The City of Springfield has just provided the “Rebuttal to the Department of Justice Investigation of the Springfield, Massachusetts Narcotics Bureau”.
In the ongoing effort to uphold the law, including those that protect the accused, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office has provided this material to the Hampden County Lawyers for Justice and the Committee for Public Council Services, as well as, making it publicly available on its website, www.HampdenDA.com.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “Assertions made in the DOJ report remain a concern to this day, as they call on our ethical duties as prosecutors to provide any information to defendants that could point to their innocence or aid them in their defense. Despite our best efforts to obtain this critically important information from the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice, we have been repeatedly denied and our lawsuit is still pending in federal court. Our goal has always been to get the specifics of these serious allegations so that we can ensure the rights of accused persons are protected and fairness results from our work. If there are bad cops who are dishonest and not following the law, we want to know about it and make sure they do not stand as witnesses in our cases or affect the fairness of our criminal justice system.”
On July 8, 2020 the United States Department of Justice issued its report, “Investigation of the Springfield Massachusetts Police Department’s Narcotics Bureau”. The report concludes that officers in the Narcotics Bureau engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive force often violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The report also asserts that officers submitted reports that were inaccurate and contrary to other video, photographic, and other available evidence. The report, however, does not reveal the names of officers or any identifying information about the cases in which these abuses purportedly occurred.
The findings of the DOJ report created an ethical obligation for the Hampden District Attorney’s Office to provide any potentially exculpatory material to defendants in cases in which these officers may be involved. In seeking to fulfill these obligations, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office made multiple requests. After the report’s publication, the written requests began in August 2019 to the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, which asked that they provide identifying information of the incidents cited in the report. All of these requests were denied.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office also requested this same specified material from the City of Springfield. However, the City of Springfield stated it was unable to pinpoint officers or cases implicated by the DOJ report because only the DOJ knew which of the hundreds of thousands of documents the DOJ accessed in formulating its report. In lieu of these specifics, the City of Springfield granted the Hampden District Attorney’s Office access to the full universe of documents to which the DOJ had access, which exceeds 114,000 pages.
Then City Solicitor Edward Pikula (now retired) responded to Hampden District Attorney Gulluni with a letter, which included the following excerpt:
“As I am sure you are aware, shortly after receipt of the Report, the Police Commissioner assigned personnel to review the incidents described in the Report in an effort to identify the specific dates of incidents, police officers that could be identified, as well as individuals who are referenced in the Report. While some descriptions make rather obvious reference to known cases widely reported in the media involving case information previously disclosed to your office, for example, references to an incident relating to juveniles arrested in Palmer, or an incident occurring near the Nathan Bills Restaurant. Some incidents described in the Report the Police Department believe it has been able to identify with a reasonable degree of certainty. However, there remain a number of matters referenced which could not be fully identified with certainty and the effort to do so is ongoing.”
While the City asserted that specific and certain knowledge of exactly what the DOJ referenced in its report was impossible, it became known that an internal document was created by a high-ranking official with the SPD, which posited what cases and officers were implicated based on informed assumptions. But, with litigation still pending between the City of Springfield and the U.S. Department of Justice, the City determined it could not provide this document, entitled “Rebuttal to the Department of Justice Investigation of the Springfield, Massachusetts Narcotics Bureau” and denied several requests by the Hampden District Attorney’s Office to provide it.
Given that all conceivable efforts were made to access the information to which only the DOJ had access and knowledge, and yet none were successful, Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court seeking to compel the U.S. Department of Justice to produce any documents the department used as the basis of its findings.
Presumably, now that the City of Springfield’s litigation with the DOJ has concluded, the City has forwarded this document to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office. While this document is not what has been sought from the Department of Justice, it is the best known and now accessible document that can shed light on the basis of the federal government’s investigation.
Attached is a copy of the “Rebuttal to the Department of Justice Investigation of the Springfield, Massachusetts Narcotics Bureau”, the pending federal lawsuit, the supporting documentation, and the Hampden District Attorney’s Office’s Exculpatory Material Policy.