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AG’s office wins in Nathan Bill’s police assault, cover-up prosecution

AG’s office wins in Nathan Bill’s police assault, cover-up prosecution

SPRINGFIELD — City police officer Jose Diaz pleaded guilty to the first felony in a lengthy investigation into a 2015 brawl between off-duty police and four black men outside Nathan Bill’s Bar and Restaurant — a much-needed push for the state attorney general’s office granted victory.

Diaz, 58, was sentenced Monday morning by a Superior Court judge to two years’ probation, while prosecutors argued the veteran patrolman should spend six months behind bars.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Carle argued, “The defendant was a police officer, and he lied to another police officer in his own department.” “And we’ve seen the negative impact of this in serious investigations.”

Diaz was convicted of a felony misdemeanor charge of lying to an internal affairs investigator seven years ago trying to determine who was in a fight after citizens filed a complaint. The department’s own documentation regarding the incident was scant, to say the least, and made no mention of off-duty officers being present.

Diaz claimed that he was only at the bar for 10 minutes on April 8, 2015, to help one of the owners clean up empty beer bottles at the end of the night. She told retired Internal Affairs Sgt. William Andrew had only heard rumors about the battle, but was not involved, and did not see any of his allies at the scene.

However, witnesses who testified in a jury-excused trial this month told Judge David M. Hodge that Diaz first arrived at the bar after a night of heavy drinking and waved a gun at civilians in a nearby parking lot as men surrounded him. Was. Other officers involved in the brawl said they saw Diaz lying on the ground, almost unconscious as soon as it began. Diaz’s ex-girlfriend said she found him the next morning lying on his pillow covered in blood with black eyes.

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Prosecutors argued that Diaz had eluded local, state and federal investigators for years by not telling the truth about the night. The investigation caused significant upheaval for the department after a statewide grand jury indicted more than a dozen officers in 2019. Many defendants were acquitted after trial, or through other legal means including acquittal.

Diaz’s defense attorney Jeremy B. Powers said he intends to appeal the decision.

Many members of the police department maintain the state’s attorney general and the FBI made the one-time fight a molehill, while community activists see the case as a blatant abuse of power and civil rights.

Members of both the groups have suffered serious injuries in the fight. One of the Black Guardians, H. of Chicopee. Paul Cumby suffered a broken ankle, loose teeth that eventually had to be pulled, and other wounds. Cumby has testified in four separate trials on the long-running prosecution and was in court Monday morning for Diaz’s sentencing hearing.

He presented Hodge with a Victim Impact Statement, from which Carley read excerpts.

“My life was never the same after the attacks. I am unable to work and am now permanently disabled,” wrote Cumby, 54. “I seek accountability that has been obstructed by the many officers involved. I yearned to know how my leg was broken… since I fainted, but even after seven years the silence remains.’

Diaz was acquitted of multiple assault charges during a separate trial in May after three other officers and one of the bar’s owners were acquitted. During a March trial, two officers were convicted of misdemeanor assault. He also received a sentence of probation.

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Diaz got off on bail in a plea deal aimed at resolving the confusing felony case over concerns he could still forfeit his pension after more than 20 years on the police force. Powers said that is almost certain now following his sentencing.

Two trials are still outstanding: two for allegedly contributing to a cover-up of on-duty officers and another for perjury to a bar owner. However, there are aspects in those cases that are subject to appeal.

“We expect to continue pursuing the remaining two appeals in this case,” said Thomas Dalton, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

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