George Long is looking for more than having “interfering” charges dismissed against him Tuesday. He’s looking for a state cop to be investigated for allegedly beating him up for no reason.
Long, a carpenter from Newhallville, has a fifth court appearance scheduled in state Superior Court on an interfering charge. It dates back to July 20, when police came to his door on Newhall Street to ask him to identify a man they’d arrested outside. He’s had his case continued four times because he refused to accept a plea deal for a crime he said he didn’t commit.
The real crime, say Long and his family and a local civil rights group, was committed by a state police officer who punched, knocked down, and kicked Long. The cop claims that Long “shoved” him and then resisted arrest.
Members of New Haven’s People Against Police Brutality plan to accompany Long to court Tuesday, hold a rally on his behalf, then accompany him to city police headquarters as he files a request for an internal investigation into the incident. He also plans to file a state police misconduct complaint.
“We’re not rolling over,” Long’s wife, Tanya Smith, a community activist who helped organize Tuesday’s protest rally, declared in an interview at their home Monday. “We’re not laying down. We’re not going to take it.”
Long and Smith live in a newly renovated Habitat for Humanity home with a white picket fence at the corner of Newhall and Huntington streets. Smith is the neighborhood’s Democratic Ward Committee co-chairwoman. Long, who’s 50, works as a union carpenter, these days on the Middletown natural gas plant that exploded last year.
They were inside their house at 7:30 p.m. on July 20, preparing to light the candles on the cake for their son Brian’s 10th birthday, when police came to the door. They asked Long to come outside.
A statewide narcotics task force team, composed of state and local cops, had just stopped a man driving on Huntington Street. They smelled marijuana in the car. The man admitted someone had smoked marijuana in the car. The man also said (correctly) that he is the nephew of George Long, who happens to live on that corner.
An officer directed Long to a group of cops standing at the intersection. Long approached state police Det. Mark Wiener. He asked Wiener if he wanted to speak with him.
At that point, the official police version and Long’s version diverge.
The Cop’s Side
Here’s what Wiener wrote in a incident report:
Long “appeared to be irritated” that cops needed to speak with him. “He grabbed the exterior of his jean shorts pockets to which I noted a hard bulge protruding from his left front pocket. I asked Long if he had any weapon on him to which he stated ‘No I Don’t’ and went to grab his pocket again. I told him not to reach into his pockets and also explained that to him that I was just going to pat him down real quick for my own safety to ensure he didn’t have any weapons. I told Long not to move as I attempted to cricle around to his back side to which he pivoted around and again reached towards his pocket.”
Wiener ordered Long to “stay still.” Instead, when the detective “reached to do an exterior pat of his pocket ... Long swiped my hand away from his pocket and shouted to me ‘don’t fucking touch me man.’ I grabbed his arm and told him to stay still at which time Long shoved me and told me to get off him. I pushed Long back and told him to get on the ground at which time a brief struggle ensued to get Long on the ground as I shouted to him to get back and get on the ground.”
Fellow cops tried to handcuff Long, who “repeatedly resisted and at one point attempted to stand up,” Wiener wrote. “He got into a push up position and attempted walking his hands back towards his feet to stand up at which time I used my right leg to sweep his right arm out from under him.”
The cops handcuffed Long. Wiener acknowledged in the report that “the bulge in Long’s pocket turned out to be his cell phone, a lighter and some other plastic items.”
Long said Monday that he came outside more than willing to identify his nephew when the police came to his door on July 20. When the state cop said the city police needed to talk to me, but were busy at that moment, Long said, he told the cop that he would go inside and that the officer should knock on his door when he’s ready.
“That’s when [Wiener] asked me what I have in my pocket.”
Here’s what happened next, in Long’s telling:
Long: “What do you mean, ‘What do I have in my pocket?’ I have my wallet and my cell phone.”
Wiener: “I’d like to see what’s in your pockets.”
Long: “Why? You can’t check my pockets.” I’m not under arrest, Long said he noted to the officer. I’m not a suspect in a crime. “I didn’t come out of my house to be pat down.”
At no point did he “shove” Wiener or in any way resist beyond insisting on his legal right not to be searched, Long said. He said that when Wiener reached for his pockets, he brushed the hands away.
“That’s when he punched me in the face,” Long said.
The officer had been circling around him, Long said. Long said he was aware of how officers come up behind “kids in the street” and “grab their throats,” so he circled to keep an eye on the officer.
Long said he was hit hard enough that he fell against his picket fence. As he went to the ground to get on his knees, Wiener started kicking him, he said. “They tried to put my face on the concrete.” A couple of New Haven officers drew their Tasers.
A crowd of neighbors watched what was going on. Several took out cell phones to record the beating. It was too late; it all occurred too fast.
Mark Williams, a carpenter who lives on Bassett Street, was among those in the crowd. He verified Long’s version.
“It was crazy,” Williams said in an interview Monday. “They grabbed him and jumped on him and beat him up—and arrested him. He didn’t do no shoving. He backed up. He said, ‘Am I under arrest?’ They grabbed him. The red-headed state cop hit him. He punched him; he kicked him, too.”
After the cops handcuffed him, before they took him to the station to book him, Long and Wiener had a brief conversation. They disagree about that conversation too—specifically, about a question mark.
Wiener’s version: “After Long calmed down he stated he should’ve let me pat him down but he believed he didn’t have to because he told me he didn’t have any weapons on him and he was angry that I didn’t believe him.”
Long’s version: Wiener told him he should have just let him pat him down, and then the arrest wouldn’t have happened. Incredulous, Long responded, “I should have let you pat me down?”
The trooper also told him he wouldn’t have made the arrest except for the fact that neighbors had cellphones out to take video, Long said.
Long didn’t go public with his complaints for months. He and his wife hoped the state would drop the charges. Instead, it wanted him to admit guilt in exchange for walking free.
Now he plans not just to continue insisting on his innocence, but to press the city and state police to investigate their own.
“People need to speak out about what’s going on in New Haven,” said Tanya Smith (pictured below). “They’re falsifying police documents, charging people with false charges to cover up their bad behavior.”
posted by: Freedom of The People on November 15, 2011 8:07am
When are people going to realize they have a right to beat you up and thats why no one is ever persecuted. Nationally police brutality results in between 85 and 95% rate of police never being charged with the death,maiming or injury to there victim. The rules of engagement are the same for police as it is for the military. They have a special fund to assist many departments in dealing with misconduct of officers just like a victim fund. You have to ask the question is it still legal in america to kill or assault a black man, the answer is YES the crazy thing is the police always have the same story. People in AA communities are disenfranchised for more than just not getting a chance to vote they have been assaulted by law enforcement since freedmen were hunted by police departments that would hang them and or burn them to death. Read your rich “American History”
posted by: William Kurtz on November 15, 2011 8:57am
Even if his account is 100% accurate, it sure seems that Detective Wiener overstepped his bounds in asserting that he was going to “pat down” a man asked to come out of his house in the evening to aid the police in an investigation.
posted by: flaxwell on November 15, 2011 9:21am
Should not have left his house.
posted by: JLAW on November 15, 2011 9:43am
Sounds to me like Long did not go public with his complaint so he could come up with a story to justify his actions. If it happened like Long said he should have been complaining at his first court appearance.
This is just another attempt by someone arrested to blame the police for their own actions that got them arrested.
posted by: Try Again on November 15, 2011 10:08am
Great job CSP! Keep up the good work!
posted by: robn on November 15, 2011 10:56am
Since when is it OK for police to ask someone to come out of their home to assist them, and then to then frisk that person? Are lumpy pockets probable cause for a search? If so, almost everyone in the world would be searchable. I’d be outraged if it happened to me…in fact, I am outraged.
posted by: Down & Out on November 15, 2011 10:58am
Attitude is everything, goes a long on both sides Another thought, how is it that a Democrat Committee Co Chairwoman and a Union carpenter can qualify for an Habitat for Humanity house? Just saying
posted by: Check ur facts on November 15, 2011 11:09am
Freedom of Information- how bout you do a criminal history check on George Long… He should know better than anyone else Not to move when the Police tell you not to move!
posted by: R u kidding on November 15, 2011 11:39am
@check it facts. Amazing how your true comments amazingly get erased and rewritten. So much for an “Independent” view.
Overseer,Overseer,Overseer—->Officer, Officer, Officer- See the similarity. Both work hard to control mentally and physically; the Negro Checkout KRS1, the sound of the beast is alike the police Whoop Whoop!
posted by: anonymous democrat on November 15, 2011 12:25pm
I dont think either side is telling the truth. I dont know if I got the whole story right but Longs nephew was pulled over by his house, so where does he come in ?
posted by: Grampa on November 15, 2011 12:49pm
Hey neighbors, stick by your man. I’m as white as they come, yet I’ve been harassed by new haven cops as well, for no reason. This can happen to anyone, we need to stand up to these police when they do wrong. Thank God this was witnessed by you all.
posted by: ru kidding on November 15, 2011 1:33pm
You at this rag tag paper ... obviously dont want the truth about what happens to be seen. Editing people’s comments after they have been posted, denying to post comments that criticize your actions. Do you not think people see this???...What a joke
posted by: insider98 on November 15, 2011 2:38pm
@ check you facts,...wow,..i must say,..freedom of information is worth every penny,...perhaps Mr Long has some explaining to do regarding his less then stellar record,..not say he was wrong or the cop was wrong,..but hey,..it looks to me like he’s had enough previous police contact to “know” how to act and play by the rules,...oh wait what was i thinking,...rules only apply to people not looking to cash in on 15mins of fame,..!!!! i know if i had my “rights” violated and i was arrested unlawfully,..you can bet a years pay i’d be making that complaint that night or the next day,..!!!!
posted by: Fedup on November 15, 2011 3:47pm
I find it amazing that Tonya Smith preaches she is involved in politics and yet has the odacity to live in a home built by habitat for humanity…Did she use her political pull to have this home built for her?!?! these homes are meant for unfortunate people!!! and as far as her community involvement…I wonder how many times she’s called Police on the criminals in her neighborhood…probably none…she instead focuses on the police…just sayin…
posted by: Sunday on November 15, 2011 4:12pm
Wiener was wrong on this one. You don’t invite someone to come out of their house to help with and investigation and then pat him down and on top of that “arrest him”. Where is the P/C for the arrest? Man in house minding his own business, cop knock on door asking him to come out to Id someone,the man was not a complaint nor a suspect but some how ended up getting arrested. Det. Wiener this tale is a little far fetch. It’s called “reaching” within the “long arm of law”“.
posted by: Ex-Cop on November 15, 2011 4:22pm
I just want to clarify a basic point that’s critical to the encounter. When an officer is talking to anyone while investigating an incident, if a bulge is noticed in the person’s pocket, it does give the officer probable cause to pat down the person for the sake of officer safety. The officer also cannot just take the person’s word regarding what’s in their pockets. Most reasonable people who have nothing to hide will submit to the pat down without any problem. Whenever a person becomes verbally aggressive or “brushe[s] the hands away” as Mr. Long stated in his account, it gives the officer more of a reason to insist on patting the person down. In this case, the fact that the apprehended suspect said he is related to Mr. Long gives the officer more of a reason to be careful as he interacts with him.
posted by: robn on November 15, 2011 7:36pm
I strongly doubt that there is probable cause to search someone who isn’t directly associated with a crime (passers by, relatives, witnesses). MrLongs association was tenuous at best.
posted by: William Kurtz on November 15, 2011 10:52pm
I’m not unsympathetic to the need police officers have to ensure their own safety and investigate possible crimes without undue interference. And while I am of course opposed to police ‘brutality,’ I acknowledge that it can be difficult to second-guess an officer on the scene and to recognize, after the fact, where the line between reasonable force and brutality lies (for example, take the guy running around on I think it was on or near Blake St. a couple of months ago, with a sawed-off shotgun. Reap what you sow, pal).
Having said that, I’m disagreeing strongly with two of your core assertions. The first, that an officer has some inherent and universal right to search anyone in the proximity of an investigation and second, that a person with “nothing to hide” should cheerfully submit to the pat-down just to satisfy a cop’s curiosity.
The 4th amendment guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and what can be more unreasonable than being asked to come out of your home to assist the police in an investigation, only then to treated like a criminal?
posted by: lance on November 16, 2011 1:47am
to ex-cop: the threshhold for a patdown, AKA Terry Stop, is reasonable suspicion not probable cause.
posted by: Edward_H on November 16, 2011 5:27am
An officer needs “reasonable suspicion” to do a “stop and frisk” of a person and such reasonable suspicion must be based on “specific and articulable facts”. Even taking the officers claim at face value there does not appear to be any specific fact for the officer to believe that a man who is helping them in an investigation was armed or engaged in criminal activity. There was no legal “Stop” of Mr. Long based on “reasonable suspicion” which would then lead to a legal frisk. You are correct that an officer has a legal right to search a person for his own safety but the ability to do a pat down frisk only triggers after a person has initially been LEGALLY stopped by an officer using “reasonable suspicion”. You are pretty much claiming that officers have the right to stop and frisk anyone who has a bulge in their clothing. ROBN and William Kurtz are absolutely correct.
posted by: flax on November 16, 2011 11:15am
Couldn’t the officers have brought the suspect to Mr. Long’s front yard for an ID? Mr. Long should not have to leave his house just because a police officer asks him to. In fact, isn’t that foolish? Was Mr. Long “asking for it” by crossing the threshold of his property?
posted by: Bob on November 16, 2011 1:05pm
Community policing at its finest, promoting a you vs. them attitude instead preventing a situation from escalating.
Does one need to be a member of the upper classes in order to participate in democracy? Does Democratic Party Co Chair come with some great payday?
I would think that a Union Carpenter would be an ideal candidate for Habitat For Humanity since the hours he would give back would be skilled labor.
It seams to me that Detective Wiener was technically right, but morally wrong. He was thinking tactically, not strategically. The police need the support of the community. Who is going to come out of their house to help the police now? Not I, and I am friends with a number of Officers.
Rabble rousers usually leave a bad taste in my mouth, but I will make an exception here. Too often, this stuff just gets swept under the carpet. People can certainly be wronged, and not start a public protest right away.
The Supreme Court have ruled that Police Officers may pat someone down for officer safety. Good judgement is knowing when not to do that. Shame on Detective Wiener, and shame on the State’s Attorney for not nulling this case.
posted by: Ben Berkowitz on November 17, 2011 11:36pm
Agreed with Bill Kurtz. Sounds like the officer over stepped his bounds regardless of he said she said.
posted by: End the Nonsense on November 19, 2011 1:07pm
The Detective had every right to pat down Long. Detective Wiener was doing his job in a high crime area to quote a recent article from this paper “One year after cops broke up the violent Newhallville gang known as R2, Lt. Thaddeus Reddish pulled up at the corner of Butler and Huntington streets, where homeowner Mark Barros reported that he no longer hears afternoon gunshots.” Key words from that quote Violent, Gang, Gunshots. Remember this is the area the Detective is policing. New Haven is currently ranked the number 4th Violent City in the United States. Long’s nephew was being arrested for drug charges. Long is a family member which in it of itself doesn’t make him guilty of any wrong doing but truth be known Long has past convictions… ... Given all of this, it is not unreasonable for Wiener to pat Long down for weapons. This is why standard for this is not probable cause and is a lower standard of reasonable and articulable suspicion. If you take into account these circumstances you would understand the laws that apply to Detective Weiner’s actions. Then maybe some of you would begin to realize why Long has been to court five times and they have not dismissed his arrest.
All of the above circumstances are the justification for the Detectives actions, they’re also what separate it from Cops doing random pat downs for bulges which obviously is not the case here, so don’t confuse the two! Detective Wiener was right whether u agree or disagree with his demeanor. Long should have complied instead of sparring with a Detective who knows and understands the law better than he does. Long claims he wanted to cooperate and willingly came outside his home to do so but if this is the case he would have submitted to a legal pat down. The article mentions of video taping of this incident. My question is where is it? Surely if such a video exists Long could have long since been exonerated of his charge and started his civil suit! My guess is if there is any video of this incident it supports the Detective Wiener and that is why it has never surfaced. ...
[Note: To those who keep posting allegations about Long’s criminal record beyond what appears on the state’s judicial website (which we checked), please forward us some documentation if you would like that information included on the site. You have been providing fake email addresses, so our notes to you have come back. We do not publish allegations of criminal record without verification.]
posted by: Edward_H on November 19, 2011 10:14pm
@End the Nonsense “The Detective had every right to pat down Long. Detective Wiener was doing his job in a high crime area”
“The Court also concluded that the presence of the four men in a high crime area at night was not sufficient to indicate criminal activity to justify investigatory detention.”
“If you take into account these circumstances you would understand the laws that apply to Detective Weiner’s actions”
You cite 2 reasons you believe support Det. Weiner’s “right” to do a pat down search of Mr. Long: 1. His presence in a high crime area 2. His alleged past criminal history
Each of your reasons has been dismissed in court.
Can you cite which laws or legal precedent which covers Det. Weiner’s right to frisk Mr. Long ?
“Long claims he wanted to cooperate and willingly came outside his home to do so but if this is the case he would have submitted to a legal pat down.”
The desire to cooperate with the police in an investigation does not automatically invalidate Mr. Long’s constitutional rights, if you can cite a law which supports your statement please do so. In fact some might say the cops should have been glad someone disregarded the “stop snitching” mentality that plagues police investigations in this area.
“My guess is if there is any video of this incident it supports the Detective Wiener and that is why it has never surfaced”
From the above article
“Several took out cell phones to record the beating. It was too late; it all occurred too fast”
Correct me if I am wrong, but from reading your ignorance governing legal searches I would guess you are a cop?