The Slatest

Feds Indict Two Massachusetts Cops Who Allegedly Beat Latino Teens and Said, “Welcome to the White Man’s World”

Still image from surveillance video of man and teen in a jail cell
Springfield officers interrogate a teen suspect in a videotape taken inside a jail cell.
screen grab from video via the Republican–MassLive

Federal prosecutors arrested and indicted two Springfield, Massachusetts, police officers Wednesday for using “unreasonable force” in their arrest of two Latino teens in 2016. One of the officers, Gregg Bigda, allegedly spit on one of the teens and told him, “Welcome to the white man’s world.”

During videotaped interrogations with the 15- and 16-year-old boys, according to the indictment, Bigda told one he would sic a police dog on him, would “crush” his skull and “get away with it,” and would “kill” the teen “in the parking lot,” as well as threatening to plant drugs on him and send him to jail for 15 years. He also threatened, the indictment alleges, to beat the second teen and “bloody” him.

One of the teens claimed in a lawsuit that he “was transported to the hospital with a fractured nose, two black eyes and numerous head contusions,” according to the Washington Post.

The teens were arrested in 2016 after, according to MassLive, they took an SUV for a joyride—it turned out to be an unmarked police vehicle that one of the cops indicted Wednesday, Steven Vigneault, had left running in a parking lot while he picked up a pizza.

This was not the first time either cop had been accused of police brutality: In 1997, according to MassLive, Bigda “was one of four police officers standing in the background on a video where officer Jeffrey Asher was seen kicking a black man in the face.”

Bigda’s alleged assault on the teen suspects in the car theft was first reported in 2016, but only in a police complaint that “accused an unnamed, plainclothes Springfield officer of kicking a teenage suspect in the face while he was on the ground in handcuffs, and suggests the same officer had bloodied the nose of another.”

Vigneault was named in that article and later resigned from the Springfield police force. Bigda was then suspended for 60 days. A video later surfaced that showed the interrogation.