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Police Officer Charged For Gun Incident In Bagel King, Gaudett: We Respect State Police Decision

February 11th, 2014 · 23 Comments · Cops, News and Events

Juan Santiago

Juan Santiago. CT Post photo.

Update, includes State Police statement: Bridgeport Police Officer Juan Santiago who suffered a wound to his leg from an accidental gun shot that shattered a window inside the Bagel King on Main Street in December was charged Monday by State Police with a misdemeanor for an unlawful discharge of a firearm. He’s scheduled for a court appearance Feb. 18. Police Chief Joe Gaudett asked state law enforcement officials to undertake an independent review of the incident.

From State Police Spokesman Paul Vance:

On 12/17/13 at approximately 0830 hours, the Bridgeport Police Department responded to a reported Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm incident that took place at the Bagel King located at 3550 Main St., Bridgeport, CT. The accused Santiago was reported to be sitting at the breakfast table with three other Bridgeport Police Officers, when he mishandled a firearm pistol and discharged the round through his thigh area of his left leg. No one else was reported injured and the Accused Santiago was immediately treated at the St. Vincent’s Medical Center (Bridgeport, CT) for minor injuries. On 12/23/2013, the Bridgeport States Attorney’s office assigned the Connecticut State Police, Central District Major Crime Squad to conduct an investigation regarding the incident. After an extensive investigation, it was determined that the accused (Juan Santiago) mishandled the firearm pistol, which resulted in his own leg injury. As a result to an investigation the Central District Major Crime Squad has executed an arrest warrant for Juan Santiago for the charge of Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm. The accused Santiago turned himself into the Connecticut State Police, Troop I, in Bethany, where he was arrested and processed without incident. The accused was then released on a Promise to Appear and is scheduled to appear at the Bridgeport Superior Court, 14 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport, CT on 02/18/2014.

The Santiago incident has been the subject of two demonstrations in front of Police Department headquarters by activists who claim a civilian in a similar situation would have been arrested on the spot. Santiago, a 28-year veteran, is well-liked among his police peers.

The .45 caliber semi-automatic weapon had apparently been loaned to another police officer by a physician who was returning the gun to an officer at Bagel King. The weapon had been passed to Santiago by another city police officer. The gun went off accidentally while Santiago examined the weapon. Several city police officers were in Bagel King at the time of the accident. Santiago was treated at St. Vincent’s Medical Center and released. Santiago is president of the Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society. He works in the identification division of the department that includes fingerprinting of civilians.

A few weeks ago a 23-year-old man from Black Rock was charged with an unlawful discharge of a weapon and reckless endangerment after he told police his gun went off while he was cleaning it. The bullet apparently hit a neighbor’s house. Protesters pointed to this as a double standard claiming Santiago was receiving special treatment.

Statement from Chief Gaudett:

“First, I would like to say we are grateful that the officer is recovering from his injury. We have said from the outset that we requested the State Police handle the investigation so the public would have confidence that it would be fair and unbiased. The State Police conducted a thorough investigation, consulted with the State’s Attorney’s Office and made a determination that we will respect.”

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23 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    Officer Santiago has been humiliated enough. He puts his life on the line as a police officer. If he is receiving a little special treatment for this ridiculous episode so be it. Should he be off his job as punishment and have one less cop on the beat? We should all be grateful no person was hurt other than the cop in question. This question of fairness between the officer and the individual cleaning his gun simply just raises the question of why anyone should be carrying a gun. Accidents will always happen and we are not living in the wild wild west where we all had to protect our properties. I am not making light of what happened at Bagel King that day, especially since I personally waited over two hours to get my bagel. I do feel enough attention and manpower has been invested in this episode. Let’s move on, slap the guy on the wrist. Make him speak at a local high school about how accidents can happen and let’s move on.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Steve, what the hell are you talking about? One set of laws for everyone. Just because this guy is a police officer does not give him a free pass. After 28 years as a cop you would think he would know how to handle a gun.

    • Mustang Sally

      “LIKE,” Andrew Fardy. Officer Santiago’s incident also involved a public place, with bystanders who could have been injured, AND someone WAS injured; him.

      In the Black Rock incident NO ONE (not even the young man cleaning the gun) was injured. He was cleaning the gun, not “checking out” someone’s piece in a public setting, and it was a private residence.

      Time to call IA.

      • Local Eyes

        Mustang Sally and Lisa Parziale: I owe you an apology for my rude comments made in a recent post. This statement is off-topic and overdue.
        I was wrong, I’m sorry and I apologize. I have no excuse and no reason for my bad behavior. The fault is 100% mine. Repeat: I apologize for my recent posts made on this blog.

  • Jimfox

    Steve, Officer Santiago’s only danger is when he uses hot water to remove the ink from his fingers. He works in the identification division of the department that includes fingerprinting of civilians.
    Some cops shouldn’t have a gun!
    Steve, you keep making stuff up!

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Jim Fox, you live in Black Rock. In your opinion, do you or anyone there feel safe knowing there maybe a pot-smoking gun owner next door and nothing can be done about it? As you talk to the people in the following weeks, can you ask them and try getting their contact info? You know where I’m going with this.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        Joel, I would not feel safe with a neighbor like that; “BUT” I certainly don’t feel safe when someone I pay to protect me and my family does “NOT” know how to handle a gun properly.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Jim Fox, Andy Fardy, Mustang Sally, if in fact MR. SANTIAGO’S JOB IS IN A CIVILIAN DEPARTMENT TAKING FINGERPRINTS, THEN HE SHOULD BE PUNISHED TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW. I was under the impression he put himself in harm’s way daily for the residents of this city. IF NOT … FUCK HIM … LOL. :-)

      • Mustang Sally

        Then he should know how to act appropriately if he is getting paid to set an example, right? He cannot claim ignorance here. It is line number one through ten in the police officer job description not to act like a moron with regard to the proper use of firearms.

        FAIL. Complete FAIL.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    The next thing the protesters will argue is the State Police were too lenient in charging Santiago with a “misdemeanor.” When the case was turned over to the State police, I concluded they would eventually charge Santiago with something based on two points. First, I’ve heard from several sources there was one State Trooper fired due to some sort of a discharge of a firearm. Second, the fact this incident occurred in a store where many customers go and there is a public road and sidewalk nearby. However, the majority of incidents of accidental discharges occur in similar locations and charges are not always filed, not reported nor investigated in the same way this case is being treated.
    This incident should raises more questions and concerns other than those of the protester and I believe it must be that way. The protester concerns and statements made by them are baseless. There was one incident of a 23-year-old who accidentally shot his friend in the leg while target practicing and he was not charged.
    Expect Santiago’s attorney to question other alleged accidental discharges involving police officers and explore the way they were handled.
    Then there is the other 23-year-old who was recently charged in Black Rock. This case raises an important issue the protesters prefer to ignore–there was a strong odor of marijuana in the house. The police are not empowered or required to take a drug test from the accused. I don’t believe the State Firearms Commission is allowed to make such request or demand from the accused in order to get to the bottom of this. I don’t think the people in Black Rock or anyone else would feel comfortable having a pot-smoking neighbor handling a gun. Do State Representatives and State Senators read the paper? Are they waiting for someone to die to take steps necessary to prevent a future tragedy? We need a law that would allow the authorities to get the facts necessary to prevent suspected or alleged illegal drug users who have gun permits from getting away in circumstances such as in the Black Rock case. Paging Auden Grogins.

    • Donnyboy

      Are you out of your mind? The police smelled marijuana, searched and found none. NONE!!! Don’t you DARE try to make this a 2nd amendment issue. One man accidentally shot a wall and no one was hurt. Santiago in Bagel King shot himself!!! You’re blind if you don’t see the glaring differences, private property vs a public restaurant for God’s sake! Don’t even get me started.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        No, you are not thinking let alone looking at the other side of the coin. Let’s say you’re walking down a nice street in Black Rock. You notice a diverse (Black, Hispanic and White) group of young men walking towards you and make nothing of it. As soon as the group and you are a foot apart, one of the kids (you pick him) in the group pulls out a gun and orders you to ‘give it all up’. You quickly release a load of shit in your pants and urine rolls down your legs. All three of them take your wallet, jewelry, cell phone and other property. They go away without offering you toilet paper or hurting you. You got a good look at all three suspects. You start screaming ‘HELP’ and knocking on doors for help. David Walker is home and calls the police for you and they get there minutes later. The police detain a Hispanic and black male three blocks away. You are absolutely sure they were the men with the other white guy who robbed you and made you shit your pants. Police don’t find a gun or any of your property and no white guy, but you’re 100% sure they are two of the men who robbed you. Should the Police let them go since none of the property taken nor the gun was found? Is that fair, considering you are 100% sure they were two of the guys? You can go clean yourself while you’re thinking about this.

  • Bob Walsh

    I said from Day 1 this guy needs to be suspended at least 90 days WITHOUT pay. Either the city makes a statement this is considered a serious offense or it doesn’t.
    Someone could have been killed due to the reckless actions of a police officer who definitely should have known better. Let’s see what Guadett and the Police Commission come up with.

  • Mojo

    *** Bottom line, it was an accident! However the officer should be held on the same charges as the Black Rock resident, no more, no less. 1. Unlawful discharge of a firearm and 2. Risk of Injury. If their lawyers can get the charges reduced further then more power to them and that’s why you hire a lawyer, no? *** AFTER ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE MAY DO, WHY IS IT ONLY THE BAD IS REMEMBERED? ***

    • CaptainDavidHawley

      Kenneth Sullivan, 23, of Midland Street, was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in the third degree. He was released after posting $1,500 bond.

      No bond for the officer, just a promise to appear–again not the same.

      Seems like lesser charges for the officer where the gun went off in a public area with many people around and shattered a window.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        Every officer gets random drug testing. Captain, what are the chances of the officer not showing up for his court appearance? His bond was less than $150. Can anyone here prove Mr. Sullivan paid $1,500 cash bond? The bond is based on the charges and the number of offenses charged with. If I were Mr. Sullivan and wanted to prove I was not smoking marijuana, I’d voluntarily give up some hair samples to prove my innocence and if they’re clean file a federal civil lawsuit and get paid well for the inconvenience. Why hasn’t he done that from WEEK ONE? That’s the flip side of the coin, Captain.

        • Bond Girl

          Did I miss something? (I may have.) Wasn’t this guy at home?

        • Andrew C Fardy

          Drug tests can be tampered with every day. It’s how the test is administered that counts. You can drink a certain product and you will pass, you can bring someone else’s urine to the test if it’s not monitored. These are just a few of the ways a poorly monitored drug test is passed. So to say the cops are drug-tested means little.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Listen, we all know what’s going on here, the cops protect their own, whether it’s State cops investigating or local doing the investigating. This result is simply a way to “quiet the people,” Officer Santiago will get the charges dropped and he will be “suspended” for a few weeks, let’s save the taxpayer’s money and cut to the chase.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Joel, this is bullshit. There is a positive ID in your

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Joel, it’s not up to this person to prove he is innocent in our country. It’s up to the authorities to prove he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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