Father Jim’s Camera Brings Justice, Again

James Manship PhotoThe last time Father James Manship whipped out his camera to capture wrongdoing, his video helped lead to a federal probe of mendacious East Haven cops who harassed immigrants.

Sunday Manship pulled out his camera again—and helped cops catch an allegedly out-of-control dirt-biker who harasses Fair Haveners.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoManship (pictured at right), the priest at St. Rose of Lima Church, was on his way back from picking up a burrito from a new eatery at Ferry and Lombard (“Good food; I highly recommend it”) when he had to stop his car at the corner of Poplar and Saltonstall at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. A dirt-biker was in the intersection “popping wheelies, spinning around,” Manship said.

Manship knew that dirt-bikers have been giving fits to neighbors and cops all over town with reckless driving.

He also remembered some personal advice from Sgt. Anthony Zona, until recently the head cop in Fair Haven, about how to deal with young people causing trouble: “If you get a picture, send it to us, so school resource officers can identify them.”

So Manship, who was wearing his clerical collar, took out his cellphone.

“Just as I was taking his picture [with the cellphone], he looked right at me,” Manship said. “That’s how I got his picture. He charged the car with the bike. I thought he was going to hit me. Instead, he came up—and spit right on me.”

“Did he just do what I think he just did?” Manship thought to himself. Meanwhile, the dirt-biker fled.

Manship forwarded the photos to Zona’s replacement as top Fair Haven cop, Sgt. Herb Johnson, who in turn distributed the photos to his beat cops. They recognized the 20-year-old man in the photos. They got an arrest warrant signed then tracked the man down at Criscuolo Park, where they arrested him. They charged him with threatening, breach of peace, reckless driving, and driving without a license. They also charged him similar offenses in connection with a separate April 7 incident. The man, who is on probation for burglary, posted a $30,000 bond and was released.

“I showed the picture to a couple of our folks [at the church]. They recognized the guy,” Manship said later. “These guys really are out of control. They can hurt other people. It depends on residents of the neighborhood to help the cops identify who these people are,” Manship said.

Back in 2009, Father Manship video-recorded an East Haven cop asking him why he was pointing a “camera” at him. The cop arrested Manship and confiscated the camera—claiming he thought Manship had pointed a “shiny object” at him. Manship was investigating wide-scale police harassment of Latino immigrants in East Haven; that incident sparked years of investigation and arrests and a shake-up of the department.

Scooter Rider Busted: Meanwhile, at Columbus and Washington avenues in the Hill Saturday afternoon police arrested a scooter rider who ended up having eight-balls of crack on him as well as a loaded .45 caliber pistol (loaded and cocked) with identifying marks scratched out. The scooter, too, was unregistered. He’d been driving recklessly, police said.

Man Allegedly Beats Girlfriend, Shoots Her Uncle: A 52-year-old man is in “critical bust stable” condition Monday after suffering a heart attack following a confrontation with a man who allegedly beat his niece.

The uncle went to Peck Street some time after midnight Monday morning after the niece reported that her 31-year-old boyfriend had assaulted her. The uncle confronted the man, who shot him in the groin and then fled in a grey Ford Escort wagon, according to police.

Police went looking for the boyfriend. Officer Gene Trotman spotted the car at Church and Chapel and stopped the car; the boyfriend was a passenger. Police arrested him and said they found him with a .9mm Springfield Armory XD pistol. The boyfriend, a convicted felon, was wanted for a parole violation and was being sought by the State Parole Division Fugitive Unit,” according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman.

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posted by: Carl Goldfield on April 29, 2013  5:13pm

Kudos to Father Jim. The dirt bikers and quad riders were out of control Sunday in my neighborhood; up and down the Boulevard all afternoon in large packs. They produce obnoxious noise and fumes and are dangerous. They define lawlessness. It is clear that the police cannot solve this problem alone. Community Policing is a two way street.  The solution is to enforce a community standard and that can be done in conjunction with the police. The community needs to stand up and take Father Manship’s kind of action. These kids (and not so kids) are intimidating-it takes courage to stand up to them. Father Manship admirably displayed it and its up to the rest of us to emulate him.

posted by: robn on April 29, 2013  7:48pm

Good. Even through theres little chance a guy like that will ever behave like an adult, its good to see adults who are acting like children accountable to the law like adults.

posted by: FrontStreet on April 29, 2013  8:56pm

Which just begs the question: if a priest is able to gather enough evidence on his cell phone to bring charges, why can’t NHPD beat police do the same?  Yes, hopefully, thanks to efforts of community activists, Elicker, and Looney, we will have legislation from Hartford enabling the police department to charge $2000 for retrieval of dirtbikes after confiscation.  But that law won’t be in effect until the summer of 2014.  In the mean time, the dirtbikers have begun to terrorize our neighborhoods again. Does Esserman care about this issue?  I’ve never heard or read peep from him about the dirtbike problem.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on April 29, 2013  9:24pm

Last Sunday I was driving on Gran Avenue and Ferry around 2:00pm and I saw two guys with their dirt bikes wearing mountain black masks. It was a lot of traffic since Sunday’s afternoon that corner is full of families buying their groceries.

posted by: HhE on April 29, 2013  9:47pm

If we only had a dirt bike park, none of this would ever happen. 

(There is this bridge in Brooklyn, I hear it is for sale.)

posted by: Fairhavener on April 29, 2013  10:59pm

Where’s Chief Esserman’s voice on all of this—not a peep so far as far as how and when the NHPD plans to deal with this in a systemic way. This is as glaring a broken window as I’ve witnessed in New Haven. Moreover, Mr. Stone has had his video on how to brazenly break the law on the Internet for months, why wasn’t this enough to catch him before? See “New Haven Bikelife Layron” on Youtube.

Lastly, the scooter rider incident is most worrying. We have unlicensed, unregistered dirt bike/atv/scooter riders that already ride with impunity that in addition feel they can also carry loaded unregistered weapons?

posted by: TheMadcap on April 30, 2013  12:14am

If you can afford a to put up the $3,000 for a $30k bond, why in god’s name you were burglarizing places beforehand?

posted by: Curious on April 30, 2013  10:09am

Are roadblocks in neighborhoods where you know this is going to happen not an option?

posted by: Curious on April 30, 2013  10:13am

Harlem, Baltimore, and Philly all have dirt bike/ATV problems, and they have developed tip lines and email reporting to help shut it down.





The community is even using Facebook.  Too bad the PD didn’t get that social media/communications post they were looking to add.

posted by: Curious on May 1, 2013  10:09am

Another idea…

We have cameras on the poles at a LOT of intersections in town.

Can’t the police follow these bikers and note the time and place they all pass by a camera, then preserve that footage and analyze it to see how these people are?

Heck, SeeClickFix might even be able to help.  If people snap a pic and mark the time that the bikers drove by, then police could get that information and review the footage from that intersection at that time.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on May 1, 2013  10:34am

Video cameras, photos and writing the dirt bike plate soon are not going to work to help bring these people to face consequences.

Now they are wearing black masks during the day too!

The policy should be working, with the city legal department to start an strategy NOW. The community in general are more terrorized of their actions than bother for the noise. It has to be laws to attract to these individuals from other legal angle.

If not we are going to have a “hell summer”.