A Meriden woman is accusing her hometown police officers of "excessive force" after sustaining injuries to her face and back that she said police caused.
Graphic photographs of the face of Mary Bunch are part of the reason why she no longer trusts her local police department. The images appear to show substantial injury to Bunch's face. She said that the cuts and the bruising appearing in the pictures were caused by officers in her hometown police department in Meriden.
“I’m spitting out blood," said Bunch. "My eyes can’t see. My face was burning.”
Bunch accuses officers of "excessive force" after a Sept. 19 incident at her home. She said she arrived and tried to disperse a party that had been going on. Police were called to the scene. Bunch said that when officers arrived, they mistakenly went after her.
“Next memory I have, I woke up in the police station and I was like ‘why am I in here.’ I’m going crazy," Bunch said.
Bunch said she was knocked unconscious and arrested. She was later charged with assault on an officer and breach of peace.
The Meriden-Wallingford NAACP wants answers about what happened in Bunch's case. Soon, those answers may come. The Meriden Police Department has launched an Internal Affairs investigation after Bunch filed a formal complaint against the officers that responded to her home in September.
“We would like for any of the police officers that have anything to do with this be held accountable," Jason Teal, president of the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP, said.
Police in Meriden have faced allegations of brutality before. Officer Evan Cossette served time in jail after getting caught on surveillance video pushing a handcuffed prisoner inside a cell. Cossette's father, Jeffry Cossette, was and is Meriden's Police Chief.
“The Chief has created an environment that allows these things to happen," Teal said.
Sgt. Darrin McKay, who serves as as spokesperson for the police department, declined to discuss Bunch's case beyond a statement.
“This matter is being investigated very thoroughly and at the completion of the investigation all of the facts and circumstances will be made available," McKay wrote to NBC Connecticut.
“The fact that this is believed to be police brutality; this is heightened in a sense on the radar screen of our department," said Kevin Scarpati, a city councilor and also mayor-elect of Meriden.
"It’s taken much more seriously," he said.
Bunch, meanwhile, said she is a victim of the very officers who have been sworn to protect her. “I know I didn’t do anything wrong," she said. "That’s basically all I have to say.”
Bunch said that the incident involving the police officers may have been captured on cell phone camera. The Internal Affairs investigation could take several months to complete. When it is complete, the findings - and perhaps that cell phone video - will be released to the public.