Police Release Videos in Excessive Force Investigation | NECN


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Police Release Videos in Excessive Force Investigation

(Published Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016)

Hartford police released various audio and video linked to an investigation into possible excessive force by several police officers during an arrest in June after two suspects appeared bruised and cut in mug shots. 

On June 4, police pursued a driver who they said was in a stolen Toyota Camry and loudly honking his horn at Zion and Glendale streets in Hartford.

The driver sped off, ran stop signs and led officers through several residential streets before the chase ended on Flatbush Avenue in West Hartford when officers deployed "speed sticks," according to Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley and a Hartford police report. 

A dashcam mounted in a West Hartford Police cruiser appears to show Hartford officers kicking or stomping one of the suspects, who was in handcuffs, according to police.

While Foley said in a press conference on Wednesday that there are "a lot of issues here" police want to investigate, it was this part of the video that was "most glaring."

Hartford police obtained the dashcam videos from the state's attorney, who is investigating the incident to avoid any conflict of interest. 

"What history has shown and what we’ve seen at a national level is when cops investigate cops within their own department it builds some distrust in the community and understandably so," Foley said at the conference about having the state's attorney investigate Hartford officers involved.

Police identified the driver they arrested as Ricardo Perez, 34, of Hartford. As officers approached the car after the chase, Perez hit a Hartford detective with the car, according to police, and hit four Hartford Police vehicles during the pursuit of the vehicle. 

Perez and the other man he was with, Emilio Diaz, 38, of Hartford, had to be hospitalized and Hartford Police said they launched a preliminary investigation the next day when the suspects' bruised and cut faces appeared in mugshots and raised concerns in the department. 

The report from Hartford Police said Perez violently struggled with officers and a West Hartford officer used a stun gun, but it did not affect the suspect, so an offer punched Perez in the torso.

Perez's mug shot shows a swollen eye and bandages, while Rivera's shows a gash in his head.

Police also said the car Perez was driving was stolen and they found PCP and marijuana inside.

The state attorney has not determined whether criminal charges are warranted but an investigation is ongoing, Hartford police said. 

"It’s difficult any time you see a use of force regardless if it’s a cop I don’t know or a friend. And I can tell you I have friends in that video and that’s why we ship it out to be investigated outside of us. What’s the heaviest part of this is the fracture it creates between us and our city," Foley said on Wednesday.

Later in June, attorney Corey Brinson filed notices on behalf of Perez and Diaz the two men, alleging police used excessive force when arresting Diaz and said they were physically beaten and mentally traumatized.

One officer reportedly was hit by the suspect's car and injured his knee. He was transported to the hospital but did not sustain serious or permanent injuries, Foley said. 

An officer involved in the incident who was part of the department for 20 years retired following the pursuit. Foley said there are no laws in place to prevent an officer involved in a case like this from retiring. 

The Hartford Police Union said there is an ongoing internal investigation and until that is complete, they have no comment.