigda and his partner, Luke Cournoyer, decided arresting the kids wasn’t good enough. They needed a good scare, and the Palmer Police Department’s interrogation facilities were a great place for that.
In recently released video, Bigda threatens to plant false charges on one teen, boldly proclaiming he could have the minor charged with anything from cocaine possession to the murder of a long-deceased President. He threatens another with fears of additional harm from a K-9 dog that injured a teen during the foot chase. Detective Bigda even threatens to kill the teens for lying when they return to Springfield.
“Motherf—er, I’ll charge you with killing Kennedy and f—ing make it stick,” Bigda barks at one of the boys. “So don’t f—ing tell me what you’re not going to get charged with. I’m not hampered by the f—ing truth because I don’t give a f—. People like you belong in jail. … I’ll f—ing charge you with whatever I — I’ll stick a f—ing kilo of coke in your pocket and put you away for f—ing 15 years.”
Detective Bigda, the subject of over two dozen civilian complaints and prior disciplinary proceedings, apparently isn’t hampered with the truth and truly does not concern himself with repercussions over his actions, even if it’s threats to kill kids in the parking lot of a police station. What should concern him is that the teens’ arrests, and subsequent interrogation, are illegal under Massachusetts law, and could bring grounds for a civil rights suit in federal court. The Bay State takes the rights of children under detention quite seriously, and this interrogation broke the law.
When a child between the ages of seven to eighteen is arrested and taken to a police station, Massachusetts law requires the officer in charge of the station to which the child is taken to immediately notify the probation officer of either the area’s district or juvenile court and at least one of the child’s parents. While it’s not directly apparent, Palmer’s Chief, John Janulewicz, or any administrative officer on duty that evening, failed to take such precautions. Occam’s Razor dictates mom and dad weren’t notified on this one. That’s because the videos were sealed to protect the juveniles’ identities.
It could also have something to do with Assistant DA Mary Sandstrom’s fear that release of the video would “embarrass” Bigda and the Springfield Police Department. Concerns of justice aside, Sandstrom required defense attorneys to sign “non-disclosure agreements” if they wished to view the Bigda videos. This was all in the interests of the court, according to the prosecution, because “unfettered release” would turn the court into a “shooting gallery” to mock the police department.
“I would argue to you that that would — that such disclosure would simply embarrass them. The only point of disclosure would be to ridicule them, Your Honor,” Sandstrom told [Judge Tina S.] Page.
Unfortunately, Judge Page wasn’t quite buying ADA Sandstrom’s bill of goods. Calling the non-disclosure agreement “borderline prosecutorial misconduct,” Judge Page opted in October to keep the video under seal solely to protect the identities of the juveniles in the video. Now that the footage is public, and the world can see Bigda for what he truly is: a thug with a badge and a gun who thinks he can get away with terrorizing children and breaking the law at his will.
In a sane world, Bigda would lose his job, be stripped of his peace officer license, and never be allowed around a child again. The world is not sane, and this is Fault Lines, so regular readers know Detective Bigda’s two-month vacation was a “very lengthy” suspension in the eyes of Police Commissioner John Barbieri. Detective Bigda also “expressed remorse” for his actions, and hadn’t amassed a “serious disciplinary history.” Furthermore, if Barberi fired Bigda, there was a chance the termination would be overturned on appeal, and that process could cost taxpayers money they didn’t need to waste.
Justice be damned when there’s taxpayer savings to be had. That’s the justification Police Commissioner Barber expects Springfield, Massachusetts’ citizens to swallow in allowing a monster unfit for service to remain on the payroll. They must really like it up there in Springfield, to paraphrase writer Warren Ellis, when people with authority they never earned lie to them.