When long-awaited news hit Grand Avenue Tuesday morning—that the feds arrested four East Haven cops accused of harassing and brutalizing Latinos and lying about it—it was met with two reactions: It’s about time. And it’s not just in one suburban town.
“It happens in West Haven. It happens in North Haven. It’s a bigger problem. It’s in the U.S.,” said one of five customers already filling chairs at El Jibaro on Grand near Poplar along New Haven’s main Latino commercial strip.
Click here to read the indictment against the four East Haven cops, released Tuesday. (Click here for a background story.)
“It’s good news for me,” said Luis M. Carrasquillo (pictured), the only one of six barbers not attending to a customer shortly after 10 a.m. Then he told his own story of an encounter with the cops—not in East Haven, but here in New Haven. About a month ago five officers grabbed him as he left a bar on Grand Avenue around 11 p.m. “They handcuffed me and put me int he back and pushed me around a bit. They said they were looking for someone who matched me.” Twenty minutes later he was released and shaken by how he was handled, he said. (State records show he ‘d been arrested once, and convicted, on a risk of injury charge back in 2007.)
Over at A’s Barber Shop at Grand near Clinton, haircutter Josh Nunez was sweeping a back room in preparation for the arrival of customers.
“I know people in East Haven. It’s good,” he said of Tuesday’s arrests. “It’s very good.” Nunez said he lives in East Haven. He said he knows five Latinos who were stopped because of their race, he said, and given tickets or were arrested. “That’s discrimination.”
The federal Justice Department agreed that the department has engaged a pattern of such discrimination for years, targeting Latino drivers, stopping them on pretexts, roughing them up, ticketing them disproportionately, and lying in police reports and generally covering up violent actions by the force.
Federal agents arrested the four members of the East Haven police department earlier Tuesday morning.
A grand jury indictment dated Jan. 18 states that the four officers conspired to “injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate various members of the East Haven community.” The indictment names a sergeant, John Miller, and three officers, David Cari, Dennis Spaulding, and Jason Zullo. The three often worked the 4 p.m. to midnight shift under the supervision of Sgt. Miller. They and others were known as “Miller’s Boys,” according to the indictment.
Together, the four men performed illegal searches and seizures and used “unreasonable force” with impunity, the indictment charges. As part of the conspiracy, they filed false reports and harassed and intimidated not only victims but fellow officers, the indictment states.
The indictment states that Miller used his position as a police union leader to further the conspiracy. All four officers assaulted people while they were handcuffed, according to the indictment.
The indictment outlines numerous incidences of physical abuse of arrestees, illegal searches, false arrests, threats, intimidation and efforts to conceal the abuses. On Nov. 22, 2008, for example, Spaulding threw a Latino man to the ground outside a Latino-owned East Haven restaurant, cutting his chin deeply, then repeatedly kicked the man, who was in handcuffs.
The indictment also refers to three “unindicted co-conspirators” in the ongoing investigation.” An East Haven official, in this Hartford Courant story, identified one of those officials as Chief Leonard Gallo.
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posted by: Nothing New on January 24, 2012 2:56pm
This is nothing new! Profiling and discrimination has been going on for decades and centuries pertaining to minorities, which does not make it right. This is nothing more than an act of scapegoating by the legal system which simply boils down to a makeup call which was botched years ago in the prosecution and settlement pertaining to the unfortunate circumstances that lead to the tragic incident where Officer Flodquist, an East Haven Police Officer, and Malik Jones, an African-American, was concerned.
This is obviously a make up call to prosecute officers who may have stepped outside of normal policing procedures, but the bigger issue is because Hispanic individuals made complaints it gave state and federal authorities the opportunity to pounce.
My other concern is that this is really a precedence and should serve as a lesson on unity and cohesiveness to African-Americans on how to make democracy work instead of the divide and conquer mentality which is the reason why African-Americans issues involving civil rights have been ignored!
posted by: james gordon on January 24, 2012 3:35pm
Things will never change until those within the Police decide that the law is the law ,and no one is above it .When THEY know officers are breaking the law . ALL of them have broken the law .Be heroic .Stand up for what is right . Stop protecting these criminals .
posted by: robn on January 24, 2012 3:39pm
My personal favorite EHPD quote from the indictment; “...[they] drifted to this country on rafts made of chicken wings…”
Is Archie Moore’s an independent nation? Are people rafting on the Q with rafts made of chicken wings? Do I love chicken wings? Yes I do.
posted by: noteworthy on January 24, 2012 3:56pm
Corruption. The worst kind. Indict the rest of them. .... Mayor Mature should fire Gallo and get serious about managing this police force for all residents. Anything less embraces and enables this blatantly illegal activity.
posted by: Vanessa Poholek Fasanella on January 24, 2012 4:43pm
I don’t know how much power Mayor Maturo has over this situation, but now is the time for him to show this community what he’s made of, what he thinks of all of us Hispanics, and how he’s going to handle those who break the law. As the granddaughter of a man in blue, I was taught that if you behaved, you’d never have to live in fear of the law. That’s not true here. Let’s make it true now.
I feel for those that were mistreated in any way. In no way do I want to live in a town where police act in this way towards anyone. I also want everyone to hold judgement of these officers until the judicial system finalizes this.
posted by: nhteaparty on January 24, 2012 6:08pm
Not even trying to excuse the EH police dept; I know I’ve had my share of bad interactions and I’m white. I’m glad they nailed them, but:
10% of NH residents are illegal (NHI).
15% of NH residents are hispanic (2010 census).
75% of illegals in the US are hispanic (Pew Hispanic Center).
Assuming the PHC porportions hold true for NH: A * B * C = 1 out of 2 hispanic residents of NH are likely illegal.
Illegals make easy targets. Bad cops look for easy targets, so they target hispanic individuals.
As long as the current state of illegal immigration in this country persists, problems like this will continue to exist.
I live and work in NH, but live very close to the EH border, so I do most of my errands and shopping there. It’s just easier. It does feel like a different world, though, and very not diverse at all, and I can totally see how this kind of thing was allowed to happen there. I, too, feel much better that this has been dealt with, finally. Some people need to get used to their neighbors, and learn how to all get along.
posted by: TC on January 25, 2012 6:45am
I wonder with all the crusading how Fr. Manship will be able to attend to his priestly duties. Would he have responding so quickly to a call to administer last rites? Maybe when I am in danger, I should call him and cops can pray for me. This is all a smokescreen to divert the public’s attention from the war against all people by the powers in our government. Keep us at each other’s throats… that’s how you conquer!!
posted by: bill dole on January 25, 2012 8:45am
Try being a miority and driving in North Haven. If you have a headlight or tail light or marker plate light out you will be stopped. If you have temporary plates or damage to your vehicl, you will be stopped. EHPD are not the only ones, they just got caught.
posted by: Goatville mom on January 25, 2012 11:28am
@TC, obviously, you don’t know Fr. Manship at all, taking care of his parishioners, protecting them, IS PART of his priestly duties. @PDSupporter, so you really think an investigation by the US Dept of Justice and arrests by the FBI are “political correctness”? Really? And for someone so concerned with things “illegal” you should be concerned about illegal behavior by the very people charged with upholding the law.
posted by: ozzie on January 25, 2012 12:17pm
Have to comment on this, although hitting handcuffed people is not acceptable most of the complaint seems to be that these latinos, where being stopped for Motor Vehicle violations. I know first hand that the U.S Postal Service was conducting an investigation in 2007 regarding Pennsylvania , Massachusetts and Tennessee license plates, where numerous plates were being registered to one or two addresses in these States. The Plates and Registrations were then being sold to the People in the latino community who could not legally register a car . This information was given to the New Haven Police Department and passed on to the Patrol Division with the addresses and names of the people who had all the vehicles registered in their names. I’m sure if the Postal Service made New Haven aware of this they made other towns aware of this to .
I Don’t remember the Postal Inspectors name who was conducting the investigation and don’t know the outcome of it. Maybe the Fed’s got wind of it and wanted stopped or the Postal service was pressured by the Destefano administration to end the investigation . Maybe the NHI or the Police Officers Attorney’s could look into this. I do remember a comment by one East Haven Officer saying people don’t realize a lot of things were going on with illegal plates. So lets not rush to judgement