Cops Who Stomped Man In Beardsley Park Plead Guilty To Charges, Resign From Police Department

UPDATE: Sounds like it was in the city’s best financial interests to move quickly to pay Orlando Lopez-Soto $198,000 to settle a lawsuit following his police stomping in Beardsley Park in 2011. Two city police officers Joseph Lawlor and Elson Morales entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to civil rights violations in federal court.

The video shows three officers Lawlor, Morales and officer Clive Higgins stomping the tasered Lopez-Soto.

In announcing a settlement about the lawsuit, police spokesman Bill Kaempffer said two weeks ago “Considering costs associated with proceeding to trial, a resolution was reached that is fair and reasonable for all parties in this case.”

Statement from Police Chief Joe Gaudett:

“The Bridgeport Police Department cooperated with the federal authorities since the date this video surfaced. As chief, I am satisfied with the outcome of the criminal prosecution and with the fact that these individuals will no longer serve as Bridgeport police officers. Their actions are not reflective of the good work done day-in and day-out by the overwhelming majority of the men and women of the Bridgeport Police Department. The Bridgeport Police Department will continue to cooperate fully with the federal authorities until they conclude their investigation.”

News release from Connecticut U.S. Attorney:

Deirdre M, Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that Bridgeport Police officers ELSON MORALES, 42, and JOSEPH LAWLOR, 41, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer in Bridgeport to violating an individual’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during the course of an arrest.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on May 20, 2011, officers MORALES and LAWLOR engaged in a pursuit of a van driven by an individual who was suspected of having a firearm and had failed to submit to a traffic stop. After the pursuit, the individual was apprehended in Beardsley Park in Bridgeport. MORALES used his department-issued Taser to incapacitate the individual during the course of his apprehension. Despite the fact the individual was effectively incapacitated by the initial use of the Taser, MORALES deployed the Taser a second time and LAWLOR kicked the individual several times.

“The use of unreasonable force during an arrest is not only a clear violation of an individual’s civil rights, but also gravely undermines the community’s trust in law enforcement,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly.  “he overwhelming majority of officers in the Bridgeport Police Department are public servants who dedicate their lives to protecting the public. However, any law enforcement officer who crosses the line during an arrest risks federal prosecution.”

U.S. Attorney Daly stated that the investigation is ongoing.

“Today’s guilty pleas are such an important reminder to those of us who are sworn to uphold the law, that we are not above the law,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “Law enforcement officers of this state, and beyond, should rightfully be held to a high standard.  Morales and Lawlor’s actions three years ago profoundly undermined that standard and the public’s faith in law enforcement to protect and to serve. It is an absolute honor and privilege to serve a community and the good men and women of the Bridgeport Police Department know that, where so many have served with both pride and distinction.”

MORALES and LAWLOR each pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of one year and a fine of up to $100,000.

Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for September 2, 2014.

As part of their plea agreements, MORALES and LAWLOR have agreed to resign from the Bridgeport Police Department and not seek employment as a police or peace office during any period of supervision.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anastasia E. King and David E. Novick.



  1. It is difficult to see the video once again of the public safety officers who have “sworn to uphold the law” take such an attitude to the victim they engage in an abuse of power through their physical actions against the person.

    Cost to the City of money for the settlement. Cost to the City for loss of reputation for behavior beyond the bounds of training or policy. Cost of loss of trained officers who were not forced into the behavior but made some “bad choices” as we tell youth today.

    Is it a stretch for me to draw a parallel with some City Council members who are sworn “to uphold the State Constitution” but fail to perform in a manner they would if their behavior were on camera? For instance if it turns out State Law prohibits the giving of City funds to charities close to an election as 15 Council persons did last year and thought it could be hidden, because they know about the issuing of City monthly financial reports and thought their behavior would not show? And if City Council people know the rules around “conflicts of interest” at the State level, as well as regards Federal funds, would they continue to ignore the 800-pound gorilla that is the City Council with its members’ numerous conflicts? And finally the City of Bridgeport has almost more residential taxpayers than the cities of New Haven and Hartford combined, but isn’t the act of revaluing all properties last year, paying 80% of the funds for the project, taking a look at enough numbers to be sick about the results (and what homeowners would do when they saw new results with a new and higher mil rate attached to the 2015 budget tax bills)? How do we make a case for one or more of the power abuses handed to us with the complicity of the Council? Any ideas?
    In many communities the legislative body, or its leader, is able to stand up to the power of an incumbent administration, especially if there is reason to do so. Or a Finance Board is there to do the heavy lifting, but we do not have such a body of taxpayer-minded, financially savvy elected representatives! Candidates for future municipal executives come from each source. That is how John Fabrizi came to sit in the Mayor’s seat initially.

    Can you imagine Tom McCarthy as successor to Mayor Bill Finch if it became necessary? Who would see this as an improvement? And if that were to happen, then according to our current rules, would Denese Taylor-Moye become Council President? Or would there be a new election? Independence, skill sets, representation of all the people and a commitment to OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT??? If you need a Case Study to help you answer the question refer to the SIKORSKY AIRPORT ACCESS ROAD packet. Time will tell.

  2. John please, you need an editor. I can disagree with your thinking you are smarter than most, but you are a frog in the pond. Ergo, ego translate those two words into American English, do yourself a favor, make it a hop, skip and a plop. I still respect your views, you sound like a divorced wife, relate to that.

    1. If you have anything, anything at all to say about the subject at hand, say it, in as many words as you need. Everything else you have spouted is stuttering. I write every day, some lengthy, some short. If I need an editor, perhaps you need to get out and get an idea. The news is not about me but behavior and costs that are not good for the city. You said nothing, try again. By the way, what do you want to tell us about a divorced wife? Time will tell.

    1. OATs is an acronym I have used for several years to frame my campaign to reform institutional governance in Bridgeport. O stands for OPEN … meetings so the public has a right to speak and receive response, hearings, eliminate tough road to get FOI info even when you follow the process, and put the financial reports in a simpler form (edit 80 pages to 20 comprehensible pages, that is GREEN behavior) and put it on line just as some City Council members receive it. A stands for ACCOUNTABLE … and my reporting on fiscal activity indicates there is no one accountable to the taxpayer at this time. If there is such a person, would they care to raise their hand and engage with the public? T stands for TRANSPARENT so the average taxpaying, voting citizen can understand how the City works rather than feel it is all a mystery that provides them a reason to tune out. To a larger extent than people realize, there is very little training and even less evaluation ongoing among those getting a City paycheck. Lots of reasons I suppose, but no one doing anything about it, and it costs.

      So, OATs and the airport issue. Look it up, in the minutes, in the newspaper, in comments from the City Council … do you have a clear idea what happened such that the City of Bridgeport is saddled with more than a half million of additional expenses for planning, building, legal and more legal … and lost an airport administrator though it is not clear what he did since he recused himself … and the Mayor and the City Council President are members of the Airport governing body … and more than $40 Million still stands to be spent out there? Time will tell.

  3. This just in … Eric Cantor lost primary to David Brat … huge loss. Brat had no money. Cantor was the second most powerful man in the Republican congress. It proves money and name recognition does not win an election. I guess no immigration reform. Which brings us to Bridgeport … could be very exciting.



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