Ex-Hadley officer guilty of breaking prisoner’s nose

  • JERREY ROBERTS The Hadley Town Hall.

  • A still from a video submitted as evidence in the trial of Christopher Roeder, 49, who was convicted of using unreasonable force during a 2017 arrest and of then falsifying a police report of the incident. U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/6/2019 12:25:32 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A federal court jury has convicted a former Hadley police officer of using unreasonable force during a 2017 arrest and of then falsifying a police report of the incident.

Christopher Roeder, 49, was convicted Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield on two counts: deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of a document. The charges stemmed from Roeder striking a man he had arrested in the face with his elbow while he was sitting on a bench in booking at the Hadley Police Department on April 3, 2017. The blow fractured the man’s nose, requiring plastic surgery to fix.

“Police officers put themselves at risk for the public good every day. The defendant, however, diminished the sacrifices of his fellow officers by violating the constitutional rights of an arrestee,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “Law enforcement officers are rightfully held to a higher standard and, on the very rare occasions when officers refuse to meet that standard, they will be held to account.”

Efforts to contact Roeder’s attorney, Thomas O’Connor, were unsuccessful late Tuesday.

Prosecutors in the case argued that Roeder sought to punish the man for an incident on March 30, 2017, when Roeder claimed that the man struck him with his rearview mirror while driving through a construction zone.

Prosecutors said that on April 3, the man once again drove through the work zone, making eye contact with Roeder, who 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 the arrestee’s nose with an elbow strike, bouncing his head off the concrete wall behind him. After striking the arrestee, Roeder eventually brought him to jail, which initially would not accept him and instead insisted he be taken to the hospital. 

Two videos of the incident, one with audio, were primary pieces of evidence in the case. 

Prosecutors said that in his report on the incident, Roeder made several false statements, including that the arrestee made an obscene comment while being photographed during booking; that Roeder used his right hand to gain control of the man’s left arm while ordering him to stop resisting; and that Roeder had no other options than to strike him in the face.

Roeder was fired after the incident.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in injury carries a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of falsifying a police report provides for a sentence of no more than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. 

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for May 14. 

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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