UPDATE: This video, posted on YouTube three weeks ago, captures Bridgeport police officers repeatedly kicking a suspect in Beardsley Park in 2011 after he was felled by a stun gun. After Police Chief Joe Gaudett reviewed the video, veteran officers Elson Morales, Joseph Lawlor and Clive Higgins were placed on paid administrative duty, outside of patrol. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has been in contact with local police authorities about the incident. Federal law enforcement officials will often review these kinds of incidents for possible civil rights violations. Too soon to know if the feds believe this video reaches that threshold. OIB would welcome a comment from the officers involved and/or Bridgeport Police Union.
“I’m concerned by what I saw and ordered the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct an immediate, thorough and timely investigation,” said Chief Gaudett in a statement issued to OIB. “If violations are found, we will take action. Our officers are held to high standards and rightfully so, and we intend to maintain these standards.”
Gaudett has not released the suspect’s name, but News 12 Connecticut was on the scene in Beardsley Park that day in May of 2011, according to a posting on its website. “At the time, police announced they had Tasered and arrested 25-year-old Orlando Soto for being in possession of a stolen gun and drugs,” News 12 reports.
Gaudett, however, has not stated if, in fact, a weapon was found on the suspect or discovered in a search.
“No person should be treated as an animal, no matter what they are charged with,” said Carolyn Vermont, president of the Greater Bridgeport branch of the NAACP. “The NAACP is outraged by the police brutality shown on the video. This type of police misconduct is totally unacceptable. The NAACP plans to hold a press conference on Monday at 4 p.m. in front of BPD Headquarters to further address this incident.”
As this story has gone viral, police officials have been swamped with media inquiries.
Gaudett, according the news release issued by the city, learned about the video last week and promptly ordered the OIA probe. He also contacted the Bridgeport Office of the State’s Attorney. Once the officers in the video were correctly identified, Gaudett placed them on administrative status.
Bridgeport Police have identified the man who was arrested in the video. He has not, to date, filed an excessive force complaint.
Read more here.