Police brutality comes up frequently in the media. But, many people believe these types of situations occur rarely, or do not happen near them. Unfortunately, police brutality is a systemic problem that happens all over the United States, including West Haven, Connecticut. On this page, you can learn more about police brutality in West Haven, Connecticut.
What is Police Brutality?
First, it is important to understand what police brutality is. Police brutality happens when a police officer or government official uses excessive force on an individual or individuals. Even though government officials are allowed to use force to protect themselves and others, they need to use an appropriate amount of force given a situation. If there is no reason for force, or if an inappropriate amount of force was used given the situation, police brutality can occur.
In these situations, the victim can file a complaint with the relevant government agency to get justice. They can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Police Brutality in West Haven, Connecticut
There have been recent instances of police brutality in West Haven. Learn about the details below:
- An investigation into a West Haven officer’s conduct in January 2018 was ruled use of unreasonable and excessive force. The article linked here mentions that surveillance video showed the officer use a “leg sweep” move on a handcuffed suspect which caused the man to fall headfirst onto the concrete floor. The man suffered lacerations above his eye and required medical attention. The Chief of West Haven police concluded the move was a substantial risk of bodily harm or death and was not taught in the police academy. It is reported that the Chief of Police has tried to get this police officer fired twice so far for many different disciplinary actions in his file, but the Board of Police Commissioners has voted against him each time. Some of the police officer’s other disciplinary conduct includes; drinking on the job while carrying a firearm, firing a gun from a moving car, putting a firearm to his own head, and crashing patrol cars five different times. One of the crashes alone was worth over $5,000 in damages.
- In 2013, over a five-year period, West Haven police have had 11 lawsuits of excessive force filed against them. The article linked in the sentence above claims that three of these lawsuits were settled for a total of $131,000. There are accusations that West Haven police have not been properly trained to deal with individuals who do not speak English and making derogatory comments at them. One of the lawsuits was by a food truck worker who filed for 1 million dollars in damages. She alleges that an officer approached her food truck aggressively and demanded to see her vending permit and told her customers to leave. He then demanded to know if she was a U.S. citizen, pushed her down on the prep table, handcuffed her, and dragged her out of the truck, causing her to fall. The woman says she suffered many injuries such as abrasions to limbs and pain in the back and was also humiliated by the situation.
- This same article claims that one other lawsuit from this five-year period was filed by a couple and their child for excessive force by West Haven police used during a birthday party in October 2009. They alleged an officer assaulted and knocked the husband/father to the floor, and mocked the family and guests for speaking Spanish. The man suffered lacerations, contusions, and abrasions to the face, wrists and hands, and painful headaches. This case went to court in March of 2012 and the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $119,000 in damages. They eventually settled for $110,000.
If any of these situations sound familiar, a police officer may have abused their power. For additional help, contact our office.