Protestors: Fire Officer
by Thomas MacMillan | May 20, 2011 2:55 pm
Posted to: Legal Writes
Frustrated by unresponsiveness to ongoing complaints about alleged police misconduct by a New Haven cop, a group of protestors went straight to the top on Friday.
About 20 activists and alleged victims of police abuse appeared Friday afternoon in the mayor’s office, where they delivered a letter calling for the resignation of Officer Dennis O’Connell. The mayor’s receptionist promised they would have a response by Monday.
The delivery followed a rally on the steps of City Hall, where the protestors spoke out against police abuse, amid chants of “No justice, no peace!”
It was the latest in ongoing demonstrations calling for the termination of Officer O’Connell, who’s accused of serial physical abuse of arrestees. He’s been the subject of nine Internal Affairs investigations and has been exonerated in all but one.
Police Chief Frank Limon was unavailable for comment.
Mayor John DeStefano later said he’s not familiar with Officer O’Connell or the cases against him. “I’m not aware of any of the specifics of this individual,”
“I will make an inquiry with the chief of police.” and decide how to proceed from there, DeStefano said. “I have every confidence in the chief of police’s ability to manage his department.” He said if he didn’t have that confidence, “the chief wouldn’t be there.”
“We’re here to denounce the use of excessive force,” Alvaro Garzon announced on the steps of City Hall at noon on Friday. Garzon has a complaint pending against O’Connell; he claims O’Connell tased and choked him while handcuffed. He spoke through a megaphone to kick off the ceremony. His comments were translated from Spanish by activist Megan Fountain.
O’Connell must resign, he said. “We will not be silent.”
The letter to DeStefano was read aloud by activist Leon Powell.
“While on the the job, Officer O’Connell has left a trail of carnage and destruction,” he said. Protestors have met with Chief Limon and held three demonstrations at the police department, with no results, the letter states. “As these concerns continue unaddressed, fear grows in our streets about an unaccountable police force,” the letter states.
The epistle concludes with a request for a meeting, fuller investigation of brutality complaints, and the removal of Officer O’Connell.
Several people spoke about alleged incidents of police abuse in New Haven and in Hamden.
“We cannot tolerate having these thugs with badges on our streets,” said Barbara Fair, head of My Brother’s Keeper. Their job is “to serve and protect, not to brutalize. ... We are paying for these officers to come into our community and protect and serve.”
After some more chanting, the group headed inside and upstairs to the mayor’s office, where they were told they had just missed the mayor.
That’s the way it always seems to be when protestors drop by, said Fair. “We get a little suspect.”
The protestors asked if they could set up an appointment.
“I’ll give this to the mayor and I’m sure you’ll hear from us,” said Rosemarie Lemley, the mayor’s secretary. She said they could expect a response by Monday.
Back outside City Hall, Fountain said the group will be expecting a response from the mayor after the weekend.
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9 IA investigations and the mayor has no clue who this officer is? really?
As a police officer in this city I have no problem with citizens filing IA complaints and following up with protests if they feel that they are not being taken seriously, however who is the lady that has the short hair and glasses that I always seem to see when these articles are published. Has she had issue with police brutality or is this a “cause” for her, and of all people to be protesting Barbara Fair. This is the same women that said in an interview with NHI, she could care less if a police officer got shot while preforming their duty. Get a better spokesperson.
Hey Frank remember that bus, that ran over Chief Melendez, I think I saw JD getting in the drivers seat heading your way.
Why don’t the people in this story speak to their Alderman? Alderman are supposed to have power when it comes to other things. I think they are scared of Barbara Fair.
Dennis WE GOT YOUR BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!! tell these ... to go home and try to make these complaints, they would be nothing more than a murder stat, god bless America and the rights we allow all… to have..you want rights, try paying for them, lets start with your taxes
MSJ, Who can I call to give a compliment to officer O’Connell? I had an unfortunate incident at my house and he was a responding officer… about 6 months after it happened I ran into officer O’Connell, and he said he was concerned about the incident and was asking how everything was for me..
To me, in a city so large it makes me happy to know there are officers that do remember a face and will make sure things are okay, even 6 months after the fact..
Officer O’Connell, Keep you head up. Your a good guy in my eyes.
posted by: streever on May 20, 2011 8:03pm
The Mayor has no idea of the controversy around an officer who has been featured numerous times in the local press for allegations of misconduct?
Regardless of his guilt or innocence, I can’t honestly believe that our mayor has no idea who he is or the stories around him.
Our Mayor is pretty clearly not interested in protecting our citizens. I am glad that the (alleged) victims of brutality have a spokesperson in Barbara Fair.
Maybe O’Connell is innocent, but the two cops I saw slam a young ladies head into their car repeatedly (because she was crying when they tried to put her in the car—while handcuffed—and too inebriated to stand on her own) were certainly not innocent.
If the Mayor really has so little regard for the safety of his citizens at the hands of his police force, it is time for him to go.
To Witch Burner:
Your best bet is writing a letter directly to the Chief of Police
MSJ: the woman with the short hair is Megan Fountain. As far as I can tell she spends countless hours protesting ...
@Question: Have you been paying attention? The Aldermen either have no power or only have the power that JD tells them they have.
@GO HOME: These folks live in New Haven. Where is this ‘home’ you’re suggesting they go? How do you know they don’t pay taxes? What are you trying to say because it makes no sense (unless I were to assume you are a bigot… and I don’t want to do that.)
@Witch Burner: Even the most evil person probably has done a nice thing or two in their life. I’m glad you had a good experience with this officer but that does not discount the possibility that others have not. One does question the quantity of accusations as compared to other officers working under similar circumstances.
@MSJ: I think there is a number you can call to get people to come out for your protest. It’s like a temp service or the professional mourners circle of old. (lol)
Seriously, though… one might take the time to look at the type of things she is protesting and the groups with whom she stands. If you do so you will see that it is almost always the poor, minorities, the underrepresented and often immigrant populations. You would also notice that very rarely do they claim that the person they represent was undeserving of some extra “attention.” Their complaint is that the “attention” was excessive, abusive or illegal and that the systems set up to protect their HUMAN rights failed.
Does it come as some surprise to you that government systems fail sometimes? I can recall very few articles or comments on this site that was not a discussion about government systems failing. Then why can’t we, after repeated complaints about a system, accept that perhaps something did indeed fail and dig a little deeper? And why can’t we do it without biting each other’s heads off?
Frankly, I’m SICK to DEATH of protest. I’m SICK of seeing Megan Fountain, Barbara Fair, John Lugo and the rest of them holding banners and screaming into megaphones. But mostly I’m SICK to DEATH that they still have to.
I think it’s great how everyone stands up together…
to protest against an officer who does his job, trying to control a potentially dangerous situation, maybe he doesn’t recognize his own force sometimes…
Yet when gang bangers are out there killing innocent people in broad daylight, everyone’s hiding behind their curtains, afraid of what might happen if they tell what they saw…
Maybe all the people making IA complaints should go for ride alongs with officers once in a while to see what they really have to deal with out there and see if they ever make another complaint again.
I remember Barbara Fair’s house at Lamberton and Arthur was always full of bullet holes.Many of her kid’s were dealing drugs. How many of her children are/were in prison for murder or for other crimes. I grabbed a car one time, rented by Barbara Fair, with her son Shawn Green’s property inside, and there was a lot of drugs inside… And now she, with her criminal family background is lecturing us. Didn’t her nephew, a drug dealing armed felon, Troy Smith, get shot by that Officer on Carmel St?...
For some reason, my comment was edited by someone…a friend of Ms. Fountain I would guess. What happened to freedom of speech New Haven Independent? The rest of my comment should read”...Megan Fountain seems to protest any cause that will get her on the news or in the paper.”
Please print my entire thought or print nothing at all. Can someone say censorship???
I thank God everyday that someone like Ofc. Dennis O’Connell is out here protecting my family. I applaude his hard work and dedication. I am more concerned about the liars out there creating stories to mask their misconduct. I wish the New Haven Rag and the NHI would really look into the facts and stop this slandering campaign against this officer. Just as important as a citizen, I am curious about the political activist that is allowed to voice her opinion wherever and whenever she wants. Paul you once wrote that she is a private citizen and that her privacy should be respected. I disagree. She is a politician she put herself out there. Now it is time to write about her and show her true colors. She is no longer just a citizen.
Can’t these protesters at some point be arrested for slander or defamation of character? This Officer was found to be innocent of all charges but they continue there slander with their signs, chants, posters, etc. They are protesting the same old cases over and over again.
Maybe they should put signs up and posters with pictures of bburglars child rapists, and murderers and call for them to be locked up. That surely would make our streets safer.
A lot of these people are professional protesters. Most are political protestors, etc.
For instance, when Bush was in office, you would see people protesting the war on our City green saying end the war and bring back the troops. Now that a Democrat is president, and we are still at war for 1 1/2 years since Bush was out of offce, these people are not activated even though we are still at war. They dont care about the war. They just have a political agenda.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, New Haven PD, and Officer O’Connell.
If I had to chose an officer to patrol my neighborhood who would keep drug dealing thugs out and could protect my family it would be to have Officer O’Connell as my protector. Great job Dennis. There is an old saying in police work, “If the drug dealers and bad guys are not complaining about you, you’re not doing your job.”
Good job to the NHPD. Our city is more violent than ever. We need more cops that can do the job and as citizens we need to stopo being so naive. Its dangerous out there. OUR cops are being theatened, shot at, and killed at record numbers by a very small population of New Haven residents that have no morals, ethics, and pride. Lets together get rid of these criminals and send a message to others that if you want to commit a crime in New Haven you will be ‘snitched on’ arrested, and handled like a thug.
I love NH!
It’s the same old song and dance. Fair will tell you that she lives in a dangerous section of New Haven where there are shootings and other violent crime all the time. She will tell you that the most nhpd officer’s don’t live in these same neighborhoods and simply drive by in their cruisers. What she won’t tell you is that she does not have to respond to the extremely violent calls like drive by shootings or armed robberies or handle the incidents whatsoever. She can sit safely in her house during these calls for service and criticize every move an nhpd officer makes or doesn’t make without either law enforcement training or experience. If she truly had a neutral opinion on the nhpd, she would not just comment when officer’s allegedly make mistakes, but also the countless heroic acts nhpd officer’s have made over the years to be objective in her criticism. Examples of these can be found in the officer of the week series the NHI publishes now and again. Never read a blog from fair on one of those articles.
There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, even with police officers. NINE separate IA investigations revealed that O’connell did nothing wrong. What more do you want, honestly? And there probably shouldn’t have even been nine, but people can allege and make complaints all they want. Thats the beauty of the system, but if there is no evidence or fault found, don’t act like the complaints were not investigated seriously. What these people should be protesting is the no snitching policy the community has in new haven which makes it extremely difficult to locate and prosecute the violent offenders. It would appear that Fair has and always will have an agenda.
Any citizen can do a ride-along. Do one. I have. It will be an eye opener. Then, you put your life in danger everyday trying to keep the peace in this city with little support from City Hall.
Now, go ahead and try to arrest a drug dealer that turns around and threatens your life and continues to resist arrest and let them beat the you know what out of you. Are you just going to stand there and take it? No! You are going to take your training and be aggressive in bringing this person to the ground with whatever means necessary to protect you, your colleagues and your citizens.
Stop protesting and move on to more important things. Like, say, calling for the Mayor to step down because he has taken away library hours so these kids being arrested have nowhere else to go.
Officer O’Connell is a good officer, a respectable officer and is only doing his job.
By the way, the article fails to mention how many of these arrested by O’Connell ended up in jail, are still in jail, etc….
Even as people continue to slander him, Dennis O’Connell comes to work everyday and protects this city.
Please stop destroying the name of a good man.
I have to make my comment whether it be right or wrong.I notice that all the negative blogs are made by individuals who have been in the media limelight in the past. Also I see that those bloggers have a past experience either themselves or family members with law enforcement. It seems that the number of unfounded complaints indicate a pattern of persons who have violated the law crying abuse.I have to stand by the accused officer based on past history and also the fact that these complainers,who either have or have had family members arrested by this officer.What we have here is an officer who doesn’t take the bs from criminals out of fear of the activists complaints but does his job based on the respective facts at hand at the time of each incident. Simply put is if you don’t want your butt beat then don’t resist arrest when you are wrong.
Thanks to Officer Oconnell my neighborhood is safer. Keep up the good work officer.
Barbara Fair and all of other “protesters keep protesting the same incidents that this cop was vindicated of. I hope these “concerned NH citizens” protest so vigorously when murderers and dealers are let out of jail early after serving only 40% of their jail time and comcommittingme crimes again!
I think the real problem here is that New Haven doesnt have enough injustices- although we do have plenty- and we have way too many “community activists”....
Keep up the great work Dennis, I watched you intervene and stop a bully from beating a little kid in high school - keep stopping today’s bullies and thugs. To all those people protesting, start protesting the violence in New Haven instead of those trying to stop it.
Thanks to these folks for starting the work that needs to be done to whip our justice system in shape. It’s a shame they have to do the work of the city government and our “community leaders”. Glad to see someone has a backbone to stand up to the power in this city.