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.”


Enfield council begrudgingly settles police brutality lawsuit for $30K

ENFIELD — The Town Council on Monday begrudgingly approved settling a federal lawsuit for $30,000 filed by a local man in 2015 who claimed police used excessive force in arresting him on four different occasions.

The council voted 7 to 1 at its meeting at Town Hall in favor of settling the lawsuit, despite multiple council members wishing the town could fight the lawsuit at trial.

Councilwoman Donna Swezczak, who is also deputy mayor, was the only council member who voted in opposition, stating that a decision like this should never be “unanimous.”

The lawsuit filed by Patrick Ward named as defendants the town, the Police Department, former Police Chief Carl Sferrazza, Sgt. John Carney, Officer Marianne Christensen, Officer Michael Emons, and two unidentified officers, claiming they violated his constitutional rights and used excessive force in arresting him.

Ward was arrested in August 2012, January 2012, September 2012, and September 2014.

Following the lawsuit, an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Police Department found no evidence to support Ward’s claims.

In each of the four situations — in which Ward was charged with various infractions, including separate claims of assault and one instance of illegal dumping — the internal affairs report stated that the officers interacted with Ward without incident, requiring no use of force, thus negating the need to file use of force reports.

The report also mentions Ward never filed a complaint with the Police Department, but Hartford lawyer A. Paul Spinella, who represented Ward and other plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against the department, previously stated that his clients failed to file complaints due to intimidation from officers and threats of being arrested.

Councilwoman Gina Cekala said she wanted people to understand that the settlement of Ward’s lawsuit wasn’t an easy decision, but her fiscal responsibility to the town and the taxpayers outweighed her personal feelings on the issue.

“Believe me, no one wants to try some of these cases more than me, but it’s not always in the best interest of the residents in this town to fight something that’s going to cost exponentially more to fight than if you settle it,” she said.

Mayor Michael Ludwick explained that due to an insurance policy clause known as the “hammer clause,” if the town didn’t settle, it would have to incur the costs associated with going to trial for both the town and Ward.

He added that if the town lost the case at trial, it could be on the hook of upwards of $250,000.

“Sometimes making bad policy is the right thing to do,” he said.

As much as Ludwick said he would have loved to go to trial, the financial conservative in him couldn’t risk forcing the taxpayers to pay that kind of money.

He said that the facts of the case are that the police acted appropriately.

“We support our police 100 percent, but on the advice of the potential and realistic additional costs that we simply don’t have, we decided to settle,” he said.

Of the $30,000 settlement amount, the town will pay $25,000 and the its insurance company will pay $5,000.

Councilman Joseph Bosco said it was “really sickening” having to vote for something that’s not right, but it was a Catch 22 situation, and this was the best outcome for the residents.

Ward’s lawsuit was just one of 11 cases claiming excessive force brought against the department after an April 2014 incident between officers and Windsor resident Mark Maher.

While the department found that former Officer Matthew Worden had used excessive force in detaining Maher, Sferrazza had repeatedly defended the department, denying any sort of trend of bad behavior.

Ludwick said that Ward’s lawsuit was the last of the cases to be settled.

Spinella could not be reached for comment.

“Enfield council begrudgingly settles police brutality lawsuit for $30K”, https://www.journalinquirer.com/towns/enfield/enfield-council-begrudgingly-settles-police-brutality-lawsuit-for-k/article_b588346a-eddc-11e8-97fd-875303ab55af.html

EXCLUSIVE: Family of teen allegedly abused by Bridgeport police officers speak out

BRIDGEPORT — An investigation is underway into Bridgeport Police officers use of force after a video surfaced showing an officer allegedly beating a teenager over the weekend.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez said he placed several officers on administrative status while the Office of Internal Affairs investigates. In the video, 18-year-old Aaron Kearney can be seen face-first against a car hood while his mother pleads for police not to hurt him.

“Don’t hurt my son,” the mother cries to police. “You’re punching my son.”

“I am,” a female officer in the can be heard responding, “get back.”

That unidentified female officer can be seen in the video hitting Kearney’s face.

“Why is she fu***** my son up,” the mother says, with a response from the same officer, “get back or you’re next.”

FOX61 spoke exclusively with Kearney’s aunt Tiffany Elliott.

“That’s what we have a serious issue with right now because you should not be in law enforcement if you’re threatening people like that,” Elliott said. “By saying “you’re next,” is she next to get beat up? Is she next to be detained for no reason at all? We don’t know what she meant by that, but it was wrong.”

Bridgeport Police said they were responding to a minor accident on Seaview Avenue involving Kearney, Friday at about 9:30 p.m. Police said they learned during a routine check that his license was suspended. When police told Kearney he would have to appear in court for driving with a suspended license he, “became outwardly belligerent and violent towards the officers, who then felt the need to call for backup,” according to police.

Police said he was violently resisting police officers claiming he was both verbally and physically abusive.

Bridgeport Police said the video raises “serious questions,” about tactics used during the arrest resulting in an immediate internal investigation.

“The Bridgeport Police Department takes this incident very seriously and our primary concern is always for the safety and protection of every resident of our city,” A Bridgeport Police Department spokesperson wrote in a statement Saturday. “However, if there was a violation of police arrest protocol or excessive use of force, we will get to the bottom of it and provide accountability for the department and our community.”

Elliott said the family wants justice for Kearney.

“I really don’t think she should be in law enforcement, she needs to have some kind of evaluation done, because it was too much, it was really excessive force,” she said.

Elliot said they come from a family of police officers. Kearney’s grandfather was a Bridgeport Police officer for nearly four decades. She said her mother also retired from Bridgeport Police and her step-brother is a former New Haven Police captain.

“There are several good cops out there,” Elliot told FOX61. “I mean, cops are there to help us and we know that but there are a few that I think are using their badge the wrong way and that’s what we need to put a stop to.”

Kearney’s family said he has never had trouble with police before and has attended summits with Perez on improving community relations.

His family said he was captain of the football team at Harding High School, he graduated last year.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando J. Perez released a statement regarding the incident:

“The Bridgeport Police Department is committed to public service and the safeguarding of the public’s dignity and constitutionally afforded rights.

The men and women of the Department work tirelessly day and night, often at great peril to themselves to make Bridgeport a better and safer community.

When it comes to my attention that there are legitimate questions surrounding an officer’s use of force, I place that officer on administrative status. This status removes the officer from contact with the public while the case is expeditiously and vigorously investigated by the Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs. This measure is taken to protect both the officer and the public while the officer is afforded their due process.

I have taken this step with the officers involved in the incident Friday night following a motor vehicle accident on Seaview Avenue, some of which was filmed on video and posted to social media.

In the event that an officer is found to have knowingly and willfully violated policy by using excessive force in the performance of their duties, I will make every effort to see that officer separated from their employment with the Bridgeport Police Department and where applicable arrested and charged with a crime.

As the Chief of Police, I have a zero-tolerance policy for abusing the citizens who we are tasked and sworn to protect and serve.

It is unfortunately also common for Bridgeport Police officers to face situations that require the use of force, up to and including the use of deadly force. I continue to support my officers who meet the standards of reasonableness in these situations when such a use of force is justified.”

Kearney is charged with breach of peace and assault on a police officer.


, by Associated Press and Jenna DeAngelis, November 13, 2017, Fox61.com, “EXCLUSIVE: Family of teen allegedly abused by Bridgeport police officers speak out”, http://fox61.com/2017/11/13/exclusive-family-of-teen-allegedly-abused-by-bridgeport-police-officers-speak-out/

Watertown Police: Officer Suspended For Alleged Misconduct

Sandra Gomez-Aceves, November 2, 2017

An officer was placed on paid administrative leave following an incident of alleged misconduct, Police Chief John Gavallas said on Thursday.

The officer, who was not named, was placed on leave on Oct. 9 pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations, Gavallas said.

Gavallas did not provided details about the incident, but said that it occurred on Oct. 7 and that “upon speaking with several people close to the situation,” he determined that immediate and appropriate action needed to be taken.

Gavallas said the investigation was passed over to state police and the office of the chief state’s attorney to avoid a conflict of interest.

Gavallas said he would have no further comment regarding the incident until the investigation is completed.


Sandra Gomez-Aceves, November 2, 2017, “Watertown Police: Officer Suspended For Alleged Misconduct”, http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-br-watertown-officer-suspected-alleged-misconduct-20171102-story.html

Meriden police captain fired following lengthy internal investigation prompted by retaliation claims


MERIDEN — Police Capt. Patrick Gaynor, accused of committing 63 department policy violations, including misconduct and untruthfulness, was terminated Monday.

The move was recommended by Charles Reynolds, a former police chief in New Hampshire, who acted as hearing officer for the case.

Gaynor, a city police officer since 1996, declined to comment Monday. He was placed on paid administrative leave in December, a month after he returned to work following two months of paid leave during an investigation into the alleged misuse of city funds by Gaynor while he served as interim head of the city’s dispatch center. In that investigation, Reynolds determined Gaynor did not misappropriate funds.

From this section:
Meriden police union president retires after 32 years

After Police Chief Jeffry Cossette initiated the investigation into the misuse of funds, Gaynor filed a complaint against Cossette alleging the chief engaged in a pattern of retaliatory behavior since the federal conviction of his son, former police officer Evan Cossette, in 2013.

Attorney Daniel Esposito, who represents Gaynor, said Monday that he plans to file a grievance in coordination with the city police union contesting the termination. Esposito said in a statement that the decision “represents but one step in a process that we are confident will result in Captain Gaynor’s vindication,” adding that of the 63 counts, only three were sustained by Reynolds.

“Our attention will now shift to a hearing before a panel of the Connecticut Board of Mediation and Arbitration,” he said. “Pursuant to said hearing will be the power to subpoena witness testimony and documentary evidence, which we expect will lead to Captain Gaynor’s reinstatement.”

The internal investigation that resulted in Gaynor’s termination Monday was initiated in December by City Manager Guy Scaife after law firm Berchem, Moses & Devlin’s $51,724 investigation failed to substantiate Gaynor’s retaliation complaint against Cossette.

Sgt. Christopher Fry conducted the most recent investigation, which included reviewing over 10 hours of recorded interviews conducted with Gaynor by Berchem, Moses & Devlin Attorney Paula Anthony. The interviews explored Gaynor’s previous claims regarding his removal from snow tow duty, a 2014 performance evaluation and the cancellation of the DARE program. Fry concluded Gaynor “may not have properly prepared supporting information that would have substantiated his complaint,” and may have violated 63 department policies, including conduct unbecoming of an officer, the accountability, responsibility and discipline policy, the dishonesty and untruthfulness policy, falsifying records, retaliatory conduct and violating the chain of command.

Reynolds conducted a disciplinary hearing with Gaynor on May 19. His 20-page review examined Gaynor’s allegations of retaliation by Cossette and found there was a lack of evidence presented to support the claims.

“This is unfortunate because, when reviewing the voluminous material involved in this matter, I find reason for concern regarding various internal matters, which may be cause for review, if evidence based,” Reynolds wrote. “The evidence provided by you generally consisted of innuendo and unsupported statements, which in several instances, could have been verified, mitigated or negated had you made an effort to do so. Rather, it appears you simply advanced multiple allegations believing/hoping the volume of complaints would support the notion of retaliation.”

Reynolds states Gaynor’s allegations were made with “reckless disregard for facts and evidence,” which is not protected by “work-place speech.” He found Gaynor violated three department policies: the accountability, responsibility and discipline policy, the dishonesty or untruthfulness policy and the retaliatory conduct policy. Gaynor’s actions “exacerbated” tensions within the police department, Reynolds said, adding that his decision to recommend Gaynor’s termination was a difficult one given the challenges of police duty.

“To be sure, I have evaluated several corrective options, including suspension, demotion, professional counseling as well as various combinations thereof to quell the hostility and allow you, the Chief and members of the MPD to return, as you would say, to normalcy,” Reynolds wrote in his decision. “However, the primary impediment to each of those options is your willingness to be untruthful, both with the allegations and with the support provided for them during the two investigations. Truthfulness is the stock and trade of any police officer.”

Gaynor received a letter Monday notifying him of his termination, “effective immediately.” The letter notes that pension paperwork and calculations will be sent to Gaynor and any remaining sick or vacation time will be paid out in the next month. Finance Director Michael Lupkas said calculations on Gaynor’s pension could take several weeks.

Scaife said the evidence against Gaynor was “extremely compelling.”

“I think the report speaks for itself,” Scaife said Monday. “It’s unfortunate things turned out the way they are. It’s been a long process, but it is over.”

Four other pending internal affairs investigations into Gaynor’s conduct remain open. Scaife said the status of those investigations will depend on if Gaynor decides to challenge his termination. Officials haven’t released details on the pending investigations.

“They are serious, open issues that certainly won’t go away,” Scaife said.

Cossette issued a statement saying that Gaynor’s “attacks” on him, his family and Deputy Chief Timothy Topulos “are without merit and unacceptable.”

“When officers undermine the public’s trust and confidence and perpetuate rumors, innuendo and false statements that give rise to a perception that negates the department’s ability to achieve its mission, the law enforcement profession mandates that they be removed from office,” Cossette said via email. “As the investigative report and findings reveal, Mr. Gaynor engaged in a pattern of untruthful behavior designed to undermine my authority as Chief of Police. As such, he negatively impacted the agency’s ability to achieve its mission and win the public’s trust and confidence. The correct result was achieved in this matter. We will move forward as a Department and continue to work in partnership with our neighborhoods to build trust and effectively achieve a common goal of a safe community.”

Gaynor filed an intent to sue notice with the city in September. New Haven-based attorney John Williams, who represents Gaynor in the action, said he expects file the lawsuit by the end of the week.

“In our view, (Gaynor’s termination) is clearly a case of retaliation,” Williams said. “We believe it’s retaliation for having been a whistleblower specifically for having testified in federal court as a prosecution witness against the chief’s son.”



Cop suspended for harassing college student

BRIDGEPORT – A veteran city police officer was suspended without pay for harassing a female college student.

Rafael Duran, a 24-year veteran of the department who in recent months has been a fixture at the Police Department’s front desk, was handed down a 10-day suspension following an investigation by the city’s Office of Internal Affairs.

“This is a great job, protecting and helping people but some people just don’t appreciate it,” said Police Chief Armando Perez. “What he (Duran) did was clearly wrong.”

Perez said Duran was accused of harassing a female student at Housatonic Community College. Police sources said that harassment included running the young women’s license plate to get her home address.

“The student made a complaint to the school and the school contacted OIA,” the chief said. He said Duran subsequently admitted his conduct.

No criminal charges were made.

Perez said the complaint was made during the prior administration.

“I just regret that it took two years, much too long for this to be resolved,” Perez said.


Court Documents Relay Details on Allegations Against State Troopers Charged With Kidnapping

The state troopers have been suspended.

Two state troopers have been arrested and charged with kidnapping, assault and additional charges after a man reported that one of the troopers beat him for hours in the other trooper’s Wethersfield home, hit him with a nightstick and made him kneel on a metal grater, according to court documents.

Troopers Rupert Laird, 30, of Manchester, and Xavier Cruz, 30, of Wethersfield, were arrested on Tuesday on six counts, including with kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm, deprivation of rights by force of threat, assault second degree with a firearm and conspiracy. State police said both men have been suspended.

According to court paper work, Laird is accused of brutally beating the man because the victim touched a woman the state trooper knows. The alleged assault happened at Cruz’s Wethersfield home when both state troopers were off-duty.

Police began investigating on Monday, Feb. 20 after a nurse from Saint Francis Hospital reported that a man arrived there to be treated and said he’d been beaten on Saturday.

After speaking with the nurse, police officers met with the victim, who was in pain and covered in dark purple bruises on his chest, back, thighs, stomach and buttocks, according to court documents.

When police spoke with the victim, he provided a detailed description of the alleged attack and said Laird punched him at least 20 times, kicked him as many times and struck him with a police baton at least 15 times.

The night started at Club Karma, on Airport Road, the victim said. He’d been there with Cruz and other people, drinking and smoking hookahs. After the club closed, the group went to Cruz’s house, where they had more drinks, according to the arrest warrant application.

At one point, the victim flirted with a woman and grabbed her buttocks. When he asked if she minded, she said, “no,” according to the victim.

The woman had a different version of events. When police spoke with her, she said the man was more aggressive. She relayed to officers that she felt the man crossed the line and said she told him he was bothering her, court documents state.

The man who accused Laird of the assault said he left Cruz’s early Saturday morning but returned around 8 a.m. because his girlfriend locked him out of the house.

When he got back to Cruz’s, Laird showed up and blocked him in the driveway, the victim told police.

Inside the house, Laird allegedly pulled a gun, pointed it at the victim and said, “You know I can kill you, right?” according to the victim.

“You know what, I’m not even going to do this because I’m a cop, but I’ve got connections,” Laird said, according to the victim. “If I was going to kill you no one would find your body,” he added.

After putting the gun on a shelf, Laird grabbed a police baton and told the victim he would “pay” for touching the woman, according to police documents.

Then Laird said, “We’re gonna settle this the old school way” and ordered the victim to take off his glasses and to strip down to his underwear, according to the victim, who said he did what he was told out of fear.

The victim went on to tell police that Laird bashed him into sheetrock, forced him to his knees and kicked him in the chest, hit his thighs and buttocks with the police baton and made him kneel on a metal grater.

During the alleged beating, Laird got winded and took breaks to drink beer. At one point he whispered, “You don’t think this is the first time I’ve done this?” the victim told police.

After the beating, Laird handed napkins to the victim and ordered him to clean up the blood that was splattered all over the floor, on the wall and on the refrigerator, according to the victim.

When he was done clearing, Laird told Cruz to take video.

Then Laird hit the victim again twice with the baton, forcing him to fall down, and took photos of the victim’s license, the man told police.

Before leaving, Laird warned the man not to tell people what happened and instead say the bruises were from being drunk and falling down, court paperwork says.

When police spoke with Cruz, he wasn’t willing to speak about what happened in his house, according to the court paperwork. While in the basement, investigators noticed what appeared to be drops of blood, including on the carpet and on the refrigerator.

Cruz turned himself in to police on Monday night and Laird turned himself in on Tuesday morning, according to Wethersfield police.

Cruz was released last night after posting $750,000 bond and Laird is due in court today.

Both state troopers have been arrested on six counts and charged with kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm, deprivation of rights by force of threat, assault in the second degree with a firearm, conspiracy and coercion. Cruz was released last night after posting $750,000 bond.

Photos: Mug Shots and Official Photos of State Troopers Charged With Kidnapping, AssaultPhotos: Mug Shots and Official Photos of State Troopers Charged With Kidnapping, Assault

Laird and Cruz have been placed under house arrest and were ordered to surrender their firearms, permits to carry and passports.

Laird’s attorney called him an “asset to the community.”

State police said in a statement that the department holds all members accountable.

“Immediately upon learning of the egregious conduct of two off-duty state troopers, Tpr. Rupert Laird, Troop C-Tolland, and Tpr. Xavier Cruz, Troop K-Colchester, the Connecticut State Police suspended their police powers, confiscated their weapons, badges and patrol vehicles, and opened its own administrative inquiry. Both troopers are suspended pending the outcome of the proceedings,” a statement from state police says.

The police union also issued a statement, “The members of the Connecticut State Police Union strive to uphold the high standards of professionalism and public service that each of our members swore to uphold when they became Connecticut State Troopers. While we are disappointed to learn that two State Troopers have been the subject of a criminal investigation, all of the facts and circumstances involving the alleged incident have yet to be reported and that the public should not rush to judgment based on headlines alone. Regardless of the outcome of the cases against these two State Troopers, it is important to remember that State Troopers risk their lives to protect the public and that for every report like this, there are hundreds of examples of heroism and public service by the members of our Union.”

Wethersfield police are the lead investigators, according to state police.

Danbury cop arrested for using unnecessary force on handcuffed suspect


DANBURY — Police said a 15-year veteran of the Danbury Police Department was arrested.

Police said Officer David Williams turned himself in after learning there was a warrant for his arrest on the charge of breach of peace.

Police said the arrest comes after a months-long investigation by the Connecticut State Police after the Danbury States Attorney’s Office discovered a video that showed Williams using unnecessary force against a handcuffed suspect on July 29. The suspect had been arrested for assaulting another Danbury Police Officer.

The Danbury Police Internal Affairs Division conducted a separate investigation and found Williams to be in violation of several department policies.

Police said a formal disciplinary hearing will be held soon and there may be other departmental charges now that he has also been arrested.

Danbury cop arrested for using unnecessary force on handcuffed suspect

Conn. College student says he was assaulted by officer previously fired for brutality incident

Police said in a press release that Messier, 21, began to interfere and “exacerbate the situation.” Police said he was “directed several times by officers not to interfere and to keep his distance,” and was warned he’d be arrested if he didn’t comply. When he didn’t, he was arrested and charged with interfering with police.

On Wednesday, FOX 61 learned that the arresting officer, Joshua Bergeson, was fired three years ago by then Mayor Daryl Finizio after an alleged beating and pepper spraying incident, but the union filed a complaint with the state labor board for a wrongful termination. The case was settled and Bergeson got his job back.

“Because we have an open investigation going, into what allegedly took place that night, I am not able to comment on any of the details of the case at this time,” said Deputy Chief Peter Reichard of the New London Police Department.

However, the department did release a statement on its Facebook page:

The New London Police Department is committed to investigating all complaints against its members in an open and fair manner with the truth as its primary objective. It is the policy of the New London Police Department to maintain an effective and efficient administrative system to receive, process, and fairly investigate all complaints against its personnel.

A relationship of trust and confidence between the personnel of the New London Police Department and the citizens of our community is essential to the successful accomplishment of law enforcement objectives. All New London Police Department employees are expected to conduct themselves in such a manner as to reflect favorably upon themselves and the department.

As a result of this fundamental belief, an internal investigation of the Connecticut College incident was ordered by Chief Margaret Ackley on Sunday, October 16, 2016 after being notified of complaints of police misconduct associated with the incident. Deputy Chief Peter Reichard has been assigned the internal investigation by the Chief. The disposition of the internal investigation along with the relevant facts shall be made public upon completion.

While opinions on this incident will vary and incite emotion, we hope that everyone will remain civil and respectful along with maintaining an open dialog with us.

Despite claims from both the police and Messier, the parents of the girl who was allegedly assaulted deny the incident. In a statement to FOX 61, they said:

We are the parents of the female student involved in the incident at Connecticut College, for which the actions of the New London police are under investigation.  We fully support the actions of Connecticut College in this matter. We would also like to state, unequivocally, that the call to the police was the result of a misunderstanding, and that no domestic assault actually occurred.  At no time did any student assault another student.  We send our love and support to all of the students involved.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said it’s trying to change laws to ensure that incidents like this are properly investigated.

“The ACLU, this next legislative session, is going to call for the creation of a truly independent police oversight agency to handle incidents like this and give a true neutral perspective on what happened,” said David McGuire, acting executive director of the ACLU.

Meanwhile, Connecticut College says it’s doing its own internal investigation, but that Messier’s decision to intervene in what he perceived to be a volatile situation is actually encouraged on campus.

“Bystander intervention is a hallmark of our campus culture, and the initial steps taken by students demonstrate this commitment,” said Victor Arcelus, the Dean of Students at Connecticut College.

Here is the full statement from Arcelus and Connecticut College:

I write to inform you about an incident that took place in one of our residence halls this past weekend. Early Sunday morning, a student called 911 and Campus Safety requesting assistance with an incident involving individuals in a residence hall room. Officers from the New London Police Department (NLPD) and Connecticut College Campus Safety responded.

Before the officers arrived on the scene, students helped defuse the situation by intervening directly with the individuals involved. During the interaction between the NLPD and the individuals, the situation unfortunately escalated and resulted in three arrests.

On Sunday and Monday, Student Life staff reached out to and met with the individuals involved to learn more about the incident, and we are also interviewing the Campus Safety officers present on the residence hall floor. In addition, I met with leaders within the NLPD to discuss my concerns and those raised by individuals about their interaction with NLPD officers. I appreciated learning that the NLPD has already initiated a review of the officers’ actions. I will continue to be in contact with the NLPD to follow up on this case and to discuss their response protocols on our campus.

Student safety is our priority at Connecticut College and members of our community take steps every day to support and protect each other. Bystander intervention is a hallmark of our campus culture, and the initial steps taken by students demonstrate this commitment. As always, I am here to talk if you have any questions.


Jury Awards $202,000 To Man, Daughter Whose Dog Was Killed By Hartford Police


Edmund H. Mahony

A jury in federal court awarded $202,000 in damages Friday to a father and daughter whose pet dog was shot by Hartford police searching for a cache of gang guns during a rushed search later determined to have been illegal because the officers had not stopped to obtain a warrant.

The 10-year-old case continues to generate strong feelings on both sides. The police said a hunt for guns during a spike in gun violence was in the public interest and that the dog was attacking an officer. Glen Harris, whose fenced-in yard on Enfield Street was cursorily searched, thinks two officers acted recklessly by entering his property and killing one of the normally mild-mannered family pets, a 115-pound St. Bernard.

Late Friday, it seemed as if the verdict would not end the decade of legal disputes associated with the case. There were also questions about whether it would cause officers to hesitate while making decisions in fast-breaking situations involving public safety.

The city of Hartford, a defendant in the suit, has said in court that it will not pay anything because it is not obligated to indemnify officers implicated in an illegal search. Some observers say they believe the city was bluffing in an effort to lower the price of a negotiated, pretrial settlement.

Regardless, Harris family lawyer Jon Schoenhorn said the two officers involved – Sgts. Johnmichael O’Hare and Anthony Pia – are personally obligated to split $32,000 in punitive damages the jury awarded Harris and his daughter.

Last month, a federal magistrate, in anticipation of a verdict for Harris and his daughter, placed a $750,000 attachment on O’Hare’s property and $650,000 on that of Pia.

Schoenhorn said he will be billing the city for as much as $140,000 for the cost of bringing the suit and another $500,000 or so to cover his fee for a decade of legal work that involved two trials and a successful appeal to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Harris said he is not entirely satisfied with the verdict.

“To some degree,” he said. “I’m happy that the jury sided with us. Do I think they (the police) will never do it again? I don’t think that’s the case.”

Schoenhorn disagreed.

“I think this verdict will act as a deterrent and it will send a message,” he said.

The police officers, their department superiors, a police union spokesman and Hartford officials were not immediately available Friday night. Thomas Gerarde, the lawyer representing the officers and the city, has declined to discuss the case and said in court, after the verdict had been returned, that he may move to retry it.

The case provided a stark look back at a time when the city was threatened with being overwhelmed by a spike in violence caused by warring drug gangs on the north side. The police department had created a new unit to defuse the problem, and officers were under pressure to find and seize illegal caches of weapons.

On Dec. 20, 2006, the gun crackdown ended up at Harris’ home at 297 Enfield St. That morning, O’Hare had been involved in a high-speed pursuit of a suspected stolen car that culminated in a frantic foot chase, over fences and across backyards, in pursuit of the driver.

O’Hare caught the driver, but not before being injured in the chase. He was ordered by a supervisor to report to a hospital for treatment. En route to the hospital, Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia were diverted to Harris’ home.

Another officer had just arrested a gang member who was found to possess dozens of bags of heroin. The gang member wanted to make a deal. If the police helped him get a break with the prosecutors, he would direct them to two guns that he said were hidden in an abandoned car in Harris’ fenced-in property.

Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia raced to 297 Enfield. They walked inside the fence, found no abandoned car and prepared to leave. He said they did not know that, on the other side of the house, Harris’ daughter, identified in court as K, had just returned home from school and had let one of her two St. Bernards out the back door.

K testified that the dog, named Seven and her favorite, suddenly looked up and tore away toward the front of the house.

At the front of the house, Gerarde said, O’Hare and Pia spotted a big dog charging and broke into a “full sprint” to get away. He said O’Hare heard the dog growling and snapping at his heels and turned to command it to stop. When the dog didn’t, Gerarde said, O’Hare shot twice.

K, in the meantime, said she was running toward the front yard on the other side of the house when she heard the two shots. When she got there, she testified that she saw the dog lying on its side and and yelled, “No. Don’t shoot.”

She said O’Hare shot the dog a third time, in the head, then turned to her and said, “I’m sorry, Miss, your dog is not going to make it.”

Harris has been pressing his suit since 2008. In a first trial, in 2012, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny ruled that the police did not need a warrant to enter Harris’ yard because they were acting in the public interest, literally racing to find guns before gang members could move them. A jury at the first trial ruled in favor of O’Hare and Pia.

Two years later, an appeals court reversed the verdict, concluding that the officers should have obtained a warrant before entering Harris’ property because there were no exigent, or emergency, circumstances.

The verdict Friday followed emotional testimony about how the shooting of the dog traumatized K. She, and others, testified that she has become an emotional wreck and that, as a result of the shooting, she had suicidal impulses and was briefly institutionalized.

Gerarde produced documents and elicited testimony suggesting that K had a difficult childhood and showed suicidal impulses that predated the dog’s death.