|By G. Michael Dobbs
City Councilor John Vieau voted to withdraw his own motion that would have asked Attorney General Martha Coakley to investigate Mayor Michael Bissonnette.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – The motion to seek an investigation by the Attorney General (AG) for comments made by Mayor Michael Bissonnette about the disciplining of police officers in the Amanda Plasse murder investigation was withdrawn during an emotional City Council meeting on Oct. 15.
Bissonnette said the investigation into the unethical behavior of some police officers would continue.
During the public speak-out at the City Council meeting, Plasse’s mother, Michelle Mathieson, asked councilors to “stop the finger pointing … and not drag my family through the mud as it has been since June 10, 2013.”
Mathieson had posted remarks critical of Bissonnette’s comments about the police incident on a Facebook page dedicated to her daughter’s memory days before the meeting. The day after the meeting, she made a clarification to that page: “What I stated was that I did not approach the City Council in regards to going to the AG and that I fully supported their decision in requesting an investigation. I don’t know where the confusion came in that I did not want this looked into. I stated that I did not want my daughter’s murder to be a political ploy. Now let’s get the story straight. This is all I have to say at this point.”
At the meeting, she also asked them to “focus on the one thing: find the murderer of my daughter Amanda Plasse.”
The date Matheison cited is when Bissonnette revealed in a press conference that he had learned that several Chicopee police officers had been involved in taking cell phone photos of the crime scene.
City Councilor John Vieau had sponsored the motion that would have asked the Council to send a letter to AG Martha Coakley requesting an investigation into Bissonnette’s remarks about the disciplining of the officers. Vieau had said in the past week there were discrepancies and contradictions in the remarks Bissonnette made about what he knew about the incident and when he knew it.
The council voted to withdraw the motion and to send a letter to Bissonnette asking him to cease any new investigation into the disciplining of the officers. The mayor told Reminder Publications on Oct. 16 that opposition to an outside review of the issue was brought by an officer in the police union as a “distraction.”
Bissonnette said, “This is a concerted effort by some police officers to make [Deputy Chief] Bill Jeb chief.”
The mayor said the investigation would continue.
In his statement to the council, Vieau said that he made the motion “with a heavy heart.”
He added because of Bissonnette’s comments “the city [was] made a mockery; the case [was] made a mockery … people are being misled and need answers.”
Vieau said, “It’s time to call in the chief law enforcement officer in Massachusetts … this horrific crime needs justice.”
Matheison left the council chamber during Vieau’s remarks and one member of the audience said, “You guys are awful,” a remark that silenced the council for a moment.
City Councilor James Tillotson then made a motion to withdraw the motion. Although he said he initially had been in favor of moving forward, he believed “we made our point.”
He noted, “By the time the AG gets the request, the election will be over.”
Tillotson continued, “I want to see the politics out of it. I see it is getting worse looking around the room. I feel the emotions now are so high we need a cooling off period.”
Councilor Frank Laflamme replied he did not think the motion was politically motivated, but said he would support a withdrawal, so it could be brought back for consideration after the election.
Councilor Chuck Swider reminded his colleagues, “This is the Police Department’s problem.” He added there is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer.
Councilor Dino Brunetti said, “I didn’t think it’s political at all.” He explained this incident reminded him of two years ago when he and Vieau brought the issue of forged signatures on petitions that would have put a question on the ballot concerning extending the term of mayor to four years. Bissonnette was running for re-election and supporters were running the signature drive. An investigation into the forgery put blame on Bissonnette’s former chief of staff Frank Lapointe and exonerated the mayor who won re-election.
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