Former State Rep To Outsiders: Don’t Rush To Judgment On Officer Santiago

Edna Garcia, who served four terms in the State House representing the 128th District in the East Side of Bridgeport and a Bridgeport public high school teacher of 28 years, posted this commentary on Facebook in response to a citizen protest of a city police officer who discharged a weapon inside the Bagel King in the North End. From Garcia:

Last Monday, sixteen people, most of them outsiders who don’t live in the City of Bridgeport decided to protest in front of the Bridgeport Police Department. These sixteen outsiders were coached by James Keyser, a Republican who lost his bid to a City Council seat. Thank God he lost!

Joining him were the following; a Tea Party organizer, Palin Smith, Elizabeth Drysdale and her daughter Sunshine both whom live in Waterbury, her father Cal who lives in Naugatuck, Dan Cewe, who lives in Glastonbury, David Ragozzine, who lives in Winsted, Justin Mountinho who lives in Waterbury, Lenny Benedetto who lives in Stratford and Marcel Fontaine who lives in Norwalk.

They all stood in front of the Bridgeport Police Department demanding the “head” of police officer Juan Santiago.

The issue at hand was their dissatisfaction with the way the Bridgeport Police Department is handling an incident in which police officer Juan Santiago “ACCIDENTALLY” discharges a firearm in a crowded Bagel King restaurant on Main Street last week.

The group accused the Bridgeport Police Department of having preferential treatment for cops and politicians in the city of Bridgeport. Waterbury resident Elizabeth Drysdale said, “There’s one set of laws applied to police and politicians, and another that’s applied to private citizens. If I had fired that gun inside a crowded restaurant, I would have been taken out in handcuffs, my gun would have been seized, my permit taken away and my children placed in protective services. That officer must have missed the class that deals with firearm safety.” These are her exact quotes.

Yes, Mrs. Drysdale, you or I, would have been certainly taken in handcuffs if we went to any place and fired a gun. Officer Santiago did not purposely go into Bagel King to fire a gun at any one. It was an accident!

The one Latino demonstrator in the group, Angel Martinez, who presented himself as being a member of a Bridgeport watchdog group called Connecticut Cop Block, stated:

“A badge doesn’t get you any extra rights, but it’s not uncommon for a police officer to get away with things.”

Shame on you Martinez! for throwing another Latino like yourself under the bus. If you thought there was an issue that needed to be addressed in your own city, why did you not rally the support of city residents instead of siding with outsiders?

It is not that I am against any city residents demonstrating if they feel that the system has failed them. Even when I am in disagreement I can still respect people’s right to voice their concerns.

However, what infuriates me in this particular case is that a group of individuals who do not live in our city came here to impose their subtle, divisive, racist opinion on our community with the excuse that because police officer Santiago was not arrested on the spot, somehow, he has been given preferential treatment.

There is not denying, that officer Juan Santiago has some explaining to do. I am sure this was an accident, and there is no denying that this is a serious matter. Someone could have gotten seriously wounded or killed. It is not my intent to diminish the seriousness of this incident but there is a process that takes place. I have full confidence in Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett, because I know him to be a decent Public Servant, just like officer Juan Santiago, who abide to the letter of the law every time.

Officer Juan Santiago had been admitted to the hospital. You just can’t arrest someone without knowing the circumstances that led to the incident.

That is not “preferential treatment” it is part of due process in our justice system. Police Chief Gaudett, was correct in being cautious before making any assumptions, because he needed to ensure that he was not violating anyone’s rights, and subjecting the city to a law suit which ultimately would end up being footed by Bridgeport taxpayers. I am sure Chief Gaudett, acted properly by consulting with Bridgeport State Attorney John Smriga, and after having been accessed by him as to how to proceed, Chief Gaudett turned the investigation of the shooting incident to the state police.

Furthermore, Mr. Martinez YES!, “a badge does get you extra rights.” It gets a 28-year public servant like Officer Juan Santiago the respect of a community who knows him to be a dedicated, decent, respectful public servant. It gets police officer Juan Santiago the gratitude and love of an embattled community to which he has unselfishly given 28 years of his life to.

A badge gives him due process of the law just like it does for anyone else. How many years of your life have you given towards making the city of Bridgeport a better place for its residents Mr. Martinez? What else besides siding with outsiders and criticizing our public servants have you done in order to make our streets safer or to improve the quality of life for the residents in the city of Bridgeport?

Why don’t the pack of all of you who don’t live in Bridgeport, preoccupy yourselves with the business of the cities you each live in? Why don’t all of you mind your own business! Clean your own cities, before you come here to divide ours. Why don’t you spend your “valuable time” looking out for the minority profiling that goes on in Waterbury, Stratford, Naugatuck and Norwalk and let us the residents of Bridgeport decide what we need to protest about.

Better yet, since you are so enthusiastically willing to travel here, next time you visit, bring us jobs, financial assistance to start new businesses, and throw in a few affordable housing units, and most of all come with new ideas to help our failing school system, instead of wasting your time trying to knock one of ours down.

Bridgeport does not need publicity seeking wannabees to come and help us here, as if the citizens of Bridgeport were a whole bunch of morons. We have been in the trenches long enough to know the lights of people like you. Stay out of our City and our business!

There is already an investigation going on. I like to wait for the Bridgeport Police and the State police or whoever is conducting an investigation to complete their work before I go about asking for anyone’s head.

Your little display of “self-pontification” is the same crap that happens during any given election in this city. A bunch of outsiders who know nothing about the candidates or the districts they are working in, come by in droves during any given election to work against good, qualified, committed candidates, undermining the efforts of those who live in the city of Bridgeport, and do have a commitment and respect the communities they live in.

So please, do yourselves a favor, and the next time you feel compelled to engage in any activity outside your city’s, let it be a positive, uplifting one, instead of the divisive and negative one you chose this time. That will show that you have some respect for the residents of that city.



    1. My dear CaptainDavidHawley. It is obvious you have never met me, since I am anything but a hypocrite. People who have known me for years in this city know I do not speak often, but I have never been shy when it comes to voicing my opinion without hiding behind pseudonyms. I tell it like I see it and in your face. Yes sir, you missed my comments about “due process.” And, yes sir, you are right when you state that “she had no problem throwing another Latina like herself under the bus in this article when it suited her cause. Hypocrite.” Sir, I am no hypocrite, and I have no “cause,” just voicing an opinion. No, I do not have a problem “throwing one of my own under the bus” as you stated, but not for any self-serving reason, since officer Santiago is not a personal acquaintance of mine, nor I have any ties to him or any of his family members. He is just an officer who is respected in the Bridgeport community. Since you seem to be someone who is willing to be less than a gentleman when you don’t like what someone has to say in defense of one of your colleagues, I will forward your comment to as many Bridgeport police officers as I can, so they all know “you have their backs,” and furthermore Captain Hawley, “Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give a Damn” what you think about me.

      1. Then why did you reply if you don’t give a damn about what I think about you?

        I did see you comment about “due process” in your posting about Officer Martinez, that was one of your criticisms of the protesters. Where I did NOT see you speaking about due process is when you threw Ayala under the bus BEFORE her due process. Just reread the article in which you were quoted, ergo you are a hypocrite.

        Again your “cause” from the article in the CT Post was about your old house seat. When you saw the opportunity to regain past glory, you pounced and threw your fellow Latina under the bus.

        I will forward your comments to as many Latino friends as I can so they know to watch their backs around you. Since you have no problem throwing them under the bus when it suits your desire to get something you desire.

        I really hope you are not a civics teacher. When you attack people for doing the same thing you have done in the past, you are a hypocrite. Rather clear-cut in this case. Perhaps you were more of the “do as I say, not as I do” type of teacher.


        Officer arrested for shooting self in bagel shop

        Posted: Feb 11, 2014 9:10 AM PST
        Updated: Feb 11, 2014 9:29 AM PST
        By Rob Polansky

        A veteran officer in Bridgeport was arrested Tuesday after police said he accidentally shot himself in a bagel shop.

        Juan Santiago, 56, was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm for the incident at Bagel King on Dec. 17, troopers said.

        They said he was eating breakfast with three other officers when he mishandled his gun and it fired. A bullet struck him in the leg.

        No one else was hurt, investigators said.

        Santiago was notified of an arrest warrant and surrendered to state police Troop G in Bridgeport.

        He was released on a promise to appear in court. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 18, according to state police.

        Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  1. CDH, “high five” on your comment. Although Officer Santiago is someone who is hard working, and many other positive achievements … he was careless. I cannot and will not make negative comments about him … because there is a process and hopefully it will be followed. On the other hand, I stop and think … what if it were me, or the next-door guy or gal … guess what, we would have been arrested and the pertaining laws related to a discharge of a firearm would’ve have been thrown at me … how about no discharge of a firearm on New Year’s day … if apprehended you will be arrested … How about that, Ms. Edna Garcia?
    And to Mr. Martinez no need to be ashamed of yourself … Shame on Edna for trying to keep you silent.

  2. I do not know former Representative Martinez but I believe anyone, whether they live in the State’s largest City or not, has a right to point out just and correct actions for the rest of us, who may be unaware, out of the loop or tired.

    People from out of town, were we to have any retail worth mentioning, are just what is wanted in Bridgeport, right? We want them to come to the Arena, Harboryard and our colleges and expect they will come to our hospitals, human service agencies and legal facilities. And then those out-of-towners with money were warned away when it came to Charter referendum with Mayoral BOE appointment power, but the WFP and BEA/CEA had potent “non-resident” power in the most recent election. So just whom do we want to visit our fair city?

    The point that has been made is the man in question exhibited behavior that was never authorized in his training experience nor approved within the system that has employed him for 28 years. The discharge of that weapon, according to the story, was not an accident. And it was one of those situations where there is no rapid ‘do-over.’

    So the man in the uniform has received a different level of treatment than the rest of us, and the question is raised, thank goodness. More questions need to be raised … about Police OT over budget and how that is being controlled with an additional Deputy Chief … about Police and Fire OT creating a base for larger future pension benefits for those who were switched to CTMERF from Pension Plan B with benefits that can double what was previously available … about funding those large future benefits … who pays? … when? … show us the schedule!

    Silence. Secrecy. We need to fight closed governance. Keep your eye on the ETHICS issue in 2014. And don’t hold your breath for SNOW REPORT, Airport accessway disclosures and budget accountability soon. Time will tell.

  3. I had said from day one this matter needed to be fully investigated by an outside entity. This is regardless of whether he is a Latino, African American, white, male, female, whatever.
    We cannot allow a member of the Bridgeport Police Department to act in such a reckless manner. Period. And not only does this officer need to be punished but most likely whomever it was who left a loaded gun unattended on the table to begin with.
    And by punished I do not mean paid suspension. That is not punishment.

    1. I was not trying to keep anyone silenced, merely commenting on outsiders coming to Bridgeport to protest without having all their facts straight. It is also obvious you did not read the entire article or you would have seen I did say officer Santiago does have a lot of explaining to do, as this is a serious incident. If you thing you are going to use psychology on me by posting “And to Mr. Martinez no need to be ashamed of yourself … Shame on Edna for trying to keep you silent,” I never said he or anyone else who feels they have been wronged could not voice their concerns. Read the entire post before you comment. My legitimate criticism of Martinez was he joined a group of outsiders to help bring down one of Bridgeport’s finest without waiting for the outcome of the investigation that is taking place. You must be part of Martinez’ organization or a personal friend, and I understand you stepping up to defend you buddy, but be careful when addressing a lady, you would not want people in Bridgeport to think you are less than a gentlemen.
      Bob Walsh, I totally agree with you. That was all I was trying to convey.

  4. A Latina, discrediting another Latino for speaking out about a Latino cop who broke the law. What a surprise … she’s upset … so she cries racism. Then goes on to trash so-called “outsiders” who would be ARRESTED if they discharged THEIR weapons in Bagel King! Yes, Edna … this is what the residents of Bridgeport have come to expect from their “leadership,” self-serving, divisive, unethical persons like yourself.

    1. lisalake my dear, you obviously can’t read or your lack of comprehension regarding my post got the best of you. No darling, I never cried “racism” on my post, since I am not the victim of any. It was you who missed the mark totally stating “Then goes on to trash so-called “outsiders” who would be ARRESTED if they discharged THEIR weapons in Bagel King!”
      Those my darling were not my words. On my post, I was quoting what the protesters said. In case you missed it, this is one of the direct quotes I was alluding to. “Elizabeth Drysdale said, ‘There’s one set of laws applied to police and politicians, and another that’s applied to private citizens. If I had fired that gun inside a crowded restaurant, I would have been taken out in handcuffs, my gun would have been seized, my permit taken away and my children placed in protective services. That officer must have missed the class that deals with firearm safety.'” I have never been a self-serving, divisive even less an unethical person. But I don’t need to explain myself to an ignorant female such as you.
      I am a 63-year-old woman who holds her own. People in this city know me well. It is obvious you do not, or you would not have ever disrespected me so viciously just because I voiced an opinion you don’t like. In your post you said “Yes, Edna … this is what the residents of Bridgeport have come to expect from their “leadership,” … self-serving, divisive, unethical persons like yourself.”
      Have you no respect for the residents of Bridgeport? No darling, you are wrong. The residents of Bridgeport expect and deserve from their leaders the utmost respect, and the highest standards of ethical behavior. They deserve and expect people, who hold leadership positions in their communities, respect and defend this city. They look up to people who have a proven record of been able to work with individuals from all walks of life. The people of Bridgeport want leaders who are held to the highest ethical standards. I my dear, have a proven record of having met their expectations during the 40-something years I have been an outspoken activist in this city. Bridgeport residents expect nothing less of me. That is why I am a role model and a leader in my community, and you are not! It will do you a lot of good to learn a few things from me, mostly to have some manners and learn how to respectfully disagree with other people’s opinions, before throwing labels on them. Happy New Year!


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