After police raided a college party at a downtown club, Seth Bannon and Steven Winter spotted their friend in handcuffs outside on the curb. Bannon pulled out his phone to call an acquaintance in City Hall. Winter tried to ask a cop a question. Suddenly, they found themselves arrested, too—for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Making cell phone calls out in public in the vicinity of police, it appears, might be a crime in New Haven, too.
At least that’s the story Bannon and Winter shared on Monday. They said they were wrongly arrested without cause on Oct. 2, in the aftermath of a police action at the Elevate Lounge on Crown Street.
An arrest report released to the Independent offers a different story. Officer Yelena Borisova wrote that Bannon and Winter refused to obey multiple orders to move away and were obstructing the flow of pedestrian and car traffic.
The details of their arrests and of a fifth student—previously unreported—add a new dimension to the unfolding tale of a downtown raid that has turned into an explosive and closely watched case of alleged police overreaction and abuse of civil liberties in the tinderbox of the Crown Street club district.
Bannon, a Harvard senior, is taking time off from school to start a software business with Winter and another Yalie. Winter is a senior philosophy major at Yale who coincidentally worked for Ned Lamont’s gubernatorial campaign as a “tracker,” charged with videotaping the every move of Dan Malloy, the opposing candidate. (Click the play arrow to see the camera turned on him in a file video.)
Bannon’s and Winter’s tale is the latest narrative to emerge from a controversial Oct. 2 police action at the Elevate Lounge, where two Yale colleges were holding a dance. The incident resulted in five arrests, followed by an outpouring of complaints about alleged verbal and physical abuse on the part of New Haven cops.
During the raid, police forbade students from using their cellphones, and beat and Tased one student—Bulldogs tight end Jordan Jefferson—who allegedly disobeyed that command. Video from the incident shows police shouting “Who’s next?” and “Anybody else?” after subduing someone, possibly Jefferson.
Police said the inspection was a routine part of “Operation Nightlife,” the crackdown on clubs in the city’s bar district that was prompted by a downtown shootout in September. According to police, Elevate was dangerously overcrowded and police—including two SWAT cops and state liquor control agents—went into the club to check IDs and count occupants.
Three Yale students were arrested inside Elevate: Jefferson, Zach Fuhrer, and a Spanish Yale student. (Read about Jefferson’s and Fuhrer’s arrests here. Read about the other arrest below.) Bannon and Winter were arrested outside.
Aside from their association with Operation Nightlife, a common thread running through several of these incidents is the involvement of cell phones or cell phone cameras. It’s an important element in the arrests of Bannon and Winter as well.
It was a cell phone text message that brought the two to the corner of College and Crown Streets early in the morning of Oct. 2. And it was a cellphone, they said, that resulted in Bannon’s arrest, followed closely by Winter’s.
Their arrests have prompted the two to join activists seeking change in the police department. They’ve started a group called Citizens For Policing Reform. They and some New Haven social justice activists to plan a Saturday march. They said they have four requests: Police should accept civilian complaint forms by mail or email, not just in person. The city should start a pilot program of cameras mounted on cops. Police should use Tasers that record video and audio every time the weapons are deployed. And the Civilian Review Board should be reformed so that it has actual power.
“Get Out Of Here”
Here’s what led to their arrests, according to Bannon and Winter:
Around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, the two were at a dinner party a few blocks from Elevate. They got a text message from a mutual friend saying that their buddy Fuhrer had been arrested at the club. Bannon and Winter left the party and headed down to investigate.
They found Fuhrer and Jefferson sitting in handcuffs on the curb outside Elevate surrounded by about 10 cops. Jefferson looked terrible. He had fresh blood on his face and looked like he’d just been beaten, Bannon said.
“The whole right side of his face was a throbbing red contusion,” Winter said. “It was really shocking, especially because Zach was just Zach, he was totally fine.”
Jefferson couldn’t seem to hold himself up and was slumped over on Fuhrer.
Bannon and Winter stayed about 25 or 30 feet away from the cops, farther away than the closest officer. Police had closed off the street to traffic. There were only a few people around.
Bannon, who grew up in Guilford, pulled out his phone and called an attorney friend of his family to get some advice. The lawyer advised him to keep his distance and said Bannon might have an opportunity to inquire where Fuhrer was going to be taken and how to help with his bail.
A cop approached Bannon, asked what he was doing. Bannon said Fuhrer was his friend. The cop replied, “He’s going to jail. Do you want to ‘expletive’ join him?” according to Bannon, who declined to say the expletive.
Bannon said no.
“That get the ‘expletive’ out of here,” the cop said, according to Bannon.
Bannon started walking away and pulled out his phone. He started calling someone he knows in City Hall. He declined to say whom.
The cop asked Bannon whom he was calling. Bannon told him the name.
The cop said “Yeah?” and grabbed his phone, according to Bannon. Another officer put Bannon in handcuffs.
“I was just like, ‘Whoa, what just happened?’ Floored,” Winter said. He turned to another officer and said, “Excuse me, why is he being arrested?”
“You better get out of here,” the cop replied, according to Winter.
Winter started backing up, raising his hands to show he wasn’t a threat. “OK, sure,” he said. “Can you explain to me why he’s being arrested?”
Another cop, behind Winter, grabbed his hands and put him in handcuffs.
“That was it,” Winter said. “I got arrested for asking a question.”
Winter and Bannon were seated on a curb and held for 45 minutes before they signed a promise to appear in court and were released. Police charged them with disorderly conduct and trespassing in the third degree.
Brannon said when he tried to read all the conditions of his promise to appear before signing it, an officer grabbed his arm and said, “That’s it, you’re going to jail.” He was forced to reach back as he was pulled away and swipe a signature across the page in order to avoid arrest.
Winter and Bannon both said they were wrongly arrested. They were compliant and non-threatening with police during the whole incident, they said.
“I was putting them in no danger. All I did was ask a question,” Winter said.
“When the officer ordered me to leave, I immediately began to do so,” Bannon said. “I broke no law that night.”
Cops: They Refused To Move
A police report offers a different account. Read it here.
Here’s what happened, according to a report prepared by Office Borisova:
The report is dated Oct. 2, 2010 It begins, “On September 2, 2010 at approximately 0234 hours…”
Borisova wrote that she and Officer Rob Strickland were working the “bar detail” under the supervision of Sgt. David Guliuzza, clearing the Crown Street area as the clubs closed. They were “trying to keep pedestrian flow moving when two individuals, later identified as Seth Bannon and Steve Winter, stopped in the middle of the street,” Borisova wrote. “We repeatedly asked them to move but they refused. Both individuals were standing at the exit of Crown Street garage impeding the flow of pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic.”
That’s the extent of report’s explanation of the arrests. The final two paragraphs of the report state that Bannon and Winter were arrested, list the charges, and note that the two signed promised to appear.
Winter said he’s mystified by the police account. He said the street was not crowded with pedestrians, that police had closed off traffic and no cars were on the street. They were not obstructing anything, he said.
He and Bannon both said they feel that they were mistreated.
They said they recognize that what happened to them is insignificant in the grand scheme of life in New Haven, but that they’ve come to see that larger injustices happen frequently in New Haven without being recognized.
“The way I look at this, this kind of police misconduct has been going on in this city for God knows how long and nobody really took notice because it was a lot of people who are underrepresented,” Winter said. “But when Yale gets stepped on, everybody takes notice. ... I would hope some broad change comes out of this.”
“People say this is Yale getting a taste of the real world, and that’s definitely true, but nobody should have to deal with this,” Winter said.
“While I sympathize with the incredibly difficult position New Haven police officers are in, nothing excuses the sort of behavior I witnessed that night,” Bannon said.
The two said they would like to help reform the police department. To that end, they’ve formed Citizens For Policing Reform. They’ve banded together with local activists like Unidad Latina En Accion, My Brother’s Keeper, and CopWatch New Haven. Together, they are planning a march for Saturday to call for a stronger Civilian Review Board.
In the meantime, Bannon and Winter are fighting the charges against them in court. Winter said they were offered a deal to have their charges reduced to creating a public disturbance, but they would have had to admit guilt. They rejected the deal.
“Steve and my case will get dismissed. I have no doubt about that,” Bannon said. “There’s just nothing there.”
Agent Wallet Complained
In response to a request from the Independent, the city released a report Friday of the fifth arrest associated with the raid on Elevate.
The 21-year-old Yale student from Spain, declined to comment on his arrest.
A report prepared by Officer Angelo Mauriello offers an explanation of his arrest.
Here’s what happened, according to the report:
At 2 a.m., during the inspection of Elevate Lounge, Sgt. Guliuzza told Mauriello to investigate a complaint by state liquor control agent Barry Wallet.
Wallet told Mauriello that a student had approached him as he was conducting his inspection of Elevate. Wallet asked for the student’s ID. He refused. Wallet asked again.
The student “handed over his identification and then attempted to grab it back,” Mauriello wrote. That’s what prompted Wallet’s complaint.
The student was arrested for disorderly conduct, handcuffed, and taken to the police station.
Why are some cops wasting time, money and resources busting these kids? There are bigger, badder fish to fry in New Haven, guys. These kids aren’t going to mug or carjack me. To Protect and to Serve?
posted by: Bill on October 19, 2010 6:59am
Whether or not these Yale students think they were arrested wrongly, it is still their duty to obey the orders given them by the Police force. It’s the responsibility of the Police to delegate in these situations, and the citizens have a responsibility to comply. I’ve been in the Crown street area at that time of night - the police are everywhere trying to keep people moving and the streets clear. It is an effort to keep everyone safe and to keep drunken idiots away from each other so altercations can’t begin.
If the police repeatedly asked these gentlemen to continue on their way and remove themselves from the vicinity, they had an obligation to do so; should they have refused to acknowledge the request of the police, they have to face the consequences.
posted by: robn on October 19, 2010 8:07am
If, as reported, Bannon and Winter were 25’ away from the closest officer and were making a phone call, its incredible that they would be approached by an officer and even questioned, never mind arrested. If this story is correct, its an absolute outrage.
posted by: XXXX This on October 19, 2010 8:08am
The NHPD is on a roll. Just look at all the scandals in the police department. We must do what they tell us. We cannot trust them. Our freedoms are gone.
DeStefano is responsible and he must go. Limon too.
posted by: streever on October 19, 2010 8:51am
If their stories are true, the officers should be removed from the force.
Completely jives with me. I’ve already recounted a similar incident, when I called the police because I witnessed an incapacitated girl on the green and was worried about her safety. The police came, roughed her up, smacked her head into the car, and threatened to arrest me when I identified myself as the caller by saying, “Hi, I called for you guys because I was worried about her safety.” I was just bewildered at the rough way they were treating her.
they told me I could go to jail if I didn’t shut up and get out of there.
posted by: lance on October 19, 2010 9:02am
Thanks for the info about Ned Lamont hiring video stalkers. ...
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 19, 2010 9:30am
Look what just happen in New York.The police can’t stop people from taking pictures.
October 18, 2010, 6:00 pm You Can Photograph That Federal Building By DAVID W. DUNLAP
This would also apply to peopel taking pictures of the poilce.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 19, 2010 9:36am
I forgot to put this in there.Bottom line we have the right under the First Amendment to use cameras in public spaces without being harassed.
“This settlement secures the public’s First Amendment right to use cameras in public spaces without being harassed,” said a statement issued by Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented Mr. Musumeci in Federal District Court.
If this goes to court,The city of New haven better get ready to pay out some big bucks.
posted by: Christina on October 19, 2010 9:55am
Bill- It may be “their duty to obey orders given to them by the police force” but never when those orders are in direct contradiction to the law and our civil liberties. It was within these students rights to observe their friend’s arrest, and they ha a good reason to be there. It is not illegal to observe, videotape or photograph the police and it is important for the public to do so. Observing and recording police interactions provides transparency in policing to the public, and prevents misconduct. The police cannot ask you to stop watching them, or remove yourself from a public place as long as you are not interfering. It should also be noted that we are having a conversation about yale students experiencing police misconduct, while in this same city poor people, immigrants, and people of color experience police brutality that most of the public is unaware of. The residents of new haven deserve to be policed on their own terms, and it is our responsibility to make the police department that we want.
posted by: DKR on October 19, 2010 10:15am
wow,...how ironic that the “select-few”, who feel they are above everyone else, including the administration, feel it is ok for a yale fraternity to degrade and demoralize woman in the manner they have. allegedly for years, and you mean to tell me the administration knew nothing about it??? it appears that behavior is ok since it’s considered a “tradition”.
posted by: robn on October 19, 2010 10:55am
To quote an old photog I once knew…“if you don’t want to be photographed, you’ll need to figure out how to stop light from bouncing off of you.”
posted by: Jay on October 19, 2010 11:24am
“At a dinner party at 2AM” So they weren’t drunk downtown at bar closing time, it was a dinner party that went really late and happened to be where all the bars and clubs are. I don’t like how these cops act either but these privileged pansies are clearly full of it.
posted by: JB on October 19, 2010 12:05pm
I have grave doubts about the legitimacy of a police force that is so adverse to being photographed or filmed.
posted by: streever on October 19, 2010 12:22pm
Hm, DKR, what does your comment mean? Are you referring to the actions of the Yale frat that did that horrible chant? What part did these two men play in the degrading of a woman?
posted by: nfjanette on October 19, 2010 12:25pm
The NHPD is on a roll. Just look at all the scandals in the police department. We must do what they tell us. We cannot trust them. Our freedoms are gone.
Is the NHPD “on a roll”, or is it rather that NHI is a roll, having clearing made the decision to go to war on this issue? The press does so by hammering the same stories over and over under the guise of repeating them for background information. The net result, however, is the sense that the same small number of disputed events keep happening daily. Each event is disputed because there is a general question of the balance between the right of the public to record video in public (which has caught illegal police actions) and the needs of law enforcement to establish and maintain control at an active crime scene (which reduces danger to everyone in the area). No one has yet produced video that clearly shows all the participants involved so that one can get an objective view of the action, so the dynamic largely remains one of conflicting personal accounts.
posted by: Bob Abuey on October 19, 2010 12:31pm
I remember years back going downtown to the bars during my college days. Sometimes 2 or 3 days a week. You know how many altercations I had with the new haven police? Zero. Yes that’s right, none. Cops said to move along, I did. No arguing, no declaring my “rights to stand on public property,” no photographing cops or demanding to know what it is that they are doing or why they’re arresting somebody. I do remember being at playwrite during a liqour raid. They asked for my ID, I gave it. The one issue that night was actually with a drunkenly beligerant friend of mine who didn’t have her ID. Firstly, she brought the attention on herself, and secondly, I remember the cops being more than patient with her.
What is this kid Bannon doing? Him and his friend went to “investigate?” Really? He was also making a call to a “friend in city hall?” Who does this kid think he is? His friend worked as a tracker as explained up top? I really try my hardest to not be a judgmental person, but I think I have my mind made up about what these kids are about. See, I remember my college days, believing I was smarter than most, believing that as a college student, I had all the answers, believing that there was always a loophole in which I was right and the powers that be are wrong, and so on and so forth. Here’s a wake up call: when the police tell you to do something, aside from an unlawful order, you do it. If you don’t, you will be arrested, contrary to what the liberal professors tell you about your rights. And furthermore, I find it hard to imagine finding a single non Intoxicated person downtown on a bar night. I wonder what state of sobriety any of the people arrested were in. Face it boys, you got it in your head that because you have political connections, you can show up in scene and make some calls and viola! Problem gone. Instead you caused legal problems for yourself. You’re not activists nor are you freedom fighters. You’re overly zealous “politically connected” college kids who over stepped your bounds. Get off your high horse and stop trying to fight battles that simply aren’t there. That is all, for now at least.
posted by: robn on October 19, 2010 1:11pm
The intention of Bannon and Winter as well as their condition (intoxicated or not) is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that it’s their legal right to observe and/or record something in public at a reasonably safe distance from a police cordon and they have a right to call whomever they want to on their cell phones.
posted by: Jay on October 19, 2010 1:49pm
The intention of these two is questionable as their story of what they were doing there and what state they are in is highly dubious. The issue with the police could have easily had more to do with their rowdy, obnoxious behavior and less to do with a phone or camera as they claim. I simply don’t believe them or this story. ...
posted by: robn on October 19, 2010 4:46pm
It isn’t illegal to be “obnoxious” if your not harming anyone or disturbing the peace, nor is it illegal to have an intention to be obnoxious, nor is it illegal to use ones phone in public, nor is it illegal to record the actions of anyone in a public place, including the police.
posted by: ARW on October 19, 2010 4:50pm
Bob and Jay, your judgmental attitude is unfortunate. Two friends going to check on a third is an admirable choice if perhaps unwise at 2 in the morning. And as to their story, I see nothing unusual about it. In my college days dinners often lasted into the early morning, and anyone coming from a dinner party is unlikely to be the sort of rowdy drunkard you find at the clubs and bars.
The story that seems fishy to me is the police’s. Their report says that the two students were blocking motor vehicle traffic, but anyone who is familiar with that area of Crown St knows that police put barricades up to block cars from turning onto that street. How could they have possibly been blocking motor vehicle traffic?
Seems like an unfortunate overreaction on the NHPD’s part.
These two just made the case for the cops and why they should not be using cell phones in this situation. Their friends. who were being detained called them and they rushed to the scene. To do what? There was a rowdy,drunken crowd of about two hundred people. If everyone of them used their cell phone to call a friend, you now might have 400 rowdy, possibly drunken people. Let the cops do their job!
posted by: robn on October 20, 2010 3:03pm
drinks ARE on the house…..
the big house the pen (not the kind they use at Yale) the stir the crowbar hotel up the river the chill factory the hoosegow the joint the rock the freezer the slammer the sneezer the skinner joint the mainline joint the ice house the stockade the clink the last stop the yard stoney lonesome the cage juvie the pokey the box the cooler the calaboose the bucket the can the final mile club fed the plate factory the sol’ the timer the graybar hotel con college the country club inside the hole the jug the calender shop the digger the glass house the farm
Well, I have been there. When I was in college, I mouthed off to a cop in Union Station and was arrested for “interfering with an investigation.” Let me be clear: I was rude to the cop, and that was stupid. But of course, it is LEGAL to be rude. And the arrest report was just a total lie, filled with completely invented details. The cop had to invent details, because he well knew that he couldn’t write down, “I arrested the kid because he was being a little jerk.” So I think I have a pretty good sense of what happened to these kids (one of whom is an old student of mine): they were asking questions, that pissed off the cop, the cop arrested the kids, and then had to invent some nonsense about impeding pedestrian flow.
What’s more, I think on some level we all know that is what happened.
But I think that some of the commenters are cool with that. They know cops have a tough job (which they do), and they figure that if sometimes cops have to bend the rules, arresting kids for being wise-asses (or just asking questions), and then making up stories, well, then that is what policing involves.
But if that is what people believe, then please: just say it. Get it out in the open.
As for “Curious,” he seems to think cops should be allowed to tell innocent pedestrians not to use cell phones.
And as for Bob Abuey, I am unclear what you are arguing: that if the cops decide a kid “overstepped his bounds,” the kid should be arrested? Even if overstepping bounds means showing up and asking questions? That is NOT illegal. Even if the questions were rude (which we have no reason to believe they were). Even if the questions were persistent. PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK TO COPS, PHOTOGRAPH COPS, MAKE CELL PHONE CALLS NEAR COPS, AND BEHAVE IN WAYS THAT COPS FIND ANNOYING. But people are not allowed to break the law. All of us, including police officers, need to know the difference.
posted by: Bobby J on October 20, 2010 4:19pm
Sharpeye’s comment is exactly what the mayor wants to see. At least until the clubs pay his “protection” fee, then he’ll call “operation nightlife” off
posted by: nfjanette on October 20, 2010 5:46pm
EOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK TO COPS, PHOTOGRAPH COPS, MAKE CELL PHONE CALLS NEAR COPS, AND BEHAVE IN WAYS THAT COPS FIND ANNOYING. But people are not allowed to break the law. All of us, including police officers, need to know the difference.
Your argument left out one important point in the otherwise reasonable summary of the situation: it is illegal to disobey the orders of a law enforcement officer under certain circumstances. It is not a question of someone asking questions, taking pictures, talking on phones, but rather of what the context is in that situation. Just as you do not have the right to shout, “Fire!”, in a crowded theater, you do not have the right to perform certain actions under certain circumstances. The question is: what is the clear definition of those circumstances. In some situations, distance seems to be a factor in the evaluation. In others, the state and size of a crowd.
posted by: Anon on October 20, 2010 8:38pm
It is more than all this. on the list of demands for reform should be mandatory drug testing for cops in new haven, Yale PD and NHPD.
And brutality should not trump the issue of fabrications. Every brutality case includes fabrications. Not all fabricated charges include brutality. Bearing false witness is the name of the game for these cops. It is the root of every other misconduct they engage in. Not a single instance of misconduct I know of is without it. It is exceedingly rare for it not to be.
Finally, a Yale PD officer attacked another person on a traffic stop this summer, hospitalizing her. No prior record at all, not drinking, no DUI, no nothing. Officer had a shady record, the motorist didn’t. The case is still pending. They are engaged in covering up the video and audio of it as I speak.
There are too many cops acting like they have severe PTSD or are on steroids. They absolutely need treatment and drug testing. Better pysch testing before entering the PD academy as well. They are criminals.
A Yale officer, nice guy, literally saved me from an NHPD officer a few years ago on the scene of my recovered stolen car. The NHPD officer’s behavior was terrifying, totally clinical and we both sensed, the Yale cop and I, that we needed to wrap up the scene, stop talking and get me and my car out of there and away from him. He seemed to me to have an extremely serious case of PTSD or be on serious drugs, like steroids. He was irrational, predatory, Just absolutely well over a clinical level.
Finally, you don’t give more power to a CRB of PD sycophants, which half of the members are.
Consider the reforms carefully, and demand more reforms than you are.
Don’t turn to a single Connecticut lawyer/expert. They’re terrible, useless. Go to NY Civilian Review for model reforms. Ask the things they want to reform in NY and push for those here. Go elsewhere. Even the DOJ publishes best practices for city police departments, and these departments here haven’t implemented them.
Ditch these losers that were on the panel at Yale. Take it from one who absolutely knows. They will kill your initiatives, no matter how friendly they sound, no matter how much they act like they care about your Free Speech rights to tape and so on. Some of them are babysitters who have been hauled in every time New Haven needs to smooth out anger and disarm reforms. You can’t trust all of them.
posted by: robn on October 21, 2010 7:46am
If Bannon and Winter’s account is accurate, they were 25’ away from the police line, and they were approached by the officer. Its not legal for the police to create the circumstance under which arresting a civilian is possible…i.e., they can’t arbitrarily approach observers outside their cordon and arrest them, nor can they deny them their legal right to use their phone in public place. Inside the club it may have been a different matter because it’s was within their cordon and they were ostensibly trying to bring calm and mitigate a supposedly unsafe over occupancy. Outside…at a distance…NFW.
posted by: steve bradley on October 22, 2010 9:00am
we have all had some experience with renegade New Haven police who think their guns and badges entitle them to behave any damn way they please. I am glad this has happened to some Yale students who also operate under the idea that they are more privledged than the rest of us. Welcome to the real New Haven. But, if you read the papers we all know of the thuggish behaviors of some city police. Perhaps there will now bring some attention to both of these groups that share space with the rest of us here in our ‘Fair City’.