EXCLUSIVE: Body cam video shows alleged Hamden police misconduct

Cop threatens immigrant with I.C.E.

 

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Last February, Hamden police Officer Andrew Lipford tried to pull over a BMW for a red light violation when the driver allegedly took off.  Cops say Victor Medina led them on a chase, ending in the man’s driveway where Ofc. Lipford threatened to shoot him.

“If you do something that you’re not told you’re gonna get shot!” yelled Lipford.

Attorney Frank Cirillo represents Medina.  “That is shocking to hear and it seems dangerous,” Cirillo said.

But it’s what the sergeant on scene says to Medina’s passenger, which was caught on body cam that has local Hispanic groups outraged.

“Three letters: I-C-E.”

“Using that as an intimidation tactic is a disservice to the community that the police department claims to protect and serve,” said Jesús Morales Sanchez of the group Unidad Latina en Acción.

The apparent reference to Immigration and Customs Enforcement came after police repeatedly accused the passenger of faking his inability to speak English.  Morales Sanchez said the officers’ conduct in the video is unacceptable.

“That just takes away a lot of trust from the police,” Morales Sanchez told us.

Civil rights expert, Attorney John Williams, reviewed the body cam video for News 8 and found multiple constitutional violations.  Williams indicated two specific concerns, including the level of force used on the driver and the alleged unlawful search of the man’s trunk.

Acting Hamden police Chief John Cappiello said he first learned of the video from News 8’s Mario Boone.  The chief released a statement saying, “I only looked at what you pointed out to us in the video and the two specific areas are concerning to me.  I am initiating an internal investigation into this incident,” referring to the shooting threat and ICE comment.

“I’m relieved that the chief is now taking a look at this case.  I think they would be foolish to take this lightly,” Attorney Cirillo said.

Medina was charged with multiple traffic violations, including DUI.  The passenger was released without charges.

On Wednesday morning, Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng issued the following statement in reaction to News 8’s exclusive story:

“Actions taken by some involved were disgraceful, and certainly not representative of Hamden’s values.

I do not expect, and will not tolerate, these types of actions by any of our law enforcement personnel. Acting Chief Cappiello has launched an immediate internal investigation into this incident, and I will work closely with the Chief and the Hamden Police Commission to ensure that that the investigation is as thorough as the situation demands and deserves.

Appropriate action will be taken. As many know, I am a strong supporter of our local law enforcement and respect so many of our public safety men and women that work tirelessly for our community every day. Certain actions taken and words spoken in the video shown today have no business being part of Hamden law enforcement. Period.

Connecticut law clearly dictates our State’s legal policy, which every local law enforcement agency must follow related to detaining an individual based on their immigration status. It makes detaining unlawful, with few and very specific exceptions, such as a violent criminal actions or known gang activity. Our local Police follow this policy; we follow it because it is law, because it increases the safety of all our residents and because it reflect our values.”

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