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Top Cop: You’re Arrested For Videotaping Us

by Thomas MacMillan | Nov 11, 2010 12:16 pm

(75) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Legal Writes

Thomas MacMillan Photo In the midst of swirling controversy about cops and cameras, Luis Luna was put under arrest for filming police in action—not by a rogue patrolman misunderstanding official department policy, but by none other than the assistant chief of police.

Luis Luna (pictured), a 26-year-old from Wallingford, was arrested on College Street early in the morning of Sept. 25 while he was using his iPhone to videotape police.

According to a police report, his arrest was ordered by Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez, who had told him not to film police breaking up a fight. Read the report here.

Luna said police took his iPhone from him and erased the video he had made. He was charged with interfering with police and spent the night in jail.

Assistant Chief Melendez (at left in photo) did not respond to requests for comment this week. Chief Frank Limon (at right) declined to comment on the propriety of Melendez’s order to arrest Luna. He reiterated his previous statements that it is not illegal to film police.

The chief has made those statements in response to recent complaints of police interfering with people’s right to photograph or videotape police in public places. The department is currently investigating several incidents in which police allegedly ordered people to put away camera phones or even snatched them out of people’s hands.

Video of one of these incidents, on Sept. 10 on Crown Street, shows an officer saying “You don’t take pictures of us,” before taking a camera from a man who was recording footage of an arrest in progress. Click the play arrow to watch that clip.

The cops-and-cameras complaints are part of a larger controversy involving allegations of physical and verbal abuse by New Haven police. The charges stem largely from “Operation Nightlife,” the police crackdown on clubs on Crown Street that began in September in response to a downtown shootout that left two hospitalized. The operation included an Oct. 2 raid on a private Yale party, using SWAT cops. That raid—overseen by Assistant Chief Melendez—prompted an outcry from Yale students who felt their rights were violated.

Luna said he feels his rights were violated too.

Here’s what he said happened on Sept 25, on the first night of Operation Nightlife:

Luna, who works at a Verizon call center in Wallingford, had been hanging out with some friends at Anna Liffey’s bar on Whitney Avenue. When the bar closed at 2 a.m., he hopped on his bike and went looking for something to eat. As he pedaled down Crown Street, he saw officers arresting three people on College Street just south of Crown, alongside Co-op Arts and Humanities High School. He got off his bike, walked it over to about 25 feet away from the action, took out his iPhone and started filming.

Luna, originally from Ecuador, is a member of a group called Copwatch New Haven. The group organizes activism against police brutality. He also works with Unidad Latina En Accion, a Latino advocacy group.

Assistant Chief Melendez noticed Luna and approached him “in a very intimidating manner,” Luna recalled. He asked what Luna was doing.

“I said, ‘Filming,’” Luna recalled. “He grabbed my phone and walked away.”

Melendez ordered officer Kristen Fitzgerald to arrest Luna for interfering.

“I just could not believe it,” Luna said.

The police put him up against the wall of the school next to the three men he’d just been filming being arrested. They turned out to be Marines just back from Iraq. Luna said he was fully cooperative with police, who searched him and took his bag and bike.

As he was being loaded into the police wagon, Luna asked Melendez, “Where’s my cell phone?” he recalled.

“What are you talking about?” the chief responded, according to Luna.

“I thought I’d never see it again,” Luna said.

He was taken to the police station. In the morning he spoke to the bail commissioner, who reduced his original bail of $5,000 to a promise to appear.

While he was in jail, one of the marshals came to his cell and said his phone had been dropped off. When Luna got it back he found that two videos had been erased. In their place was a single photograph (pictured) of what appears to be police feet on a concrete floor. Luis said he thinks police took the picture by accident when they erased the videos he made.

A brief arrest report written by Officer Fitzgerald confirms the outline of Luna’s story. She writes that police were arresting three combatants when Luna rode up on his bike.

“He began taking pictures and filming. Asst. Chief Melendez approached Mr. Luna and asked him to leave as well as stop filming. Mr. Luna did not do so. Therefore, Chief Melendez instructed me to arrest Mr. Luna,” Fitzgerald wrote.

“It’s not our policy to arrest people for filming,” Chief Limon said in a conversation Wednesday. “As a general principal, it is not illegal to video.”

Chief Limon said the department is currently writing a policy on camera use with the assistance of the city corporation counsel. He declined to comment on why Melendez would have ordered Luna’s arrest. He said he has not looked at the details of the incident.

Asked about the ongoing internal affairs (IA) investigations into other complaints stemming from Operation Nightlife, Chief Limon said IA is concluding its interviews with the officers involved and hopes to wrap things up by the first or second week of December.

Limon declined to share what IA has so far discovered. He said he’s waiting until the probes are complete. “I really don’t dive into investigations.”

Chief Limon confirmed that Melendez was in charge when SWAT cops were sent into Elevate on Oct. 2. “We can say this, he was responsible in terms of the operation.”

Limon declined to say, as the mayor has said, that it was a mistake to send in SWAT. The chief said he’s waiting until the investigation into the incident is complete before passing judgment.

Disturbance

On Oct. 8, Luna appeared in Superior Court on Elm Street to answer to the charge of interfering.

“I approached the prosecutor and he said they would drop my charges and that I would have to pay a fine for creating a public disturbance,” Luna said. Luna said he thought to himself that he shouldn’t have to pay anything, that he hadn’t done anything wrong. But the prosecutor told him he probably wouldn’t qualify for a public defender, Luna said. He said when he asked where he might find a lawyer, he was referred to the yellow pages.

Without the time or money to fight the case, Luna decided to agree to the deal. He was charged with the lesser crime of creating a public disturbance.

When the judge asked if he was guilty, he said no, Luna recalled. “The judge explained I have to plead guilty,” he said. “At that moment when I said I’m guilty, I felt like I was going against myself.”

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posted by: Terry on November 11, 2010  12:40pm

I hope more people step up and make it known that this happens all the time. It is not right.

posted by: Townie on November 11, 2010  12:54pm

I think its time for Chief Limon and his cronies to go back to Chicago. They have turned the NHPD into a Gestapoesque force that constantly violates citizens’ civil rights.

The NHPD has always had a reputation for being rough with suspects, however, recent events reflect a pattern of increased, and unnecessary, brutality. It also reflects a decrease in proactive community policing and a return to reactive tactics and policies.

posted by: Margaret on November 11, 2010  1:28pm

It is time for meaningful civilian review of this department.

posted by: random on November 11, 2010  1:43pm

I think the fact that the assistant chief has destroyed evidence of a crime should be more then enough for us to realize we should be protected from him not by him.

posted by: OMG on November 11, 2010  1:54pm

Wait he works for Verizon but has an Iphone….hmmm

posted by: robn on November 11, 2010  1:55pm

This is an absolute outrage.

posted by: CT Liberal on November 11, 2010  3:00pm

Mr. Luna should contact the ACLU and file a civil lawsuit against Melendez and the department for violating his 1st Amendment rights.

posted by: notty on November 11, 2010  3:05pm

Why are you blaming the chief. This type of behavior in the department was happening long before chief limon got here. Most of you who live in the suburbs wouldnt know this, most in the african and hispanic communities deal with police brutality every day. Oh by the way, that yale thing was not police brutality, ask anyone in the hood what police brutality is and you will see its nothing like what happened at club elevate. Whether any of you realize it chief limon is holding officers accountable for their actions. Pay attention and you will see we have a good chief who is stern but fair not just to new haven citizens but officers too.

posted by: ricky on November 11, 2010  3:08pm

i cant stand the cops in this city, not because im a multiple felon convict but because they do whatever they want in this city. But i have to say that some of these people that are filming and making a big fuss are wasting there time. guys like willie white were the norm here. It sucks but ive been here a long time(almost 28 yrs)and things have gotten much better but in the past 5-10 years. i just dont understand where these people were 15 years ago, man you should have seen the cops then, made dirty harry look clean.

posted by: wannabe spielbergs on November 11, 2010  3:26pm

Does the Chief accept responsibility for anything, or does he just pawn it off on other people in the department, like his excuses?

I’ve been downtown and when the police try to clear out an area and say it’s time to go, you go. You don’t challenge them, you just leave. Then they give you no trouble. At least that’s my experience. There’s ALOT of people downtown, why would you want to hang around after all the places are closed anyway? It’s stupid, and you’re stupid if you wanna b=make yourself look tough by challenging the cops when they’ve got their hands full already, dealing with drunk and hardheaded clubgoers.
I’ve also been downtown when a female has tripped while walking and guys show up with their cellphone, trying to either embarass the girl by taking video up her skirt or maing her look like a sloppy messy drunk. THAT’s not right, I don’t want some stranger going around with video of me or my friends without me knowing. Some of these people take it out of hand and do it just to provoke the police and forget about what normal citizens might feel about their wannabe film making tendencies.

posted by: Brian M. on November 11, 2010  3:31pm

Making a false arrest and destroying evidence. Very nice.

The union will back him up 110% on this.

posted by: doug on November 11, 2010  3:55pm

Too bad Mr. Luna wasn’t using some of the free apps that simultaneously stream and record video to the web.

posted by: Carlito Brigante' on November 11, 2010  4:52pm

what is the role of the Assistant Chief of Police???

posted by: grey on November 11, 2010  4:54pm

As anti-authority as I like to consider myself to be, I can’t stand it when people try to flex their law knowledge in front of police officers. I find that whether or not what you’re doing is legal often has little to do with getting yourself arrested. A cop will arrest you for doing legal things and charge you with something ambiguous like “disturbing the peace,” or “interfering,” just to ruin your night. You think you’re making a point when you pull out your video camera and tell yourself, “well, it’s legal for me to film the police.” However, the sad reality is that when you’re sitting in a cell over night with actual criminals, then in court with no money to pay for a lawyer, then paying a fine for a “lesser crime,” it’s really not you who’s making the point, is it? I agree that some reform needs to be made, but getting arrested sucks whether you did anything wrong or not.

posted by: streever on November 11, 2010  5:13pm

Wow. This is insane. If I was in charge? He’d be out. That’d be it for him. How dare he seize private property from a law-abiding citizen and delete it?

In my mind, this has set the NHPD at 0 if they can’t respond to this properly.

This really puts the story about them seeking help on “marketing” in a context—an awful one. If it’s not just the rare patrol officer who believes they can do this, but it is up to the level of an Assistant Chief, then the department needs systemic review and changes.

Where is the department in conducting the changes outlined in the Perf?

posted by: cecilia proto on November 11, 2010  5:55pm

I am embarassed at this article, as I drive by Ferraro,s on Grand Avenue and see all the men standing around dealing drugs, the hookers selling their bodies on Ferry Street, all the kids, who should be in school all day hanging around.  The police are arresting people who are taking pictures.  “Old Saying”, ” A picture is worth a million words.”  If your not doing anything to be ashamed of, I would be happy to have someone filming me.  Its starting to smell like Guilt.  I would like to say that the city of New Haven lives by their own rules.  Just like the cops, state troopers and mailmen can park in the handicap spot in front of city hall.  As a handhandicappedson, I got a ticket last week because a mailman was parked there.  They said they can park there, this is the crap that goes on in New Haven…........

posted by: nfjanette on November 11, 2010  6:27pm

It is possible that those erased videos could be recovered using known software and/or processes.  It would be interesting to see what the video reveals about the incident.

posted by: Doyens on November 11, 2010  6:34pm

Is Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez one of the imports from Chicago? Send him home. He clearly doesn’t know the law, but worse, he has no self control or ability to make an intelligent decision in the middle of a police operation. If his decision making ability and judgement is so diminished during a little Crown St operation, then he shouldn’t be on our payroll. What will happen when something really big happens? When there is real stress? Destroying evidence one can use to defend himself in court? Just fire him. Enough already.

Further, Limon wants to go around the city and dialogue with the community. Dialogue about what pray tell, when his assistants are arresting law abiding people and destroying evidence? This incident is disgusting. Why do we always end up with ninnies on our payroll, and then told told they’re really smart caring people?

posted by: CT Web Design on November 11, 2010  6:49pm

It’s a shame that he had to pay anything, especially when it was his rights that were violated.

posted by: Andy on November 11, 2010  6:53pm

It’s NOT against the law to film police. Nor should it ever be, if they are talking about a NEW law with Corporation Counsel than that of course would have to be proposed to the Board of Alders and in the future a City wide vote on the subject might happen.
But for breaking the law and committing a false arrest like this the cop should lose his job/be suspended w/o pay /Demoted

posted by: Help on November 11, 2010  6:57pm

Somebody please call Chief Lewis!!!!

posted by: Mike on November 11, 2010  7:00pm

As much as I detest the local cops violating peoples rights, this is old news. The question is are they still doing this?

posted by: Leslie on November 11, 2010  7:30pm

I realize that this is a very serious issue and I applaud the Indy for covering it, but I have to say, I also loved the phrase “police feet”! Simply got a kick out of it!

posted by: robn on November 11, 2010  7:32pm

LUIS,

It is possible to recover your data. Stop using the device and consult a professional immediately. This might be a way to get your police record expunged because it would prove your case.

http://www.vitaldata.ca/prices.html

posted by: Bill Heinrichs, Esq, on November 11, 2010  7:39pm

It seems to me that any reasonable person would follow the directive of a police officer and raise any questions he or she may have about the appropriateness or legality of the officer’s command only at a later time. Legal conduct, including video recording, once perceived by the officer as interfering, creating a disturbance or hampering the officer’s objectives,  can lead to an arrest. Consider another example: suppose an individual approaches a police officer who is engaged in crowd control with a question, and the police officer responds by telling the individual to move along, yet the individual persists in questioning the officer again. I submit that the officer would be within his rights to arrest the individual on a charge such as interfering with a police officer. Video recording from a distance may be legal, but close-up video recording may well constitute grounds for an arrest, depending on the context and the officer’s perception of the situation.

posted by: Question on November 11, 2010  7:48pm

To - OMG,

First off, just because he works at Verizon, why can’t he have an Iphone?  Congress just passed the law where Iphone’s can be unlocked and used on any network.  Verizon sucks though. lol

And all of this drama with the NHPD all comes from the head, King Johnny.  Once he’s gone, and all of his cronies like Smuts and Limon, then the dept will get better.  Until then, I’m upset that I’m a resident of NH.

posted by: Threefifths on November 11, 2010  8:15pm

posted by: nfjanette on November 11, 2010 5:27pm
It is possible that those erased videos could be recovered using known software and/or processes.  It would be interesting to see what the video reveals about the incident.

But you have the arrest report from the police officer already that says Asst. Chief Melendez approached Mr. Luna and asked him to leave as well as stop filming.This should be enough

posted by: Marty on November 11, 2010  9:41pm

DeSStefano really picks the greatest, doesnt he. The chiefs writing a policy on citizen Rosmunda, is he. Will it spell it out word for word that the cops really do have to follow the law. He ought to know it by now, and follow it. Its completely legal to film on the street and on public property. Which part of Iran or Burma or Bosnia are we living in. There are now 130,000 citizens in town that wont snitch to cops. I just hope some aggressive attorney sues the pants off these guys.

posted by: I know on November 11, 2010  9:53pm

I had worked with Chief Melendez for years.  I can not say I was overly impressed by his work-yet he was the most honest and decent cop to work with.  There is a lot of pressure from being a police officer for 25 or so years and then having to work with a chief from a thousand or so miles away come in and set the venue for policing in a town Melendez knows better than he does.  There are so many new officers on NHPD,so many wasted paper pushers holding Lieutenant and Captain badges who are afraid to work on the street, and so many really talented experienced officers that are not given the chance to be true leaders.  The NHPD lost so much talent because DestephaKnowsnothing ran them out.  Look at the talent that left because the political bs.  The NHPD and the mayor ruined this pathetic department.  How would they get a really qualified applicant while the town itself is an embarrassment?  “Yes sir, I would love to be the chief of the most embarrassing and talentless police force in the U.S” Wake up and get the mayor out….reorganize the PD by true talent and not politics and stop the bs.  Maybe then crimes will be solved and we can all live in a town that doesn’t question its officers.

posted by: Observer on November 11, 2010  9:53pm

Ariel Melendez is not a CHicago import.  He’s been a member of the New Haven force for over 20 years which makes me wonder what the hell he’s thinking????

posted by: citysavior on November 11, 2010  11:12pm

let me get this straight, Luna works at the call center in wallingford, and is downtown filming cops who are making a arrest, is arrested and plead guilty!!! but claimed he was forced into it and his tape is erased on September 25th 2010 and now he making everyone aware of this?? sounds like someone is not telling the truth. Didn’t the yale students and activist march on the police department? where was luna ? oh right Verizon didn’t give him the day off -can you hear me now? drama ten minutes of fame. I find it hard to believe that he is just letting every one know. Is he taking a stab at Chief Limon? is Limon throwing Melendez under the bus when every one knows the buck stops with the chief of police and he knows he was downtown for the compliance checks? stay tuned as the next episode of 10 minutes of fame continues. GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS FOR KEEPING US SAFE AROUND THE WORLD AND GOD BLESS THE POLICE OFFICERS OF THE NHPD WHO CONTINUE TO COME TO WORK AND GIVE 110 % TO KEEP US ALL SAFE DESPITE ALL THIS NEGATIVE BASHING AND LACK OF LEADERSHIP AND SUPPORT FROM CITY HALL RIGHT TO THE CHIEF.

posted by: Mrs. Maureen C. Kish on November 12, 2010  1:00am

I just wanted to comment on Mrs. Proto’s submission. I think that the way way were treated by the New Haven Police was very terrible. We had to park in the pouring rain three blocks away from the church we were going to~to support a friend, and could not find one single handicapped parking space, they were all occupied by municipal employees. Unbelieveable~plus we were harrassed by some awful woman who tryed to threaten us getting out of the car. To top it all off, there was a parking ticket on my friends car when we got back after church! (I’m severely handicapped myself and was shocked at the way that we were treated!) If we have to give our parking spaces over to a mailman, then who’s to stop anyone from parking in our spaces. You would think that atleast City Employees would follow the law, and some nerve giving us a parking ticket for being too close to the line at an intersection with no way to make a right hand turn! Shame on NHPD for that fine! 30 bucks to go to church, for shame!

posted by: Ben Berkowitz on November 12, 2010  1:27am

Disgusting,
Both Chief Limon and the assistant Chief need to be removed immediately. Too much.

posted by: Really on November 12, 2010  5:53am

Assistant Chief Melendez noticed Luna and approached him “in a very intimidating manner,”

How do you walk over and approach someone in an intimidating manner? Please let me know so i can practice this “intimidating walk.” This article sounds trumped up to me.

posted by: gc on November 12, 2010  7:17am

As a New Haven resident for 30 years I now that all the members of the NHPD are not like Billy White.  99% are hard working men and women working with a group of out of control people, in certain areas.  With that said, it should be noted that AC Melendez should never have been made chief. ...  Limon had to base his choices on who runs the department based on resumes.  If you read these resumes you would believe that the people are will rounded experienced officers.  But if you worked with them you would know the truth. ... Since when is filming in public a crime.  ITS not and a chief should know that.  Second why would a chief use a tactical team to raid a bar.  Its against all rules in using a SWAT team.  You would think he know that since he is on the team.  ...
Please do not blame all members of the NHPD ...

posted by: kamb on November 12, 2010  9:40am

Shame on Luna and the rest of these people who come to New Haven to patronize the bars and restaurants, and then at the end of the night, act like idiots.

These drunk people are out of control, and they salvate at the mob-like mentality that the police have to deal with. So what do they do, instead of leaving and clearing the sidewalks when asked to by police, they congregate, and film officers trying to simply get done with their shift and go home. In addition to dealing with obnoxious drunks, the police have to deal with everyone who has a phone/ video camera who want to exercise their rights while sticking a camera in a cops face as the wrestle, reason, and fight with drunks.

These people are no better than lawyers who chase ambulances. The want attention and as this article clearly shows, they’re getting their 15 minutes of fame.

Good job to the NHPD and Asst. Chief Melendez.

posted by: Deb on November 12, 2010  11:33am

I am deeply concerned about relations between police and young people. I am hopeful that everyone in the community will work together to improve relations with law enforcement. We are all responsible for lawful behavior.

posted by: New Havener on November 12, 2010  12:04pm

.... pics tells a thousand words (better then words).  Had it not been for the police cam-camera in that Milford accident, those cops would have, probably, gotten away with a horrific crime.  Cameras are everywhere, traffic lights, parking lots, highway, movie theatre, you name it, and cameras are there.  Besides, the MAYOR already spoke about this issue a few article back, and gave the citizens his blessings so what’s the problem.  WE HAVE THE RIGHT. If they are acting within the law, again, what’s the problem.  This is the land of the free?????

posted by: ray vera on November 12, 2010  1:02pm

@kamb: freedom isn’t free, remember?

you may not like what luna did, but it was his right to do so. your discomfort is a much smaller price than what luna had to pay. i say call in the ACLU.

why couldn’t the officers “enforce” while being filmed? there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public, either for them or for private citizens.

posted by: Anon on November 12, 2010  2:16pm

Mr. Luna, evidence that police destroyed your footage would have required the judge to dismiss all charges outright.

Also, you are not the only one with an interest in recovering that lost footage. 

The guys you were taping, who were getting arrested also had/have and interest in it.

Establishing the mere fact that police did it allows those guys to argue in court that police deliberately destroyed evidence of the incident, a big no no.

Knowing New Haven lawyers and judges and the license granted by Dearington to prosecutors, its a 50 50 chance everyone will sleep walk through that. The arrestees and their lawyer might never even find out that there was evidence in their case that was deliberately destroyed by police.

If you don’t contact the lawyers of those fellows arrested, it may never come out.

This article won’t cause it to happen even if it is put in front of Dearington, the chief prosecutor, or the judges in the courthouse. It will be ignored unless those arrestees’ lawyers raise it themselves in their clients’ cases. See if you can’t find the arrestees or their lawyers and inform them. Or perhaps the NH Independent can find out. It actually won’t be easy to find out their names unless the press pushes for it. There is no way to easily look up a date and get the names of everyone arrested that day.

posted by: notty on November 12, 2010  5:01pm

Ok Ben Berkowitz, you said you want to get rid of Chief Limon, because in your opinion this is to much. Remember the Chiefs from Chicago just got into town, this mess was here when they got here. By the way 25 murders in the two years Chief Lewis was at the helm, and 1 to my knowledge was solved, do you consider that to be to much and shouldn’t we had gotten rid of him, and what about a no vote of confidence, not one officer moved to have a no vote of confidence, could it be because those victims were African American males. You seem outraged that Melendez could do such a thing, yet i would like to know what your opinion was when 26 murders where not solved in two years, and 3 to 4 have been solved since the new chiefs arrived. How bout the rest of you who are bashing chief limon, what were your feelings pertaining to the information provide above?

posted by: citysavior on November 12, 2010  6:57pm

slow your roll notty!! Lets talk solvable rate of homicides. your quote"26 murders where not solve in two years, and 3 to 4 have been solved since the new chiefs arrived” . So you are putting your hat on 2 ground balls where every one cooperated with the same detectives that investigated the other 26?? please this group has not introduced any change in procedure or policy in solving crime. Chicago is a crime infested city with very much corruption with in the walls of the police department. The rearranging of chairs by way of rewarding failures has got to stop in this city. If you can’t get the job done then no more comfy 9 to 5 jobs go to midnights and learn how to do your job. What about the 168 shooting who’s solving those cases?? not the new chiefs if that was the case their wouldn’t be 19 homicides this year. 2 or 3 for 19 are you proud of that rate ?? im sure the poor families of the victims are not!!! Since when is one persons accusation gospel? Did luna see the asst. chief erase the info?? hell of a accusation by luna may be a better claim was the police erased the info this would encompass all the officer that were present. So if its found that the Asst. chief was not responsible can he sue Luna for slander?? just saying

posted by: Anonymous on November 12, 2010  9:38pm

If only he didn’t plead guilty :(

posted by: new havener on November 12, 2010  11:07pm

I am almost delighted that the NHPD officers are being video by folks other then the ones they really beat-down?  We have a PD with lots of issues: Brandy, Reynolds, Hit-n-Run ex-officer, among others with criminal mind set,  abusive, which can lead to unnecessary force.  The real reason they don’t want to be video, and I don’t believe it’s due to distraction or interferring they don’t want you to witness them beating the he// out of someone.  They beat ur ...and then make a false claim of resistence.  Always ur word against theirs.  Of course they have the power so no one wins against police brutallity.  Mr Mayor and our Yallies,  we have been yelling about this for years.  Can you hear us now!!!!!

posted by: Ex-NHPD on November 13, 2010  1:25am

I am more than surprised that none of the posters have weighed in on Limon’s comment in this article about the SWAT incident at Elevate.  In my post after the incident, I asked the question of who authorized their entry and/or staying at the Club; that I believed they did not go in on their own. And many posters were piling on the NHPD for having SWAT in the Club.

It now appears that Limon is hanging that decision/responsibility on Melendez.  Yet, if it was Melendez who made the decision to have them enter the Club, where does that leave Limon in the equation?  Was he also there that evening? I thought I saw him in the photos of that night.  Did he see SWAT in the Club and not question their presence and/or not order them out?  Granted, it was Melendez’s Operation; but if the Big Chief is going to don his uniform and come down to the party, and he sees something that he knows is not right, does he not share in the responsibility if he does nothing to address it in that moment?  I think that would fall under “Failure to Supervise”.  It is even worse if he then hangs the other guy out to dry for the decision.

posted by: nno on November 13, 2010  10:22am

At the rate this PD is winning fans, I predict by next St. Patty’s day they will be arresting spectators Booing the police marching in the parade.

And Limon’s answer to this is not to stop his guys from swearing, tasing, berserking, fabricating and so on, but to hire a PR spin miester to convince us to like it so he can violate our rights even more?
...

posted by: Celtic Ferret on November 13, 2010  8:10pm

I’m thinking that surely these data files, be they on hard drives or solid state drives, should be recoverable using common file recovery tools such as PhotoRec v6.11? See http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec
for more info.

posted by: Joseph on November 13, 2010  10:34pm

sharpeye: I went back and read the anon. post and it seemed clear to me. he pleaded GUILTY. ...

posted by: Doesn't make sense on November 14, 2010  7:58pm

Maybe it’s me, but is almost no one else reading that he didn’t get arrested for videotaping, but for not leaving the area when asked to do so? Criminals have rights too, and maybe the person being arrested didn’t want to be on anyone’s video… I’m sure someone getting arrested wouldn’t want to be embarassed by showing up in someone’s youtube video for other peoples pure “entertainment.”

Plus, who leaves the bar at 2am to “find something to eat” and ends up on Crown Street—where it’s lined with clubs that ALSO close at 2am??? You want something to eat, try going a few blocks the other way to Cody’s diner, or even closer to Broadway’s A-1 pizza or GOurmet Heaven, which are open all night. You’re from Wallingford, riding a BIKE, and you decide to go down Crown Street? And you stop to videotape an arrest that has nothing to do with you?

Sounds like someone was looking for something, but it wasn’t food…

Mr. Heinrichs, thank you for a legal viewpoint of the incident. And I agree with those who mentioned the Chief… if he was there and didn’t feel it was right for SWAT to enter, why didn’t he say anything? Sounds like the chief needed a scapegoat.

posted by: mike on November 14, 2010  9:15pm

EX-NHPD!!!!!! You are right!!!,
Chief Limon ... orchestrated and developed the “outline” for the amount and description of officers that were involved in entering Club Elevate…
And, as the Chief Of Police,and having been present during the “RAID”,wouldn’t he be the HIGHEST RANKING OFFICER????? 
Talk about throwing someone under the BUS…
Mr. Chief Limon, you need to MAN-UP..

posted by: Pastor Paul Juchniewich on November 14, 2010  10:06pm

The Norwalk cops tried to railroad me.  Please feel free to read my story at suebadcops

I did my own defense and got the “victim” to admit stuff she never said ended up in her statement.

The chief of police offered to meet with the democrat party chair over me cause I sued her friend.  A year later and a month after I got paid 500k and 3 days before a contempt hearing to force open the books of my condo the police pull me out of my church during my sermon and cuff me in view of my people.

There is lots more to the story.

I am suing in Federal court.  read my complaint at the suebadcops site

posted by: Jerre Davis on November 15, 2010  12:32pm

It appears to me that the NH police have become the gangsters, breaking the law in every way, it’s really sad what New Haven has become, they really should be spending their time solving these murders and getting to know their neighborhoods. God help Hew Haven

posted by: davesworkout on November 15, 2010  12:49pm

“probably wont qualify for a public defender”?

wtf.

you have the right to an attorney. if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.

“i cannot afford one”. thats all you have to say.

posted by: Paul on November 15, 2010  3:43pm

Wouldn’t going into someone’s personal cell phone to delete a video be a great example of an illegal search? I imagine if he had videos of himself committing actual CRIMES, they would be inadmissible in court because they were obtained illegally. I don’t see what the difference is here.

posted by: Anony Mouse on November 15, 2010  3:48pm

“they’ve got their hands full already, dealing with drunk and hardheaded clubgoers”

Good thing they get paid for it.

posted by: Diesel on November 15, 2010  4:00pm

I was a cop.  T…  I’m pro law enforcement, a military vet, and a conservative, and folks, THIS is un-freaking-AMERICAN! ...

posted by: Kelli on November 15, 2010  4:30pm

I think the guy should try to get some data recovery program and try to recover his lost films.  This may help him, if it even works.

posted by: Angry Voter on November 15, 2010  7:20pm

This is the USA.

They are not Secret Police.

Government officials and agents have NO expectation of privacy in performance of unclassified operations.

Law enforcement should be on camera, mice & GPS the entire time they are working.  Why would they object unless they know they are doing something wrong?

posted by: F Todd Perzy on November 15, 2010  7:28pm

I am sure the video could easily be recovered, then he could be vindicated if need be.

posted by: j on November 15, 2010  7:52pm

So then didn’t the Assistant Police Chief just destroy evidence?

posted by: Ariel backer on November 15, 2010  8:23pm

Good job Chief..It only takes a second for these photographers to take your attention off an arrestee given that arrestee a chance to pull out a weapon and injure ,even kill, one of the arresting officers.

posted by: Tory on November 15, 2010  9:47pm

Amazing the CRY BABIES. If people would stay out of trouble and not interfere with police operations, there would not be so many people complaining. The errant few that want to get high and drunk and fight with the world are making it bad for the ones that just want to go out and have a good time. The clubs need to own up to their shortcomings and comply with liquor laws and stop serving alcohol to minors. As for the Yalies, keep your noses clean and you’ll have nothing to cry about. I made sure I did not get into trouble when I was in college. I didn’t do ANYTHING that was going to jeopardize my getting my degree. Chief Limon is trying to establish law and order in a town that is seriously out of control. It is obvious that Chief Limon lead the operations that many protested. He was out in the trenches with his troops. Why the protests? Do the right thing and you’ll have no problems. Chief Limon obviously realized that he needed SWAT to back up his officers in the event of a large brawl. I agree with other writers: Don’t Throw Asst Chief Melendez under the Bus. He follows the Chief’s orders!!!!!!! More than 200 people spill out into the streets after bars close. I don’t like going into New Haven at night and this is one of the reasons why. Take back New Haven Chief Limon. And as for this Luna character, hope he enjoys his 15 minutes of fame. CAN YOU FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO CRY ABOUT? KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN. CRY BABIES!!!!!!!!!

posted by: Joey on November 16, 2010  12:46am

Since when is it illegal to record public servants doing their job.  Tory - I think it’s time for the Feds to investigate - once again.

posted by: Some Guy on November 16, 2010  1:27am

“Conspiracy to deprive a person of their civil rights under color of authority” is a federal crime, which carries a penalty of a ten-year stretch in prison.  If we had a JUSTICE system, that’s the charge that these cops would be facing.

posted by: Ellis Copeland on November 16, 2010  6:37am

I hope he sues the &^%% out of this one horse town and that “officer.”  It is a basic right!!!!!!  I love how cops screech that people with nothing to hide should be happy to be looked at but they change their tune when they’re being looked at.  What are they hiding??????  Every member of NHPD should be fired—Billy White was NOT an anomaly.

posted by: Jane Mills on November 16, 2010  4:18pm

To Some Guy:

“Conspiracy to deprive a person of their civil rights under color of authority” is a federal crime, which carries a penalty of a ten-year stretch in prison.  If we had a JUSTICE system, that’s the charge that these cops would be facing.”

We do have serious problems in our justice system. I agree. 

The US Attorney’s Office in Connecticut is sitting on 2005 videotape evidence of an incident at the New Haven Federal Courthouse involving a New Haven police officer and is adamant about keeping it under wraps and keeping the FOIA preserving them in permanent limbo. 

The office reject reports on officials engaged in civil rights violations.

They prosecute a minuscule number and for only certain reasons, and it ain’t that there isn’t evidence.

Call the new US Attorney for Connecticut, David Fein, and demand he do better. Demand he release the 2005 tapes to the proper technicians.

Demand that the NHI write about it too and ask them why NHI hasn’t.

And pray for me for opening my mouth.

Anyone who wants to learn more about it, or sign a petition for release of the tapes or work with me to address the lack of attention to ‘color of law’ claims can email me, at janemills1111 at yahoo dot com.

The petition currently has about 100 signatures, including those of several professors, a former federal prosecutor, an attorney for the ACLU, a national committee member of the Society of Professional Journalists, some editors and lots of regular people.

posted by: Animals Snakes on November 16, 2010  5:19pm

Connecticut, the police feel beyond reproach.  This does not bode well for their safety.

Must be why they send SWAT in against college students…

/..

posted by: Kelli on November 16, 2010  7:35pm

F Todd Perzy:

Good idea… wonder if they thought about this in the first place???  It really could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.

posted by: IcyDeadpeeple on November 16, 2010  8:21pm

This is why Smartphone Users should use an app like Qik, it automatically uploads the video.  All you do is password protect your account and the Police can’t destroy the evidence.  That doesn’t even sound right, but unfortunately, the few bad Cops make all of them suspects.  By the way, the assistant Chief should be charged with tampering with evidence, and if sustained, should be fired.

posted by: chris on November 17, 2010  10:20am

This story is really disturbing, and I agree with Jane that what makes it even worse is the lack of legal recourse. Why can’t people defend themselves in simple cases such as this? Why should Luna need a lawyer just to say: I am not guilty? I guess I don’t understand our legal system anymore.

posted by: Anon on November 17, 2010  9:04pm

The police report you linked to is missing page 3.

Anyway, I noticed the officer writes that Luna’s bike was taken into custody but it doesn’t say anywhere the police confiscated his phone. Is it OK to leave that out?

And it is interesting that Luna said police said, ‘what are you doing?’ where the police report said he was asked to leave and stop filming, ‘asked to leave, standard groundwork for even a flimsy charge of interfering. Saying ‘what are you doing?’ is not probable cause of anything.

Who would know that better, Luna or PD?

posted by: Will Trigg on November 18, 2010  1:45pm

From unknown officer, “You don’t take pictures of us, how’s that.”  Yes we do. You are not the Stazi, KGB or Gestapo in a dictatorship although it is starting to feel that way to me. Maybe we always were and I am just waking up to it.

posted by: NewHavenerToo on November 18, 2010  9:56pm

This is SICK!

Thank God I got my new camera.  NOW I want to film all that happens with the police.  New Haven Police.  You’re on Notice. I WILL FILM you!

And by the way, if you’re doing your job the way you should be doing it, then you shouldn’t have a problem doing it on camera.

posted by: Hamden on November 22, 2010  1:07am

Mr. Luna -

You weren’t arrested, you were kidnapped and help against your will. 

I am sorry you didn’t consult an attorney or if you did he/she gave you some bad advice.  You didn’t HAVE to agree to a plea right then and there - you could’ve asked for a few days or a postponement to consult with an attorney. 

Lawyers would have been standing in line to represent you on this one, not to mention the possible civil suit you still have the right to file. 

Cops lying, destroying evidence, lying on a police report, etc. are enough for you to land a decent settlement as well as teach these clowns that they don’t have the right to push citizens around like they do.

posted by: Anon on November 23, 2010  11:08am

To Hamden,

He can still sue. He should at least consult and take this article with him to the lawyer.

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