Mayor On Cop Videos: “This is America”

Message to cops: Citizens have a right to film you on the job.

In fact, downtown cops may soon start carrying cameras, too. On their heads.

The mayor and the police chief sent that message Monday in the wake of new charges the police mishandled arrests and violated people’s rights amid a crackdown in the entertainment district.

Mayor John DeStefano and Chief Frank Limon also cautioned the public not to jump to conclusions about what happened in two controversial incidents over the past week based on video snippets that made the press.

They made the comments as criticism mounted over a raid of a private party early Saturday morning at the the Elevate Lounge at club Alchemy as part of “Operation Nightlife,” the new beefed-up patrols of sometimes-violent Crown Street night spots and their environs formed in response to a recent shootout between fighting clubgoers and the police.

Chief Limon offered new details Monday about the incident. He also said that he plans to remind his officers that citizens have a right to take videos of them—and that he’s considering equipping his entertainment district cops with “head” cameras of their own.

Police arrested five Yale students, including one who ended up in the hospital after officers Tased and subdued him. Police said the student was kicking and punching three officers. Eyewitnesses said a cop punched and kicked and Tased the student with no provocation beyond a request to make a phone call, while other students were threatened with arrest if they used cell phone cameras or sent text messages, according to this story and this story in the Yale Daily News.

“It was beyond overreaction. They were like storm troopers,” claimed John Carta, attorney for the club’s owner, Rommerro Farrah. Click here to read a letter he sent Monday to the police chief.

The incident occurred a week after similar complaints followed the arrest of a Quinnipiac University student who was video-recording an arrest outside Toad’s Place. The video captured both a bouncer and a cop ordering him to put away his cell phone camera. Chief Limon said the student was arrested not for taking the video, but for disobeying police commands and interfering with an investigation and with his friend’s arrest.

“The video evidence certainly suggests that people are being harassed for trying to record the police,” Alderman Michael Jones, whose ward covers the heart of the Yale campus and other portions of downtown, said in an email Monday. “I understand that officers don’t want to be crowded on narrow sidewalks with observers, particularly those who are friends of their suspects, but many of the comments recorded were specifically directed towards the presence of the cameras and not the fact that people were in close proximity to the officers.

“If this is in fact the case, then we have a major problem on our hands. Not only are we talking about a potential violation of civil liberties, but capturing police misconduct on film has awakened our communities in several instances and has repeatedly been a catalyst for much needed change—or at least social action… The best police officers should want their work to be filmed. Not only do witnesses and others have a right to film these events, but film provides a transparent way to escape both unreliable witnesses and irresponsible police officers. And when one or two police officers conduct themselves inappropriately, it makes the job much more difficult for every other officer because one officer’s actions can undermine the public trust between an entire community and its police force.”

The mayor and police chief said they agree that citizens have the right to record events in public.

“This is America.  Anyone can film anytime they want, including you, me and the PD while on duty,” Mayor DeStefano stated. “It is not my understanding that this is why the QU student was arrested.

“That all said, these films must be viewed in context. It’s like walking into a movie theater after the film has begun. We don’t know what went on before, what’s happening behind, and it’s a two-dimensional portrait.”

Chief Limon said he has ordered internal investigations into both incidents. Yale officials, too, are investigating the Alchemy/Elevate incident.

“Assume you’re being videotaped all the time when you’re out there,” Limon said he has been telling his officers.

Limon said he has upcoming in-service training sessions for his rank and file will include an “update about legal procedures on interfering and videotaping issues.” He’s also looking into putting together a “policy to let officers know what are the exceptions” to when citizens can take video.

Meanwhile, the chief said, he’s exploring the use of “head cams” similar to those worn by cops in London. He’s considering using them in the entertainment district to film arrests, so that the public won’t be left having to weigh an officer’s written account versus the charges of an onlooker or arrestee. Some other U.S. cities, such as Cincinnati, San Diego, and San Jose, have also begun experimenting with head cams.

“Anybody Else? Anybody Else?”

Top Yale administrators held meetings throughout the weekend about the early Saturday raid throughout the weekend and communicated with students. The administrators vowed to investigate the incident and offered suggestions on filing complaints with the city police department. They, as well as some students, started collecting eyewitness reports.

Meanwhile, Yale College Dean Mary Miller sent two campus-wide emails detailing plans for the investigation. She said the university will “develop a memorandum” with information such as “whether students should have had the right to use their cell phones while a police action is being conducted.” (The full text of the emails appears at the bottom of this story.)

The raid took place around 1 a.m.

Chief Limon Monday called the raid a “compliance check.” He “absolutely” denied a report in the Yale paper that the raid took place because of a report hours earlier about underaged drinking. Also Saturday, a crew of city cops and state liquor control agents reported finding violations at Libras at 56 Main St., which they closed; and at Manhattans Bar at 489 Forbes Ave., which they cited.

“It was a random inspection [at Alchemy/ Elevate]. When we started this operation, we told people what we were going to do. Clubowners were aware of it. We were going to inspect bars. That is the strategy we had in the beginning. That’s how we selected places,” Limon said.

Once inside, police said, they saw 256 people crowding an area for which legal occupancy is only 150. (Those were updated numbers as of Monday.) They also found several fights taking place right outside the club. The SWAT team was called in.

The occasion was a private party (called “The Morse-Stiles Screw”) held by two of Yale’s residential colleges.

The cops arrested five Yale students in the raid on charges ranging from illegal possession of alcohol by a minor to interfering with police, disorderly conduct, and assault on police officers. One of the arrested students ended up at Yale-New Haven Hospital being treated for injuries.

Click on the play arrow to the video near the top of the story to watch a clip from the raid posted on the Yale Daily News website. Toward the end of the video an officer near a man on the ground is heard yelling, “Anybody else? Anybody else?”

“While I’m still learning more details about what happened this week, I’m deeply troubled by what I’ve learned so far,” Alderman Jones said Monday. “It seems like the way in which officers entered the club and communicated with the occupants inherently escalated tensions and created an atmosphere where the occupants felt unsafe and unable to ask officers simple questions. Given the fact that police officers entered the club with SWAT gear—and given the fact that many clubgoers would be shocked and probably drunk at 1 a.m.—the police should be trained to defuse these situations to efficiently do their work. There was little reason to intimidate the occupants just to check their IDs.”

Thomas MacMillan PhotoLimon said the media and public should be focusing on the actions of the clubowner.

“It’s unfair to the community that we can’t hold these clubowners accountable,” he said. “I’ve seen what it can do. We need to hold these clubowners accountable. Our investigation was not targeting anybody but the operators of these clubs.” As a Chicago cop, Limon led the investigation in a tragedy in a similarly overcrowded nightclub where 21 people died in a panicked stampede.

Carta, the club owner’s attorney, claimed his client did nothing wrong. He said he was still “researching” the occupancy requirements, but said that the club had had “four, five, six hundred” people at past events with no problems. “Never a problem. The city never cared. I don’t know what the official capacity is,” Carta said.

City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts discounted that version of events.

In 2006 the fire marshal’s office inspected the space and gave the club its legal occupancy: 350 for the first floor, 150 for the separate club (Elevate) on the second floor, where the party took place, according to Smuts.

“They have a legal obligation to know what their occupancy is; to post it, which it wasn’t; and to abide by it,” Smuts said. “This operator was really putting people’s lives at risk.”

Carta claimed the police overreacted and received no resistance during this weekend’s raid: “They raided the place dressed like SWAT team members brandishing weapons. It’s overcrowded? Get rid of the people who are overcrowding.”

At one point, the owner’s brother, who is in his 40s and “had a suit on,” was “forced to the ground to a gun. It was a nightmare,” Carta said. “It was beyond overreaction. They were like storm troopers. One of the descriptions I had: People were on the floor. These policemen with SWAT uniforms marching around, brandishing their weapons. They asked one person, I think he was a Yale student, for an ID. I think the kid was Hispanic or something. They said, ‘That’s not good enough for the United States.’ It just went way, way over the top. And this was for over capacity?”

Click here to read the police department’s full release on the incident.

QU Blues

The accusations about cell phone restrictions at Elevate echoed a charge from a separate incident: The weekend before last, the police detail also made arrests outside Toad’s Place.

An officer was filmed threatening and swearing at a Quinnipiac University student for filming the incident with a cell phone, which he has a legal right to do. The officer is captured on video ordering the student to put away the phone/camera and to leave. The student was subsequently arrested; the police said he was “interfering.” Read about the incident here; watch the video at left.

Chief Limon Monday said the video leaves out some crucial facts: The student arrested had been inside the bar with a drunken friend who assaulted somebody. The police were trying to investigate. The student allegedly kept bothering the police and refusing orders to back away, to leave them alone to do their job.

“He was not arrested for electronically recording what was going on there. His actions and the words and the statements that he made interfered with the officer and created an officer safety issue,” Limon said.

Even though no one involved has filed a formal complaint, Limon said, he referred to matter to internal affairs because he wants to get to the bottom of it. He did the same with the Yale incident, he said.

This is the second weekend that the police have swarmed the Crown Street bar district to crack down on club violations and quality-of-life crimes as part of “Operation Nightlife.”

The previous weekend, police stopped 47-year-old Amtrak engineer Mark “Big Tone” Maloney on his motorcycle on Crown Street as part of the crackdown one evening. Maloney claimed one of the officers hit him, handcuffed him, illegally searched him, and threatened to “crack” his “fucking skull”—over what turned out to be a noise violation, for which he received a ticket. Maloney admitted his motorcycle is loud. Chief Limon, who happened to be in the district, promised to look into the matter. Read about that here.

What Yale’s Dean Wrote

Following is the text of two campus-wide emails Yale Dean Miller sent this weekend about the Alchemy/Elevate incident:


October 2, 2010


To Students in Yale College:

I write to you regarding the events of last night on Crown Street.

The masters, deans, and I know you have serious concerns about the reported behavior of the New Haven Police as the dance at Elevate was drawing to an end. We take these reports seriously. Let me assure you that all the students involved are safe.

Collecting the facts about last night and figuring out the best way to respond to the larger issues will necessarily take some time, and we ask your patience with that. But we cannot and will not wait to have discussions among ourselves, share experiences, and offer support to one another. 

If you would like to share your observations with me and other administrative colleagues, please send them to Marichal Gentry, Dean of Student Affairs ( We are collecting them in order to build a comprehensive picture of the events that unfolded. I have already been in touch with New Haven authorities, and I will be assembling a team of administrators to reach out to them.

For anyone who wishes to do so, there are formal channels for filing complaints about police behavior and actions.  Our experience is that the leadership of the New Haven Police will take any complaints very seriously and will conduct, in response to them, an internal investigation. If you wish to pursue this avenue, information is available on the New Haven Police web site. 

Your masters and deans are available to you, along with a wide array of other persons and resources, including Mental Health counselors at the new Yale Health Center, which is located at 55 Lock Street.  You may reach a counselor at any time by calling 203-432-0123. 

I rely on you to turn to other members of the Yale community. I want to let you know that we are supporting the students who were arrested in every way we can.  I know that you will be supportive of them and of each other.  As always, the safety and well-being of our students is our paramount concern.

Yours truly,
Mary Miller



October 3, 2010

To Students in Yale College:

President Levin and I met tonight with the Masters and Deans of the colleges whose students were most involved in Friday night’s incident on Crown Street.  The Secretary, Associate General Counsel and other senior administrators joined us to review the situation and to decide on next steps.  Marichal Gentry, Dean of Student Affairs, was assigned to be the lead liaison with Denise Blanchard, Captain of Internal Affairs of the New Haven Police Department, who will be overseeing the process which may lead to a formal investigation.

Dean Gentry will be reaching out to the Captain tomorrow to underscore that the University stands ready to assist in every way possible to advance an investigation. We will make space available on campus if that is desired and will facilitate the scheduling of any interviews needed by New Haven Police’s Internal Affairs unit.

The fact that criminal charges are pending against several Yale students needs to be factored into the timing of University processes since we would not want inadvertently to interfere with the legal defense of those students.  We will be developing a memorandum to address some of the issues raised by students, such as whether students should have had the right to use their cell phones while a police action is being conducted.

We know that many students have experienced a very disturbing event. We have heard their voices, and we are committed to pursuing an appropriate resolution of the issues.


Yours truly,

Mary Miller

Dean of Yale College





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posted by: Louis on October 3, 2010  11:52am

I’ve seen Yalies interact with the police downtown. While many are respectful, many others are drunk, arrogant, and think that they are above the law. They confuse any use of force by the police, even reasonable force, with “brutality.” I’ve heard them tell the police that their powerful Daddies will “have” their jobs. Mostly, I think that immature Yalies are upset when their drunken parties are interuinterrupted, and they are forced to obey the law like everyone else.

posted by: Bobby on October 3, 2010  1:22pm

It all started when a kid got hassled by the cops for having his phone out and recording operation nightlife.

At that point he was confronted and attacked. He never resisted arrest. He just said he had recent arm surgery and that the police were really hurting him the way they were twisting his arms. At that point he was beaten and tazered, ended up in the hospital. There’s no excuse for doing that to anyone in this country.

posted by: Andrew Giering on October 3, 2010  2:00pm

Louis, your comments don’t really distinguish Yalies from the many other college students who drink downtown, or from the bratty townies from the Valley and shoreline who also frequent Connecticut’s only legitimate club district. There are a few bad apples in any bunch, and police tend to find people at their worst.

In any event, in my experience the police downtown are often loud and obnoxious—they have no problem spewing F-bombs at onlookers but have a real hard time listening. Any real dialogue must recognize that neither the police nor the public are infailible, and classist cheap shots against Yalies are a step in the wrong direction.

posted by: Concerned New Haven Resident on October 3, 2010  2:26pm

First of all the facts in the story are completely incorrectly reported. Go read the Yale Daily News version and listen to the interviews again… Secondly the “fights” reportedly happening outside of the club that allegedly prompted the raid according to this article were not involving Yale students if they were in fact happening at all. The police were tipped off that there was a private Yale party going on where underage drinking MIGHT be taking place. This fact is true, and if the police are using “Operation Nightlife” to try to curb down on club related violence (as they claim to be) then they are targeting the wrong crowd and wasting tax payers dollars in the process since Yale students are never parties in the shooting incidences etc that plague New Haven. Finally I find it mildly disturbing that the “overcrowding” of the club and the potential to have deaths compared to the Chicago incident on account of a panic prompted the police to enter the building wildly drawing semi-automatic rifles and yelling at all of the kids to get down on the floor….. that response in no way would ever have the potential of causing a panic right? (hope you sense the sarcasm)

posted by: Steve on October 3, 2010  2:42pm

Think of the massive amount of taxpayer money the city spent to shut down a student party, which has nothing to do with the recent spate of downtown violence. 

One might read the stories at to get the student version of the story.  The students were originally told that the raid was because of predicted under-age drinking. However, students report that the club had tough security in place and that despite all the money spent, the police arrested exactly one student for underage possession of booze. 

Today the police have changed their story and say the problem was an over-crowded room. In that case, shouldn’t you shut down the club and arrange an orderly exit?  Instead, the police forbid anyone from leaving the “dangerously overcrowded” club.  The police came in full battle-gear bullet-proof vests, semi-automatic weapons, etc.  Students who tried to legally photograph the proceedings were detained and then beaten when they refused to comply.  Students report that a student was Tased and beaten, and that when done the police looked around and screamed “Who’s Next”?  Students who were not drinking were detained (in one case a foreign student was held overnight in jail) for the non-crime of not having ID. 

The article stakes that a mixed-age private party is illegal and justifies the raid.  Really, I can’t have a party at my house with both adults and non-adults were only the adults drink? 

Photographing the police is not “interfering” and it is clearly illegal to arrest and detain students for the “crime” of photography.  As in the video above, the police are simply breaking the law and then threatening anyone who complains.     

This is a huge lawsuit waiting to happen, which could cost city taxpayers $100,000s of dollars.  Some Yale kids are surely snotty jerks, especially when drunk, and I am sure that some of them got stupidly mouthy when told that their civil rights had been suspended by men with guns, but you don’t actually give up your civil rights because the town police don’t like you.

The mayor made a stupid statement this week blaming college students from QU, SCSU and so forth for downtown’s problems.  These non-Yale students are the region’s future middle class, future city residents and workers—or else not.  Their choice.  Do we really want to scapegoat them for violence that they don’t cause? 

The Yalies are mostly leaving town after graduation, but a few of them stay to found fast-growing job-creating businesses (Higher One) and many of them tutor and volunteer in our public schools.  “Welcome to New Haven, thanks for your help, now let us (quite literally) bust your head open.”

No, I am not arguing that college kids don’t have to follow the law.  But by all accounts the students at this party were overwhelmingly law-abiding and yet they were all terrorized.  I am arguing that the police also have to follow the law.  Verbally and physically attacking college kids is bad for the city budget (in terms of current resources and likely lawsuits) and it is a stupid long-run strategy for a city that needs smart folks to stay in town.

posted by: Prof on October 3, 2010  3:31pm

I teach at Yale, and the previous comment is right. Many students assume that all rules are for someone else, and that any authority figure can be ignored. I can well imagine they just ignored what the police told them to do, and then it got bad. Even the student complaints are silly: being forced to wait is not “bruality.”

posted by: john on October 3, 2010  3:44pm

aggregious or egregious? “sic” or not to “sic”?

posted by: Ben Stango on October 3, 2010  3:54pm

For those who witnessed the Morse-Stiles Screw raid, filling out a police report is a top priority. Visit and select the “Citizen Complaint Form” under the section entitled “Police Department Related Forms.” This is the most effective means of ensuring that the police listen and respond.

-Ben Stango

posted by: kamb on October 3, 2010  4:27pm

I love it! It’s out of control downtown with shootings, bar fights, and assults, and now Yale Students are upset and claiming brutality? Please, Go ... to your social clubs and drink.

I feel so bad for New Haven Cops. I’ve seen the drunks downtown. I’ve seen the fights and disrespect for law and order.

When the good people in society dont back up their officers, who are trying to get rid of obnoxious drunks who want to fight everyone, then we as a society might get what we wish for . . chaos!

posted by: @Louis on October 3, 2010  5:28pm

Yeah, but when you have a kid being badly beaten up and tased by the cops for doing NOTHING, you’ve gotta take a step back — be he a Yalie, a QU student or anybody, really. These kids were not telling the police that their parents would take their jobs away: they were at a party, having fun, not illegally. They were confused and scared, their party broken up by a SWAT team with assault rifles.

The fact that the police want to aggressively assert their force on the population of this town as shown by the raids, armed police on the streets and beatings that they are doling out to the population shows that they are interested only in staying in power and intimidating townsfolk. They do not care about Freedom. The ... officers of the YPD and NHPD who think it’s okay to beat the c*** out of innocent people, or people who don’t deser (which happens on a regular basis and has been happening for years) are no better than the criminals who knife and gun people on Crown St.

posted by: Steve on October 3, 2010  7:08pm

To the “Prof” and others who say that the Yale students are complaining about nothing: go watch the video posted on the YDN website.  It is poor quality; I had to watch several times to get what was going on.

In the video, students are peaceably watching something going on and you can hear their conversation as they watch: “he is f-ing unconscious ... they killed [him] ... is he moving?” And then at the end some officers rise up off the kid they have been beating and start screaming wildly, repeating “ANYBODY ELSE?”  “WHO’S NEXT?, WHO’S NEXT?”  “ANYBODY ELSE?”
Read Bobby’s comment above.  This witness says the kid who was beaten unconscious committed the “crime” of photography, followed by a complaint that his recently operated-upon arm was being hurt by the police who seized him.  One can imagine that he struggled to get his injured arm free.  So (according to many witnesses) four officers beat him completely unconscious, sent him to the hospital. 

Read the YDN comment by the student who had his shirt ripped and arm bruised for the crime of politely asking an officer if he should put his phone away.

Don’t believe it?  You can see plainly in the video above an officer breaking the law, in broad daylight, by arresting a student for photography. 

Also, the police are quoted quite clearly by YDN reporters as saying (in the early Sat. AM hours) that the raid was prompted by a earlier “tip” as to likely underage drinking and that it had been planned for hours.  That is, it was not in response to suddenly discovered over-crowding.  That story only shows up on Sunday.

This was a peaceful, legal, alcohol-law respecting private party.  And if you are a New Haven taxpayer, you are going to pay for the lawsuit.

posted by: bulldog on October 3, 2010  7:36pm

I for one am glad to see the enforcement being sspread around, esspecially in the downtown area.  when police do enforcement in the neighborhood bars ssome ressidents are quick to cry racissm.  yaliess are not above the law but neither are the police.

posted by: John Wysolmerski on October 3, 2010  8:59pm

This whole affair is disturbing.  In the wake of the shooting several weeks ago, the mayor and the police chief pretty much said that they were going to try to harass the clubs out of downtown.  So, it is clear that they have decided to try to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for college students in order to try to starve the bars out of business.  This was a private party and by all accounts the club owners were being very careful about enforcing the drinking age rules. given the recent crackdown.  Thus, it must have been a conscious and calculated decision to enter the bar in this aggressive manner, which in no way was required to check ID’s at a party organized by one of the Yale residential colleges.  The whole idea must have been to generate as unpleasant as possible an experience so that future Yale business would stay away from the club district.  Same thing with Quinnipiac students and targeting the shuttle bus from campus.  While this does deliver a lot of students, it also keeps kids from drinking and driving and has likely saved lives.  So, it is curious for the police and mayor to complain about this service that Quinnipiac wisely offers its students.  Anyway, it seems that our leaders have given the police license to use whatever thug-like tactics they can come up with to close down the district instead of trying to transform it into something more controlled and instead of coming up with a way to keep gang activity from mixing in with a local college and young adult social scene. 
Anyway, there is a difference between talking back and being violent.  It is not clear that in this case, the students involved were even being belligerent.  I, personally, do not pay city taxes to arm a group of men and women to protect us, if they cannot suck it up and answer legitimate questions about why they are detaining some students at a private party.  I would think that their training involves learning how to diffuse interactions with inebriated young people so that situations do not escalate towards violence.  Hence, as I said before, this whole thing smells like it was meant to create a sensation and the aggressive attitude was/is a cynical tactic.  Finally, there is not any law against photographing police, especially if they appear to be acting inappropriately. 
I feel strongly about this especially since my son, a city native who spends some of his free time tutoring in city schools, is a Yale junior, and was supposed to go to a similar party next weekend.  Hence, he could very well have been in that room.  No student from Yale, Quinnipiac, or any other local college should have to put up with what happened in that club.  It was way over the top for the circumstances.  No citizen, period, should be treated this way by police as a tactic to create economic stress on legitimate businesses.  This is devolving into a stupid response to the recent gun battle and we should all let our elected officials know that we are not OK with it.

posted by: bbearlaw on October 3, 2010  11:21pm

To properly address this issue, we need to step outside of the bubble that is New Haven. In any bar district in major cities around the country, police presence is an inherent element of the geographic area. As far as patrons following the instructions of police, regardless of where you are, you must follow police instructions the first time they are given in light of a raid or an evacuation. When police are required to handle large groups of people, they will almost always be verbally aggressive, and the best advice would be to comply and file complaints in writing at the appropriate time. This is a fact of life that exists for every citizen irrespective of class or where they attend college.

posted by: MC '12 on October 4, 2010  1:04am

I’m a Yale student and my background is just about as far from the ivory tower as it gets.  Often, the attitudes of some of the more privileged of the student body annoy me to no end, and I wouldn’t entirely blame the NHPD for taking pleasure in (proverbially) slapping them on the wrist.

NONE OF THAT justifies in ANY way the incomprehensible disregard of basic civil rights or lack of respect for our status as human beings that occurred on Friday.  I was completely sober for the dance, and was right in the middle of almost everything that happened.  From rude, unnecessary intimidation tactics, both verbal and physical, to outright unjustified brutality, the NHPD have a tall bill to pay.  Being forceful and getting peoples’ attention is one thing.  Tasing a student that by no stretch of the imagination attacked one officer, much less three, is very much another.  Never mind the amount of attention they paid to trying to make sure the event couldn’t be documented…

On Friday night the New Haven police not only broke the law, but also widened the real and perceived divisions between the town and the university that many have been trying to close for years.  I only hope that we can use this event as a tool to reform the conduct of the NHPD for *everyone*.  Yale students have to deal with this shit only occasionally.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the NHPD as the only enforcement agency downtown.

posted by: Christopher James on October 4, 2010  6:20am

I am horrified with what is going on in New Haven. Personal freedom is at stake. From today I am boycotting all downtown businesses, and will no longer buy anything their. I will be bringing a brown bag in from home for lunch.

I suggest all students do the same. I also suggest that all other downtown workers join in. If economic pressure is put on New Haven I’m sure the Mayor will be forced to halt his anti-civil liberties activities.

I also hope to see a large and peaceful demonstration on the Green. This behavior must not be allowed to continue.

posted by: UNH '09 & lifelong resident on October 4, 2010  7:07am

New Haven Police are not promised to make it home everynoght! With lax nightclub security, Police have to prepare for the worst situation! A megaphone cannot and will not control a crowd if they become unrulely. Before judgement is cast, examine all facts! Understand that NHPD is making attempts to rid downtown of foolishness and unfortunately they have to now attack owners of establishments and promoters so that everyone can work on enjoying a safe environment!

posted by: Walt on October 4, 2010  8:13am

In general I support most police actions,  but it seems taking pictures of an arrest should be not be cause for arrest of the picture taker.

The cops are justly irritated by the owners and customers of the New Haven bars,and frustrated by the lack of actions by New Haven big-shots.  It also appears certain that the owners of this are law or reg violators.

Seems to me the owners of the Downtown bars are still being treated with kid-gloves,  but looks like City leaders are finally getting primed to take long-needed legal actions to close or fine the worst ones.

We shall see, but let the picture-taker   go free and apologize.  Arresting him could wind=up as a grievous error

It is not up to Yale,  but to the State and City to define legalities or enforce laws and regs.

.  .  .

posted by: New Haven Resident on October 4, 2010  8:26am

It looks like a similar thing happened at Toads Place last weekend involving Quinnipiac students.  Why didn’t this make the news?


posted by: if on October 4, 2010  8:54am

I wonder if we will ever read an article that will not identify people by their race, neighborhood of origin, sexual orientation, political view AND school association. I am sickened by the pretense that such information is news and not just a way to separate those of have, from those of have not.
If it was wrong doing in part of the police, whether the youth were from this school or that school, it does not matter.
Let’s all take a step back and really ponder about our own internal mechanisms that when externalized produce racism, homophobia, Yalephobia, ageism, misogyny, Eastrockphobia, etc… Particularly when we pretend to write balanced and fair articles.

posted by: Nh resident on October 4, 2010  8:59am

The problem stems from the decision to create a commando “SWAT” team in response to the shooting two weeks ago.  While perhaps politically useful for the mayor and the chief (‘Look! We’re doing something!”) it is an inappropriate response to the problem at hand.  What is needed are more cops with better info about what’s going on, NOT more heavily armed cops with twitchier trigger fingers. 

If a club is overcrowded and one can reasonably suspect underage drinking, turn on the lights and check peoples’ IDs.  You don’t need riot gear to pull off that operation.

posted by: DWSCMT E-Board on October 4, 2010  9:03am

Dear Downtown Partners,

Please save the date and join us this Tuesday evening at 6pm at the Omni
Hotel in New Haven for a Downtown New Haven Quality of Life and Security
October 5th

The panel will consist of:

Bitsie Clark – Alderperson, Ward 7

Lt. Rebecca Sweeney - District Manager, NHPD

Rena Leddy – Executive Director, Town Green Special Services District

Rub Smuts - Chief Administrative Officer, City of New Haven
Kelly Murphy – Economic Development Administrator, City of New Haven

The discussion wil be moderated by the Downtown-Wooster Square Community
Management Team. Please join your neighbors and discuss the recent issues
affecting our downtown.

If you have any questions, please feel free to the DWSCMT executive board at
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Downtown-Wooster Square CMT

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posted by: Bruce on October 4, 2010  9:54am

Wow, I have really mixed feelings about this.  I think it is absolutely critical for the police to put an end to the dangerous and violent climate that has long existed in the downtown nightclub scene.  However, fighting and tasing college students does not seem to be a productive approach.  People have every right to record these incidents.  Police should behave in such a way that they would welcome a video record of their activities.

Also, it seems irresponsible of Ms. Miller not to even mention the serious problems underage drinking and dangerous over-crowding of a bar.  Her focus was ONLY on helping the students in their brutality case.  Doesn’t she have some responsibility to address her students’ illegal behavior?

posted by: mr. t on October 4, 2010  10:00am

I hope the students take these videos to Citizens Television to play so the LOCAL folks can see what their P.D. is up to.
I had a similar case in West Haven years ago, and after they played our video, the WHPD got the message loud and clear

posted by: King John is to Blame on October 4, 2010  10:03am

Blame the King, not the Police.
John DeStefano has turned a blind eye to the crap going on down town for years. Now he charges the Police with the task of cleaning it up overnight.
This is one taxpaying resident and business owner who is glad this operation is going on, but sorry the Police are forced to do it in the manner it is being done.

LT Reddish is a GREAT cop and I believe he wouldn’t use force without it being necessary, hope he wasn’t seriously hurt.

To all the Yalies, a little hint: When Police tell you to stop doing whatever you are doing, Stop doing what you are doing. Simple.
Then go home and right a paper about all the injustices in New Haven, with an arm that wasn’t broken by the Police.

posted by: ThirtySomethingTaxPayer on October 4, 2010  10:22am

Someone doesn’t get it.  When I first heard of the Operation Nightlife, I fully supported it.  I thought, “Good.  The scene on Crown St at 2am is out of hand and I’m glad they’re going to step up the police presence”.  However, this is ridiculous.  I wanted them to go after the thugs who carry guns, start fights, and throw bottles off the parking garage.  I’m not concerned about Yale kids (or any peaceful college kids) having a private party; in fact that’s the crowd that is good for downtown bars.  As a taxpayer, I’m not concerned about rounding up underage college kids for drinking when they are walking or taking a shuttle back to where they live - we don’t need a sting operation or gun-toting SWAT team for that.  I would have been happy for some of my tax money to have gone to increased police presence to deter thugs from bringing their guns to Crown St to settle scores; or to break up fights, or even better, prevent fights from happening just by having police present.  This isn’t what I expected when I heard about Operation Nightlife.

posted by: j on October 4, 2010  10:24am

@bbearlaw: “To properly address this issue, we need to step outside of the bubble that is New Haven.”

If only I could. I would step out of it, then pop it, and feel the weight of 1,000 cares lift off of my shoulders. Alas, that’s but a dream.

The reality is this: in New Haven, the PD routinely fails to enforce even the most basic laws concerning matters of public safety (especially traffic laws), actively contributing to a culture in which disrespect for the law is rampant. “...which is the way he wants it, well, he gets it.”

For that reason, the completely disproportionate reaction of the officer in this case utterly lacks credibility.

posted by: JB on October 4, 2010  10:31am

A bunch of unarmed college kids, only one underaged drinker and the only issue is overcrowding: doesn’t sound like a good allocation of resources to me.  Not to mention, what’s up with the ... officer at the end of the video?  Expect costly lawsuits….

posted by: JAK on October 4, 2010  10:45am

Until there is law, order, and peace on Crown st., I will not be patronizing the adjacent restaurants on weekend nights.  What does that look like?  Think SONO.

If you want to cause trouble don’t come downtown.  Keep up the good work NHPD!

posted by: john on October 4, 2010  10:51am

@bruce: i’m simpatico in general with your comments. but whatever we may think of the dean’s comments, it is clear that the burden of not of not exceeding capacity, and enforcing underage drinking laws, falls squarely on the bar. besides—how many violations of the latter type were actually issued in this instance?

posted by: nfjanette on October 4, 2010  11:20am

The rule of survival, which is quite different sometimes than the rule of law, is very simple: when confronted by an officer of the law, be overtly respectful, obey whatever orders are issued and otherwise keep your mouth shut.  An additional clarification for young budding attorneys and/or Yalies: this means you.  At such moments, it is not the time to argue - you will be on the losing end of any confrontation you create.  The time to dispute any facts is later, in an arena in which the rules are not slanted in favor of law enforcement officers that must be able to, if necessary, ensure forceful compliance in situations.

Once, long ago, I was young and foolish like so many of the people involved in the nightly recreation of Mardi Gras on Crown Street.  My interaction happened with Florida State Marshals, a special division of police that doesn’t really have an analogue in Connecticut.  I was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by the authorities looking for DUI.  The driver had not been drinking, which irritated the marshals, since they were specifically targeting DUI.  I was 18, had been drinking, and “knew my Constitutional rights”.  In retrospect, it’s amazing that I escaped with only a verbal beating in that confrontation.

The lesson, however, thankfully stuck.  So, when years later, I was confronted by East Haven police officers with hands on their guns, I was able to calmly communicate while not moving my arms in any way unseen by them that I was no danger to them or the bloodied woman next to me.  The guy they were looking for had just sped away from the violent attack I had just happened upon in progress - but they didn’t know that when they first arrived and for all they knew, I was a potential threat to the woman and them.  I don’t fault them for being careful, even if it was frightening to see how close they were to holding me at gunpoint.

Finally, I think people need to stop playing this game of Telephone with respect to repeating the reported details of the events.  The conflation and fueling of the story is not helping anyone, nor is portraying the police officers as Storm Troopers equipped for war.  Police officers don’t have to look pretty with neckties for the public, rather they have to use the equipment required for the worse possible situation at any unknown moment.  Wearing ballistic protection and carrying weapons doesn’t make them evil.

Let the facts come out through the proper investigative processes and then it will be possible to begin to understand the form judgments.

posted by: junebugjune on October 4, 2010  11:44am


I get your intent, but boycotting downtown businesses is not the answer. There are a lot of businesses downtown working like crazy to barely make ends meet in this recession and they had nothing to do with the behavior of the police in this case. 

We need to take this to the source, DeStefano, and the police.  This kind of police brutality is unacceptable no matter who the victim is. I hope that we will stand united as a city against this behavior and not let our differences divide us.

- - -
“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

posted by: Bob on October 4, 2010  12:10pm

A common comment I’ve read is that the cops should be going after “thugs.” is there a definitive look of a “thug?”  Please fill me in, because it appears that the common attitude is that the police should be enforcing laws on the thugs and not the “other people.”

posted by: robn on October 4, 2010  12:29pm

Allowing 256 people into an area with a legal capacity of 150 clearly puts them in danger and the NHPD was merely trying to keep everybody safe by, uhhh, kicking the cr@p out of them….

posted by: robn on October 4, 2010  12:52pm

The NHPD doesn’t need to bring in a SWAT team to clear out an overcapacitated room. They just need to bring up bright overhead lights and put on “Girl From Ipanema”. Guaranteed party killer.

posted by: Swatty on October 4, 2010  12:57pm

nfjanette great comment and spoken with wisdom.

Keep your hands on the wheel and speak when spoken to. Get on the ground if they tell you to hit the deck. Considering the issues we had in this area just last weekend a student would have to be pretty dull around the edges not to know that the cops are on alert.

Seems like this party should have been held on campus where the students have diplomatic immunity.

Whole thing should have been busted the moment there was a fire code violation.

Take it to Mory’s!

posted by: Cedarhillresident on October 4, 2010  1:00pm

posted by: Anon on October 4, 2010  2:33pm

There is nothing particularly heartening about what the mayor is saying about installing cameras on police.

First, the PD and city fights hard to keep anyone from accessing footage created or kept by them. It is almost never voluntarily produced unless it benefits their cases.

Second, that the city is offering this in response to Yale arrests, because it involves Yale only makes me more cynical, not less.

posted by: worried on October 4, 2010  2:49pm

I understand that NHPD puts up with a lot of dangerous crap out there and want to make it home to their loved ones at the end of shift but…
I have seen many “confrontations” ramped up by the officer responding.  Why does the NHPD have the right to swear and yell at people?  Is it effective?  It is totally unprofessional.  Start acting in a more professional manner and maybe you will get the respect you deserve.
No need to throw your weight around verbally you are carrying a gun/taser!  I’m quite frankly fearful of NHPD because of recent incidents I’ve seen in my neighborhood. Are the new officers too inexperienced??? Think life is like a video game?
I’m not knocking the cops because they are the ones I’m calling when I need help but maybe now that Yale is investigating this incident these unprofessional behaviors will be addressed.

posted by: Steve on October 4, 2010  2:59pm

So in the most recent (Monday pm) update, the police story has changed again.  Now, prior comments about underage drinking (including in a police press release yesterday) are no longer operative and this was only about being overcapacity and only aimed at the club owner.

Limon is now quoted: “Our investigation was not targeting anybody but the operators of these clubs.” 

This squares the story up with the actual absence of underage drinking and the actual presence of over-crowding.  Turns out the Yale students were telling the truth about those two points. 

But as so many commenters note: it makes the observed treatment of club-goers that much crazier.  Why were students prevented from leaving the overcrowded situation??  Why does it take a SWAT team to (as so many have said) turn the lights on and music off?  Clear the crowd and cite the owner, JOB DONE.  At least if the raid was really aimed at only the club owner, as Limon now swears it was. 

The more the police change their story, the crazier it gets.

posted by: Wow! on October 4, 2010  4:02pm

It’s amazing how people who live in glass houses throw stones! From your comments, Not ONE of you have a clue about the day to day activities, interactions, threats of violence or duties of a police officer. Officers are in a no win situation. Until they come to your aid when needed. Downtown is COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL EVERY BAR night. From the so called inner city “Thugs” to the privileged “College Student.” The lack of respect that a majority of these kids have (Or at least show) is clearly because of the way some of you think. We ALL have certain liberties until you act in a manner in which those liberties may be momentarily taken away. Most of you, probably have kids that are amongst the party goers who tell you “Their” version of how they were treated by the police. Not sharing with you their actions. I’m sure the police have no problem with the nightlife downtown. It’s the portion of the night that 1.)No one knows about or 2.) No one cares to talk about. Suggestion: all of you who say the police overreact to the downtown patrons and the well mannered Yale, QU and SCSU students….Pick one night, Thursday, Friday or Saturday and go walk the streets amongst the Non violent, Law abiding crowds at bar closing (Around 1:45-2:00 AM). After you’ve done that, THEN come back to this story and post how the NHPD overreacts.Until your willing to walk in someone elses shoes,maybe you should ALL hold off on being SO judgemental.

posted by: john on October 4, 2010  4:13pm

“Never a problem. The city never cared. I don’t know what the official capacity is,” Carta said.


posted by: goNHPD on October 4, 2010  4:31pm

People can be locked up for filming the police on video. You can not interfere with a police officer investigation. You can not delay, hinder, or obstruct a police officer during the course of his duties. This kids with the camera get real close to the police I have seen it to many time,kids shoving cell phone camera’s in a cops while he is arresting somebody not safe for you, the officer or the person he is arresting. 53a-167a Interfering with a police officer read that statute before knocking NHPD. And this kid hit 3 police officers what did you think was going to happen.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 4, 2010  4:41pm

posted by: Louis on October 3, 2010 12:52pm
I’ve seen Yalies interact with the police downtown. While many are respectful, many others are drunk, arrogant, and think that they are above the law. They confuse any use of force by the police, even reasonable force, with “brutality.” I’ve heard them tell the police that their powerful Daddies will “have” their jobs. Mostly, I think that immature Yalies are upset when their drunken parties are interuinterrupted, and they are forced to obey the law like everyone else.

So should not the police Obey the law also.or are they give a pass like this one.

Fired New Haven cop to get his job back
Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By William Kaempffer, Register Staff
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

NEW HAVEN — A former city police officer who was fired after calling out sick from work and causing a drunken scene at a downtown club last October will be getting his job back.

Jason Bandy, 24, who joined the force in 2008, had been trying to win back his job through arbitration. On Friday, as his case was scheduled to begin, the police union and city labor officials reached a settlement that converted the termination to a one-year unpaid suspension, followed by an 18-month “last chance” agreement that would cost him his job with no recourse if he runs afoul again.

Sgt. Louis G. Cavaliere said Bandy agreed to the terms.

“He wants to be a New Haven police officer,” said Cavaliere.

Even though the penalty was significant, he said, the agreement ensures he will have that opportunity to return to the job and prove himself.

City spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said, “Based on the facts available, decisions were made in the best interest of the city.”

Bandy got in trouble last October when, drunk, he allegedly urinated on the bathroom floor of the Center Street Lounge and cursed at an employee who objected. He subsequently flashed his badge at a bouncer and then refused to answer questions when an extra-duty police officer confronted him. As he left the bar, he allegedly kicked a pile of garbage and spat toward the bar, police said.

Police arrested him in December for second-degree breach of peace, disorderly conduct and interfering with police, and the police commission in January fired him. The criminal case remains pending, court records show, and Bandy last month filed for a special form of probation that would leave him without a record.

His problems continued in late January, however, when East Haven police responded to his mother’s house on a domestic call and sent Bandy to the hospital for an evaluation after learning he had threatened suicide, court documents show. His mother told police that he had an anger issue and he had trouble controlling it without medication. At the time, Bandy told police that he had stopped taking his prescription. He faces a disorderly conduct charge in that case.

Contacted later Monday and asked about the East Haven case, Mayorga said “everything was considered and discussed” before the agreement was reached. Part of the agreement, she added, requires Bandy to go through counseling and pass two “fitness for duty” exams with city doctors before he can return to work in January 2011.

Cavaliere said the union believed it had a strong case to win Bandy’s job back, but Bandy ultimately decided to take the deal rather than risk the arbitration panel upholding his termination.

It wasn’t the union’s position that Bandy shouldn’t have faced discipline, Cavaliere said, but rather that termination — or even the one-year suspension to which Bandy agreed — was simply excessive.

Bandy declined comment through the union. Contacted Monday, Jason Cutler, owner of the Center Street Lounge, also declined comment.

posted by: Judith Massini on October 4, 2010  4:56pm

Well mayor your “New Haven shock and awe” was a ridiculous statement to begin with. How dare you! .... You mayor have put your police in a very bad position and forced them to go into these bars to break havoc on everyone so you can harass owners and starve them out of business. The part of putting some of these guys out of business is ok with me, but to put your cops at risk is just awful. I heard mayor that you are out of the country. ... You certainly are not running this city and when you do it, it is poorly run. I don’t know if I should ask you to stop gallivanting around the world while this city is getting worse and worse. Or only hope someday you decide not to return. What have you done to this wonderful city? What have you done to our police department since Chief Lewis left? What have you done to the residents/taxpayers? What are you doing to your city employees? Mayor, you need to recognize you aren’t bigger than life and you aren’t re-electable. ...

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 4, 2010  4:59pm

posted by: nfjanette on October 4, 2010 12:20pm
The rule of survival, which is quite different sometimes than the rule of law, is very simple: when confronted by an officer of the law, be overtly respectful, obey whatever orders are issued and otherwise keep your mouth shut.  An additional clarification for young budding attorneys and/or Yalies: this means you.  At such moments, it is not the time to argue - you will be on the losing end of any confrontation you create.  The time to dispute any facts is later, in an arena in which the rules are not slanted in favor of law enforcement officers that must be able to, if necessary, ensure forceful compliance in situations.

These people obey and look at what happen.

And they even beat there own fellow cops who obey.

Fellow cops clobbered me after wife called 911 for help vs. thugs, NYPD Officer Larry Jackson claims

posted by: The Lorax on October 4, 2010  5:52pm

Oh, good. This is the first time I’ve ever seen documentation that the police actually do ANYTHING about loud motorcycles. Let’s ticket more loud motorcycles. ...

posted by: Dot Khan on October 4, 2010  6:09pm

Based on many years working at Toad’s, I correctly figured out that the reason the QU student with a camera was arrested was he had been involved in a fight inside Toad’s. I welcome that the police are planning to use cameras as well to catch what goes on from beginning to end.

posted by: nfjanette on October 4, 2010  9:51pm

These people obey and look at what happen.

We could trade video links back and forth - I can post ones that show police officers dealing with drunken patrons from bars and clubs or when they are pulled over for DUI.  That’s not the point.  It’s all about trying to get the odds in your favor for a good outcome to a bad situation.  Mouthing off isn’t going to help you when dealing with police officer, and if you shove or take a swing, all bets are off.

posted by: Mister Jones on October 4, 2010  11:14pm

Pay close attention to the video of the QU student being arrested outside Toad’s.  The cops at first appear to welcome the videotaping.  Things changed when the taper got in the cops faces while his friend was being arrested, before he was even cuffed, asking why he was being arrested.  Common sense says don’t get in a policeman’s face while he is trying to cuff someone, especially in a city where two weeks before a clubgoer shot at cops. 

The student taper was told to back off.  He stepped back but continued to engage the police. He refused to clear the area when asked, arguing that it was a public sidewalk. [The person yelling at him to stop recording appears to be a Toad’s employee not a cop.]  It’s no surprise that he was arrested. 

Imagine if a professional journalist had been recording instead of the student.  He or she would have kept a safe distance and not injected himself in the middle of an arrest.  Questions for the police would have been saved for after the arrest was complete.

Journalism 101:  The First Amendment does not provide immunity from crimes committed in the course of newsgathering.  This kid wasn’t arrested for recording the scene, he was arrested for his other actions while he was recording.

I’m usually not an apologist for cops, and am usually the first to complain about infringement of 1st Amendment rights.  It’s true that around the country recently, there have been a number of prosecutions for recording police in public settings.  This is not one of them.

posted by: ThirtySomething on October 4, 2010  11:37pm


When I used the word “thugs” I followed it with “who carry guns, start fights, and throw bottles”. I have no problem with a swat team being present to break up fights, deter someone from using a gun, etc. It doesn’t appear these yale kids were doing anything like that.  From what I’ve read their worst offense was that a few of them were underage. So what I mean by “thug” is someone who might physically harm another person… like the guys shooting at each other a few weeks ago. Its nothing to do with what they look like, rather how they behave.  I think a strong police presence is great. I just dont think the tip they were going on that night (“there may be some underage yale kids in Elevate”) supported the show of force they used.  If their main gripe was the overcrowding of the bar, there was no need to be so rough on the club’s patrons, the issue was with the club.  I know there are lots of great cops out there, hopefully this was just a one-off use of poor judgement.

posted by: concern on October 5, 2010  6:51am

BANDY BACK ON THE STREET OH MY what a shame and we the community pay our taxes to have someone like him back on the street hope it is not my area he is not ready yet to be back needs more training and how to handle him self the badge is to protect the citizens of New Haven not bar hop.

posted by: Gene Debs on October 5, 2010  7:36am

Now it seems the chief is launching an investigation. Meaning a couple of rookies will be put through the ringer because they did what they were told. The assistant chief was there, and someone told the swat team to show up. Let’s investigate the most inept management in NHPD history.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 5, 2010  9:20am

posted by: nfjanette on October 4, 2010 10:51pm
These people obey and look at what happen.

We could trade video links back and forth - I can post ones that show police officers dealing with drunken patrons from bars and clubs or when they are pulled over for DUI.  That’s not the point.  It’s all about trying to get the odds in your favor for a good outcome to a bad situation.  Mouthing off isn’t going to help you when dealing with police officer, and if you shove or take a swing, all bets are off.

Drunken patrons are different than someone who is not Drunk.These people were not Drunken and follow all orders as they were told to do so by the police.You are trying to justify police brutality.Look at the you tube again.Are you saying that this is not police brutality.

What would you call this.

White Cop Shot Himself And Blamed It On A Black Man

Bring on your youtube.

posted by: Ya-ya on October 5, 2010  9:28am

The NHPD admin is inept and instead of cleaning up the tough areas they took the easy way out with kids. They don’t pick up the phone, follow through with investigations and drop the ball on most arrests. They are concerned with bar hopping and girls and treat there jobs as an inconvenience. There obviously to scared to toto Poplar or NNewhallvilleand do there job. I can’t even get a call back from these guys. So I’m gonna just call the state and have them do it. How many Murders this year? Only thing I see is a bunch of empty promises and a rotatation of corruption. That great u arrested a bunch of lil kids. Go do some real work in the right neighborhoods. Blood Stains on the street and still don’t see any NHPD. Bring the Staties in and see how fast things change around here.

posted by: R on October 5, 2010  5:51pm

Fellow citizens: know your rights.
Cops: know OUR rights, and know that we know them; know that the criminals you were trying to crack down on weren’t college students, duh.
As a homeowner and taxpayer here, I have been pretty pro-cop, but this abuse of power is galling.