SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A judge has dealt out a legal victory for one of the Springfield police officers charged with assault in the Nathan Bill's case.
Documents obtained by Western Mass News show the judge is allowing the prior criminal histories for two of the victims in this case to be used as evidence - evidence to show Springfield Police Officer Daniel Billingsley was using self-defense, not assault, to protect himself.
Michael Cintron and Paul Cumby are considered victims in the investigation into the Nathan Bill's brawl, but a district court judge has ruled their prior criminal history will be allowed as evidence.
The motion was filed by Shawn Allyn, the lawyer for Springfield Police Officer Daniel Billingsley, who is charged with assault.
Monday, Judge Bruce Melikian sided with Allyn, allowing Cumby's arrest records from Holyoke, Springfield, and Palmer police stations to be subpoenaed, along with Cintron's arrest record from Springfield.
"It could be huge. It really can be dramatic for a jury to have that context," said defense attorney Joseph Pacella.
Western Mass News spoke with Pacella, who we should note is not representing anyone in this case. He said he believes the goal in securing these records into evidence is to show that defendant Billingsley was just defending himself against two men with prior criminal history.
"You come to court with whatever baggage you've created for yourself and you can't just walk in and erase all that if you're a violent person, if you've done things in the past," Pacella explained.
Western Mass News found prior assault and battery charges for Paul Cumby dating back to the 1990s
"[Even if it is, as in Paul Cumby's case, and those charges were dismissed?] Just because they were dismissed doesn't necessarily mean that didn't happen or there wasn't some knowledge of violence," Pacella noted.
So the question is posed: did Officer Billingsley know about Cumby and Cintron's past arrests the night they brawled near Nathan Bills back in 2015?
Allyn said it doesn't matter and told Western Mass News: "The judge even went as far to say that Mr. Billingsley didn’t even need to know of their prior violence at the time they encountered him in order to show the victims’ prior propensity for violence."
"It's important for the jury to consider whether somebody's been violent before in determining whether or not they may have been the first aggressor," Pacella said.
Officer Daniel Billingsley remains suspended without pay, along with the 12 other current Springfield police officers indicted in this case by a grand jury.