4 Springfield Officers Disciplined In Beating Case

A police officer was fired Thursday and three others were suspended without pay following allegations that a city man was beaten with a police flashlight during a traffic stop.

Police Commissioner William Fitchet announced the disciplinary actions following a three-day hearing by the Community Police Hearing Board. Fitchet said the evidence reviewed by the board included amateur video of the November arrest of Melvin Jones III.

Officer Jeffrey Asher, who was accused of repeatedly striking Jones with the flashlight, was fired.

Asher, a 17-year veteran of the force, was charged this month in Holyoke District Court with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in connection with the incident. He has been out on stress leave since January, shortly after the video surfaced. In September, the Springfield Retirement Board granted Asher a disability retirement, but a state retirement panel has the final say on the matter.

Lt. John Bobianski and Officer Michael Sedergren were suspended without pay for 45 days and Officer Theodore Truoilo was suspended without pay for 15 days. All three were ordered to undergo retraining upon their return to duty, and Sedergren was ordered to go through anger management retraining.

Bobianski, Sedergren and Truoilo, who have not been charged criminally, were present when Jones was pulled over and arrested on a charge of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

They said Jones grabbed for an officer's gun and that Asher was justified to use force to subdue him.

The Springfield police union, which had defended the actions of the officers, could not be reached Thursday night.

Jones is black and the four officers are white. The case sparked complaints from black clergy and others in the city of police brutality.

"The men and women of the Springfield Police Department continue to protect and serve the public in a professional manner," Fitchet said in his statement. "The citizens who live and work in the City of Springfield should have confidence, like I do, in their abilities to keep our city safe."

As a result of the probe, Fitchet said he was forming a standards unit to work with the department's existing internal affairs unit to review reports of anyone in police custody requesting medical treatment due to injury. Jones' family said the beating left him partially blind in one eye and with broken bones in his face.

The criminal charge against Jones is pending.

This program aired on October 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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