Former police officer sentenced to prison for excessive force and obstruction

“Officers aren’t only expected to enforce the law in their communities, they are expected to follow it themselves.”

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A former Massachusetts police officer was recently sentenced to more than a year in federal prison after breaking a man’s nose without legal justification and lying in his report of the incident in order to obstruct an investigation into the assault. Earlier this year, a jury found the ex-cop guilty of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of falsification of a document.

On April 3, 2017, the victim, Nickolas Peters, was reportedly sitting on a bench in the Hadley Police Department booking area when Hadley Police Officer Christopher Roeder suddenly struck Peters in the face with his elbow, which caused Peters’ head to bounce off the concrete wall behind him. The impact broke Peters’ nose in several places and later required reconstructive surgery.

According to Roeder, Peters had clipped him with his car while driving through a construction zone in March 2017. Although Roeder wrote false statements in his report regarding the attack against Peters, all charges against Peters were eventually dismissed.

Shortly after Roeder had been indicted on federal charges, he was subsequently fired from the department. On February 5, Roeder was found guilty of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of falsification of a document.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni sentenced Roeder to 14 months in prison and one year of supervised release.

“Officers aren’t only expected to enforce the law in their communities, they are expected to follow it themselves,” stated U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “In this case, an officer broke a man’s nose for no legitimate purpose and then, in an effort to cover up the attack, falsified official documents about the incident. This behavior is unacceptable in someone entrusted with protecting the public safety.”

“Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold and defend the laws of our nation,” asserted Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Roeder abused his power and violated the constitutional rights of an arrestee, eroding the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Department of Justice will continue to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions.”

“As a police officer sworn to uphold the law, Mr. Roeder’s conduct deliberately abused the authority bestowed upon him, undermining the integrity of our criminal justice system,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office. “The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers perform their duties with dedication and integrity, putting their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. This case illustrates the FBI’s commitment and ability to address isolated incidents where officers betray the badge and the public’s trust.”

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