SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Springfield police officer is facing charges following an on-duty incident in September.
Jim Leydon, spokesperson for the Hampden County District Attorney's office, said that 35-year-old Leon Davis of Springfield has been charged following that incident, which occurred on September 29, 2020.
On that date, officers were called to the Tower Square Hotel for a report of a disorderly person.
When police arrived, they reportedly attempted to gain access to the room, which was occupied by a male and female who had been asked to leave.
Leydon noted that the woman allegedly made threats toward hotel employees and when officers made contact with her, she reportedly continued to make threats and offensive comments through the room door.
Investigators told Western Mass News that body cam video from the incident shows a hotel employee breaching the hotel door as officers stood nearby to go inside.
Davis, with his department-issued taser in his hand, tries to go in, but reportedly struggles to open the door as a hand is seen wrapped around the edge of the door. He then applies the taser to the hand and the hand retracts and police enter the room.
A statement from the D.A.'s office explaining the video's contents added:
"Officer Davis enters the room first and the female is seen crouched in a corner on the other side of the door. Her hands are raised in a defensive manner in front of her, as she states “please don’t” and frantically apologizes. Officer Davis states “You wanna play those games, huh?” and immediately deploys the drive stun function of his taser for the second time in the area of the female’s right shoulder. The woman continues to plead and then states that she is pregnant several times. Officer Davis then states again, “You wanna play games”. During this interaction, the victim’s disposition is passive, compliant, and docile."
The female then pulled her arms and hands tight to her chest as she flinched from the application of the taser. Davis then allegedly deployed the taser again to her upper left arm.
The D.A.'s office added:
"The female remains in this defensive position and begins to plead with officers, stating that she is sorry and also states again that she is pregnant, several times. The officers begin the process of placing handcuffs on her in this same small space behind the hotel room door."
Davis reportedly deployed a drive stun for a fourth time - to the females' right shoulder - while her left arm is pressed between a wall and her body and another officer secured her right arm.
The D.A.'s office noted that based on the body cam video, "the victim does not resist and remains yielding and passive" throughout the encounter.
Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said in a statement:
“The evidence shows that this officer’s actions are clearly outside of his training, as they were punitive and grossly excessive, and therefore criminal. This type of conduct has no place in policing and police officers who engage in abusive and excessive uses of force must be identified and immediately re-trained or fired. As we have seen here and across the country, this kind of misconduct undermines the trust that the community must have in its police departments and serves to sully and frustrate the work and reputation of the many good police officers who make up the vast majority of those departments."
Davis is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against a pregnant victim.
Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood added in a statement:
“Our Quality Assurance Unit while auditing Body-Worn camera footage flagged a September 29th incident involving an officer drive-stunning a female who was being trespassed from a hotel. We immediately began an IIU investigation and on December 4th notified the District Attorney’s office, who was also in possession of the body-worn camera footage since the day after the arrest, of the potential of criminal charges.
When the District Attorney’s office decided to move forward with criminal charges on December 22nd, our IIU investigation was put on hold pending the outcome of this case. The officer has been on restricted duty.
I am surprised to see the Body-Worn Camera footage released as this is very much still under investigation.”
Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, has been outspoken regarding police reform in the city and questions why its taken four months for charges to be filed.
"We have another incident of police misconduct that looks like it was headed to be swept under the rug," he said.
The charges against Davis come more than six months after the narcotics department was under fire for excessive force during arrests.
"In the middle of a scathing Department of Justice report that criticized Springfield for the lack of accountability around these issues with it being played out again right before our eyes," he added.
Davis will be summoned to Springfield District Court for arraignment on April 5.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.