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Press Release

Former Hadley Police Officer Found Guilty of Using Excessive Force Against Arrestee

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A former Hadley Police Department Officer was found guilty today of using unreasonable force during an arrest and then falsifying a police report of the incident.

Christopher M. Roeder, 49, of Agawam, was convicted by a federal jury after a seven-day trial of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of falsification of a document.

Evidence presented at trial established that, on April 3, 2017, Roeder struck an arrestee in the face without legal justification, while the arrestee was seated on a bench in the Hadley Police Department booking area. The strike fractured the arrestee’s nose in multiple places and required plastic surgery to repair.

It was further established that Roeder subsequently attempted to obstruct the investigation into his assault of the arrestee by falsifying his police report describing the incident.

“Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold and defend the laws of our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “When they abuse their power to violate those very laws, they not only deprive citizens of their individual rights, but they also compromise the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Department of Justice will continue to hold officers accountable for their actions.”

“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,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “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.”

“With today’s conviction, Mr. Roeder finds himself on the opposite end of the very laws he was sworn to uphold. Wearing a badge is a privilege and honor that most law enforcement officers take seriously. It’s not a license to corrupt the administration of justice, but Mr. Roeder clearly forgot that when he broke a man’s nose and tried to cover it up by falsifying his police report. His actions undermined the hard work of the entire law enforcement community,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

The charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in injury provides for a sentence of no greater 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 greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Deepika Bains Shukla of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office and Trial Attorney Timothy Visser of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated February 5, 2019

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 19-74