A Connecticut College student is alleging police brutality after campus safety and New London Police responded to a reported domestic violence call inside an on campus student dormitory early Sunday morning.
Lee Messier said he and his girlfriend heard commotion coming from a nearby dorm room, along with a woman's pleas for help, so he went to see what was going on.
Messier said when police showed up and he tried to explain the situation, he was assaulted by three or more officers and left concerned with the way he says they were treating the potential female victim.
Messier was charged by New London Police with interfering with an officer/resisting arrest. Police said in a release that Messier “began to interfere and exacerbate the situation,” and refused to comply with officers' orders to keep his distance.
Police also said a 20-year-old male and a 22-year-old female were both arrested for the domestic incident. They have not been identified.
But Messier is calling the officers’ behavior "very aggressive and inhumane."
On Facebook, Messier, who is the son of a retired Rhode Island state trooper, described his version of events. He explained hearing loud thuds and thumps in a neighboring room and a female calling for help.
Messier wrote that when he peered into the room he saw a man who took off. Messier said he entered the room and found a woman “crying hysterically” who thanked him for intervening. According to Messier, shortly afterward police and campus safety showed up and began questioning the victim, who asked them to go away. When Messier tried to step in, he claimed he was assaulted and then arrested.
Messier wrote he was "in shock because the officers are acting so combatively towards not only the victim but also to us."
"I thought it was sad because at least from his point of view he was trying to help and police not listening," said student Andre Thomas, who saw the Facebook post.
New London police have launched an internal investigation into the matter. They released a statement, which read in part:
"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."
New London Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard has been assigned to the internal investigation. He is interviewing everyone, documenting everything and reviewing the entire arrest process. The results will be made public when the investigation is complete, police said.
Former basketball teammate Alex Hall says he believes Messier.
"Did Lee maybe not listen to orders exactly because it's a stressful situation for everyone, but I think right steps are taken by both parties," Hall said.
"He's a good kid and stands up for what is right."
Connecticut college officials say they've been working with New London police to learn details/protocols of their response.
Deborah P. MacDonnell, the Director of Public Relations at Connecticut College released the following statement:
"This past weekend an incident occurred at Connecticut College that led to a 911 call and response from the New London Police and Connecticut College Campus Safety, which led to 3 arrests.
We have been in touch with the NLPD to learn the specific details and protocols involved in their response, and we understand that the police have already issued a department review of their response to the situation on campus.
At Connecticut College the safety of our students is a top priority and we remain committed to ensuring that our students feel protected."
The family of the 22-year-old woman at the center of the investigation reached out to NBC Connecticut with a statement that read in part, "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."
There hasn't been any action taken against any officers this early into the investigation.