GREENFIELD -- Greenfield police are getting heat for a traffic stop conducted in February. The suspect says the officers used excessive force when they pulled him over. Now, department officials are sharing their side of the story.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, Greenfield police pulled over a driver for having a missing and expired license plate. The officer then learned the driver had a revoked license -- and wasn't wearing a seat belt. The officer issued several tickets and a stern warning -- get a ride home because if I see you driving again, your car will be towed. Ten minutes later, the officer and driver met again on the road.
Instead of pulling over right away during a second encounter in one night with police, the driver, Tevin Gagliano, continued on for several blocks. He then turned into a gas station. That is when the situation escalates.
Dash cam video shows Gagliano sticks both hands out of the window and words were exchanged between him and the officers.
Gagliano eventually got out of the car -- and in a matter of seconds, things got physical.
The 23-year-old man was handcuffed on the ground. Gagliano tells FOX6 News the dash cam video is proof he was not being combative -- and is a victim of police misconduct. He declined, however, to do an interview.
Greenfield Police Captain Sean Licht disputes Gagliano's complaint.
"When they had their hands on this gentleman, they felt tension, they felt him pulling away. You can't necessarily see that on video," said Licht.
In fact, Licht praises his officers for how they handled the tense moments.
"We teach our officers to end these things as quickly as possible to prevent future injury," Licht said. "We train to take people to the ground, and we do it at a controlled rate."
The department now has a message for Gagliano and the public.
"Even if you do feel you are being pulled over wrongfully, you don't have the right to resist," Licht said. "There is a time and place for you to contest that. And that's court."
Gagliano has since been charged with failing to stop and resisting an officer. He said he is seeking legal advice, but his end goal is just to get those charges dropped.
Below is Gagliano's full statement of what he says happened. It was written in a letter to community activist Tory Lowe.
Dear Tory Lowe,
I recently was driving up forest home when the Greenfield police pulled behind me and pulled me over. My plates had been suspended from not passing the emissions test. They searched the car inside and out for about 15 minutes. The officers searched me and the friend I was with about 4 times each.
They seemed pretty aggressive as they searched us. They then ticketed me for every possible thing that they could. They drove away and I tried to find someone to come and drive me and my car home. My 1 year old son was sitting in the back seat screaming and crying. I was only about 5 minutes from home so I attempted to make it home. They were waiting for me up the block and pulled me over again.
I turned my hazards on and because they were so aggressive the first time I didn’t feel comfortable pulling over anywhere until I knew it was somewhere with cameras. I pulled into the gas station and parked right in front of the security camera. They pulled up behind me and got out of their car pointing their guns at my car.
They knew I had no drugs or weapons due to the search prior. Officers knew I was with my child. When I saw the gun I put my hands out of the window so they would know I was cooperating. They then walked up to the car and tried to open the door and it didn’t open. My car was previously broken into so the door was broken. I opened the door for him and he pulled me out of the car, he slammed me into the car and onto the ground.
I was yelling stop I’m not resisting, as they were yelling stop resisting. And then they started beating me up and hit me with resisting and fleeing. I feel the officers would harm me the first time I was pulled over. I pulled in to the gas station cause I knew the cameras would be on.
This was truly excessive force and I did not deserve to be beaten for a traffic stop in front of my son. I am filing a complaint to the department of justice.
I honestly believe these officers need to be disciplined for the way I was handled. Please share this post so this won't be swept under a rug.