O’Brien, a more than 25 year veteran on the force, has been on paid administrative leave for nearly two years and continues to earn over $100,000 a year. According to Brian Griffin, the vice-chair of the West Springfield city council, the incident in question occurred in September of 2011.
In that incident, a woman who had been taken into protective custody at The Big E was being booked at the West Springfield police station when she allegedly began spitting and yelling at the officers.
According to Griffin, after several attempts to calm the woman down, O’Brien determined that the woman could not be controlled so he ordered officers to tape her mouth shut. An investigation into that incident was launched by West Springfield authorities a short time later. The investigation eventually made its way to the Hampden County District Attorney’s office and then was handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The U.S. Attorney’s office determined that there would be no criminal charges filed.
However, during the investigation two other similar incidents involving O’Brien were uncovered from earlier in his career. “The findings are there were a number of rules and regulations violated in the taping incident with the woman that brought this to light.
There was also 2 other incidents involving the chair. One in which a hood was placed over an individuals head and tape was wrapped around his head again. Another female was placed in the chair. Put into a straight jacket all against policy,” said West Springfield Police Chief Ronald Campurciani.
The details of those other incidents were not made available. After a full investigation, O’Brien was cleared by the U.S. Attorney’s office of any potential criminal charges in all three cases.
An internal investigation is still ongoing at the West Springfield Police Department to determine whether captain O’Brien violated any department regulations.