South Hadley man sues former officer who broke his nose  

  • A still from a video submitted as evidence in the trial of Christopher Roeder shows the former Hadley police officer with Nickolas Peters when Peters was being booked and Roeder broke his nose. U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 4:49:56 PM

HADLEY — A former Hadley police officer who was sentenced to 14 months in prison for fracturing an arrested man’s nose and falsifying a police report about the episode in 2017 is now being sued by that man.

In June 2019, Christopher Roeder was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison after a jury found him guilty on two counts — deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of a document — after he had elbowed a man he had arrested, Nickolas Peters, of South Hadley, in the face in 2017. On Tuesday, Peters filed a lawsuit in federal court against Roeder, Police Chief Michael Mason and the town of Hadley.

Peters’ lawsuit alleges that Roeder unlawfully stopped and arrested Peters, that Roeder used excessive force to assault Peters, and that Roeder and Mason conspired to cover up the incident.

The lawsuit accuses the town of Hadley and Mason of breaking federal law by failing to establish “reasonable” policies and procedures for hiring officers, training those officers, conducting stops and arrests and the use of force. The lawsuit goes on to allege that the defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Peters and maliciously prosecuted him.

The Gazette was unable to reach Roeder’s lawyer, Thomas O’Connor, Mason or Hadley Town Administrator David Nixon on Wednesday. Roeder is currently in the process of appealing his conviction.

During a five-day trial in February, prosecutors argued that Roeder sought to punish Peters for an incident on March 30, 2017, when, Roeder claimed, Peters struck him with his rearview mirror while driving through a construction zone.

Prosecutors said that on April 3, Peters again drove through the same work zone, where Roeder then arrested him, charging him with 10 offenses including reckless assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a police officer. All of those 10 charges were later dismissed by the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

While being booked in Hadley, Roeder fractured Peters’ nose with an elbow strike, bouncing his head off the concrete wall behind him. Two videos of the incident, one with audio, were primary pieces of evidence in the case. Peters’ nose required plastic surgery to fix.

Roeder was sentenced in June, and in October a judge ordered him to report to federal prison on Nov. 5 while he appeals his conviction.

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