Chief Orders IA Probe Of Reporter’s Arrest

Markeshia Ricks PhotosThe state’s case was continued Monday against a reporter arrested while taking photos of a crime scene, while New Haven’s interim police chief ordered an internal affairs investigation into the case.

The reporter, David Sepulveda of the Independent, showed up at Superior Court on Elm Street on misdemeanor charges of interfering with police and third-degree trespassing, which carry penalties of up to a year in prison. New Haven police arrested Sepulveda on those charges Dec. 6 after they concluded that he had not responded quickly enough to their shouted orders to leave a spot across Whalley Avenue from where two pressure cookers had been left on the sidewalk.

Sepulveda, who denies the charges, plans to plead not guilty. He did not enter that plea on Monday; his case was continued until Jan. 19.

“I’m not offering a position as of yet,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Lindade. “When I do, it will be on the record and you will know.”

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information Monday issued a statement saying that Sepulveda’s arrest “raises serious questions about whether the New Haven Police Department takes these constitutional and statutory rights seriously. We respectfully urge the New Haven Police Department to evaluate its handling of the incident in question and to publicly affirm its commitment to protecting cherished First Amendment rights, including those of working journalists.” The Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists also issued this statement proclaiming it is “deeply disappointed” in the arrest.

On Monday Interim Police Chief Anthony Campbell ordered his internal affairs department to conduct an investigation into the case.

Campbell said in an interview that he wants both to “get to the bottom” of differing accounts of the incident itself as well as to review subsequent decisions by supervisors to approve the filing of criminal charges.

In discussing the officers’ initial actions, he stressed the highly volatile nature of the incident. He emphasized the officers put their lives at risk to approach a reporter who was too close to potential danger. The pressure cookers were left outside the Westville public library branch and across the street of a synagogue. Although the objects later were revealed to be harmless, at the time there was reason to believe that they might have been left there as an explosive device.

“Let’s say this had been a bad car accident and the reporter is in the area trying to get footage, and there’s no real danger of imminent harm to the reporter or the officers. Then there’s a little more discretion,” Campbell said. “Due to the volatile nature of these pressure cookers and what they could do —  and what we’ve seen in the past in Boston — it takes the officers to a heightened level of concern and anxiety. Those few seconds [when officers claim the reporter ignored a command to move], although they may be two or three seconds, may make the officer feel his command was not followed. We don’t want to get into a pattern of second-guessing” that.

After Sepulveda, who is 64 years old, was detained, officers immediately handcuffed him, threw him in a cruiser, removed his personal belongings, and then carted his camera away form the scene. And they charged him with the two offenses. Top Westville cop Sgt. Renee Dominguez was supervising that process.

A supervisor plays a key role in that subsequent process, Campbell said.

“That’s what supervisors are there for, to decide if an arrest is warranted, if there is an alternative … an arrest is a last resort. When we train them in community policing, we try to find all alternatives to an arrest. We really encourage them to try to see an arrest as a last resort,” Campbell said.


When asked at the scene about arrests being a last resort, the arresting officer, Christopher Landucci, who reports to Dominguez, responded, “It doesn’t work like that.” (See his full account of the incident in the above video.)

Landucci wrote the official report for the arrest, which the Independent obtained on Monday.

Some of what the report states is agreed upon by both Landucci and Sepulveda: Sepuveda was inside a “hot zone” where the police were investigating a potential explosive device near the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Harrison Street. Sepulveda took photos of the pressure cookers. “The library, nearby synagogue and homes within that area have also been evacuated.”

Landucci’s report states that only after officers led Sepulveda a block away from the scene and detained him in the rear of a police cruiser, “it was later revealed Sepulveda was a member of the press, who was previously notified there was an active crime scene, not deemed safe to enter.” Sepulveda, who was wearing a tag attached to a lanyard around his neck clearly identifying him as a member of the press, said he immediately notified the officers orally that he was working for the Independent taking photos of the scene.

The officers claim he tarried before responding when they yelled at him to move. Sepulveda said he immediately started backing up toward them and called out to them that he was doing so.

David Sepulveda PhotoNowhere in Landucci’s report is there any mention of the fact that police took possession of Sepulveda’s Canon 7D camera and sought to obtain his memory card.

As usual in an arrest, police took possession of the objects on Sepulveda’s person. They kept everything but the camera at the car. Sgt. Dominguez then took the Canon and could be seen carrying it while walking up and down Whalley Avenue. The Independent was informed that the police had the camera because they considered it to contain crucial “evidence” of Sepulveda’s “crime” of interfering with police. The evidence would show that he was indeed taking photos.

After a half hour, and after speaking with her own supervisors, Dominguez returned to the cruiser where Sepulveda remained handcuffed and detained. According to Sepulveda, Dominguez said she would return the camera but would like to keep the memory card. When he declined, she then asked to be able to view the photographs on the camera. Sepulveda consented, showed her the photographs. He received the camera back along with his other possessions upon his release.

An expert in policy-press relations and handling of cameras, Mickey Osterreicher, said Monday that Dominguez’s handling of the incident “certainly raises questions.”

Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, has helped departments in Georgia and Arizona develop protocols for dealing with journalists and with cameras. He has helped train police departments in Philadelphia and other cities on the issue. He currently services on an advisory committee to the International Association of Chiefs of Police reviewing public recording of police.

Police are within their rights to hold onto people’s property while they’re under arrest, Osterreicher said. What concerns him is that while Sepulveda’s other belongings were kept at the site, a sergeant took the camera and walked around with it. Osterreicher said that under Fourth Amendment search and seizure protections, the police did not have the right to look at photos or handle the camera without a warrant. “I would question their motives. When you secure any property, OK take the camera, put it in the trunk, lock the trunk. Walking up and down the street with the camera in your hand — what would happen if they dropped or damaged it? That’s not securing anything. It’s doing the opposite of that. What was the purpose of walking down the street with the camera? If the guy is in the back of the cruiser, then you would lock the camera in the trunk of that same cruiser.”

He also questioned the sergeant’s request for the memory card, and then to have Sepulveda show her his photos on the camera, while he was still handcuffed and in detention.

“There’s some coercion to that consent. It’s not absolutely voluntary as far as I’m concerned when somebody is being held in handcuffs,” Osterreicher said. There was an implied “condition” that returning the camera could hinge on showing the photos.

Osterreicher also disputed the argument that police can seize a camera from a reporter without a warrant because photos from the camera might help prove that a misdemeanor had been committed. The three-prong “exigent circumstance” test established by the courts for such seizures requires that there be probable cause that a “serious crime” — i.e., a felony, not a misdemeanor — has been committed, that the officer has a “good faith belief” that the camera contains evidence of that crime, and that the officer also has “a good faith belief that absent the seizure, that evidence will be lost or destroyed.” All three conditions must be satisfied, he said. Under no circumstances would “interfering” or “trespassing” misdemeanors be considered “serious crimes,” he continued. And case law has held that in dealing with reporters, as opposed to civilians, there’s not a “good faith belief” that photos will be destroyed: “A case involving a journalist whose sole reason of being present is to gather, document and disseminate news — the likelihood of a journalist losing or destroying the image he took is pretty low.” But even after such a seizure a warrant would still be required for officers to search the device.

In this case, according to Officer Landucci’s written report, Sepulveda acknowledged that he was indeed taking photographs.

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posted by: Noteworthy on December 19, 2016  5:26pm

There was zero reason for the reporter to be in the “hot” zone and obviously not following police directions. There have been photographers and reporters I’ve known who have been in the business for three decades, who have not been arrested, let alone had their equipment confiscated. Instead of trying to make yet another incident with the police, a mole hill into mountain like you did with “mope,” you might want to train your staff on how to cover stories without becoming part of the story. A good reporter NEVER becomes the story. NEVER.

posted by: T-ski1417 on December 19, 2016  6:19pm

“Landucci’s report states that a member of the bomb squad “had to redirect his attention from his task at hand as a bomb technical ... when he noticed [Sepulveda] was close. It should also be known [the officer] was fully outfitted in his bomb suit due to the close proximity to the pressure cookers.” Sepulveda said he did not see any officers nearby when he encountered the rice cookers and rushed to the other side of Whalley to take photos”

Sepulveda is lying by saying he didn’t see the bomb tech in the bomb suit.

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 19, 2016  6:32pm

Let’s start with the assumption that the police are NEVER wrong, because that’s what they think.
Holly Tucker’s police mistreatment was videotaped, but SHE is facing charges for a minor misunderstanding about a traffic directive.
Although young and slight, she showed signs of bruising and PTSD weeks after her being pulled out of her car and manhandled.
Was the officer in fear for his/her life???? That seems to be the refrain in a lot of these situations, but really, it was what Bill Saunders noted: anything less than what is demanded is perceived as disrespect and therefore punishable at the discretion of any one in uniform.
Is that really an acceptable standard?
Are we in Iraq or New Haven?
We know the federal gov’t has been dropping military weapons into local police forces. The only question is when do they start using them against civilians? (and thanks for leaving the tanks out of Wooster Sq. festivals).
Tasers are already killing people and should be banned. they were supposed to be an alternative to deadly force but have become a deadly force.
Community policing means more than putting lipstick on a pig - no pun intended.
Paul Bass has laid out a good case against police overreaction and failure to use arrest appropriately.
Once the War on Drugs is ended, maybe we won’t need so many police and we can focus on white collar crimes.

posted by: nero on December 19, 2016  6:35pm

Wow, Noteworthy: After reading this thorough analysis you insist on blaming the victim? The photographer was simply doing his job within the Constitution and all local statutes. He gets wrongfully arrested and it’s HIS fault? How do we know this, according to you? Because the photographer got arrested. You apparently believe that the police are right even when they’re wrong. Clearly it’s the police officers here who need remedial training, not the Independent’s photographer.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 19, 2016  7:00pm

Good god, enough with the authoritarian arguments that the NHI reporter deserved this police treatment and arrest. Without wanton behavior on Sepulveda’s part, (knowingly crossing a police line, steadfastly disobeying police orders, etc), the actions are well beyond the pale of acceptable behavior,—according to our American freedoms which most of us still hold dear.

Instead the substantive debate is what it means to society and civilization when a reporter gets arrested, (harassed, intimidated, demonized, ridiculed, etc) for just doing his or her job? Is that what we want in this country?

Sure a free press can be a royal pain in the ass, but could you imagine what America would be like without our dedicated news organizations?

Good on Acting Chief Campbell for launching an investigation. The real breakthrough would come if the obvious lies in the trumped up police report were prosecuted. Why is it okay for police officers to lie as cover for their actions?

posted by: duncanidaho645 on December 19, 2016  7:14pm

The police didnt secure the scene, case closed.  The supervisor failed to spread her crew out to protect the public.  What if someone had come through on a bicycle with their headphones on?  Shoot him?

Let the photographer off with a warning and retrain every police officer on how to deal with cameras….again.  Unfortunately this man’s civil rights were violated so it will be up to him whether he wants to sue or not.  If the justice department pushes this and loses they will leave NHPD wide open for a lawsuit.  In the future secure the scene and things like this will not happen.  There were more than enough cops there to do it.

posted by: Statestreeter on December 19, 2016  9:11pm

Arrests are a last resort Chief Campbell?  What dumb statement that absolutely doesn’t effect reality.

Cops also do not need a supervisors permission to make an arrest. Another dumb statement. Maybe this is why they require 5 years in a supervisory position supervising supervisor to be Chief. Something Campbell doesn’t have.

“That’s what supervisors are there for, to decide if an arrest is warranted, if there is an alternative … an arrest is a last resort….....We really encourage them to try to see an arrest as a last resort,” Campbell said.

So Campbell’s managing the streets and criminals technique is vastly different than how he manages situations with his employees. If an arrest is a last resort and you should try to find alternatives to accommodate lawbreakers than why would you give Asst.Chief Casanova a suspension when he has had a 20+ year career without incident. Isn’t a suspension a last resort? What about an alternative? He even apologized. It’s sad when ambition turns people into hypocritical political hacks.

posted by: Scamp on December 19, 2016  9:57pm

In the context of investigating the possibility of an impending terrorist attack, I believe the police acted in a justifiable way. There’s an abundance of Monday morning quarterbacking in this comment stream, but I bet not one of these thoughtful observations on our Constitutional rights was made within close proximity to anything appearing to be a bomb in a pressure cooker.

Many terrorist attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East have started out with a bomb as a tactic to draw in a police response, only to end with an assault of gunfire. How were the officers to know that he was crouching to get a better vantage point for a camera shot and not a gun shot? Indicting the officers on how they ARRESTED Sepulveda ignores that they didn’t have the benefit of mulling things over for hours or days, as Paul Bass and many of the commenters have.

As far as what happened AFTER the arrest (a word which is defined, btw, as “to stop”), I believe an investigation is fully warranted & will likely conclude that procedures and civil rights were violated. I can’t state enough, however, how critical it is to separate the arrest itself from the actions that followed.
Finally, there’s an air of “he’s a 64 year old white newspaper photographer who couldn’t possibly have deserved this treatment so those bully cops should have been nicer” that really smacks of white privilege. In the initial opinion piece Bass wrote about this, he bemoaned Sepulveda’s having been denied counsel from both an attorney and his editor. That’s absurd on both counts because a subject being detained at a crime scene has the right to neither. In all, he was detained for half an hour & then issued a summons for taking photos in the midst of an active investigation (of a possible BOMB!). Not an ideal situation, but nowhere near the end of the world, either. 

(Ed: who said David Sepulveda is white?)

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 19, 2016  10:23pm

Again. If he had a press pass like the one the NYPD gives out. He would not have had a problem.

Applicants must be a member of the media who covers, in person, emergency, spot or breaking news events and/or public events of a non-emergency nature, where police, fire lines or other restrictions, limitations, or barriers established by the City of New York have been set up for security or crowd control purposes, within the City of New York; or covers, in person, events sponsored by the City of New York which are open to members of the press.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 19, 2016  11:22pm

Nero - there is no victim.

posted by: Bill Smith on December 19, 2016  11:32pm

You were completely out of line when speaking to those officers at that scene. The audacity of you to think you are entitled to speak to the person arrested? It’s amazing that the officers of the New Haven Police Department actually trust you after you stick a camera in their face and then use the footage to betray them with trumped-up up bullet points in your next article where you attempt to use those bullet points to malign them. After you attempt to embarrass and disparage these officers, reports indicate that you have the nerve to show up to their Compstat meetings like you are the police department’s friend. You are a troll, nothing more. Your “cop of the week” story is a cowardly attempt to mask your utter contempt for people who have more courage and integrity than you. You attempt to make nice with the police department while you betray it. The officers would have more respect for you if you just admitted your disdain for them. It’s as if you lie in wait for the next sensational story so that you can “pounce” on the police. Enough already. What is it with your peculiar fascination with the police? Write about something else that’s going on in New Haven. I would be interested in a story like that. The stories about the department have grown tiresome.

posted by: Sincerity on December 19, 2016  11:52pm

This is another unfortunate incident the NHPD finds themselves involved in which could have been avoided. This is the result of lack of understandig the principles of Constitutional Law in “Search and Seizure”.

There is no question about whether the officers and Supervisors issuance of a Misdemeanor Infraction was inappropriate or appropriate but whenever Mr. Sepulveda’s camera was seized that’s when this matter went south.

The camera should have been secured in the trunk with the detainee/arrestee as was mentioned until a decision of charges were issued

Once Sgt. Dominguez proceded to walk away with Mr. Sepulveda’s camera as it was pointed out by Attorney Osstereicher she should have known she was in clear violation of Mr. Sepulveda’s “Fourth Amendment Rights”.

Every sworn member of the NHPD throughout his/her career has to go through hours of certification and re-certification pertaining to Search and Seizure laws in order to maintain the standing of a Police Officer in the State of Connecticut.

The correct thing to do is to order an Internal Affairs and Ethics investigation as Interim Chief Campbell is doing.

If the Ofc’s and the Supervisor(s) are found to have violated Mr. Sepulveda’s Fourth Amendment Rights then an apology should be offered. In the same breath if Mr. Sepulveda did interfere with the Ofc’s responsibility in securing a safe crime scene then the charge should stand as they deem appropriate.

Lastly, the Ofc’s and any Supervisor(s) who were on scene should be placed on notice by Chief Campbell they are to receive additional training in understanding the laws and principles of “Search and Seizure”.

posted by: Scamp on December 20, 2016  12:31am

@Editor…he certainly APPEARS white in the photo that precedes the text of this story (and in the duplicate of this photo and another that appears in the original coverage of the story)...and I’ve seen Paul enough to know that he IS white…My point was that the argument against the arrest takes on an air of privilege, and that it is being advanced by a white guy (Paul).

[Paul: You actually wrote “64-year-old white newspaper photographer.” That’s what I responded to. Yes, I am white.]

posted by: JaneAtPeopleAgainstInjustice on December 20, 2016  1:25am

AverageTaxpayer says it nicely in his/her comment “Good God, enough ...”

Re responding quickly to commands: Complaints in the comment section about David Sepulveda’s response to police commands reminded me of a similar scene in a documentary about Newark PD that Jelani Cobb did that aired on Frontline, on PBS, this past summer. 

In the documentary, police complain that someone they are detaining (who Cobb films) is not responding to questions and commands quickly enough and this somehow makes him more culpable, but it is clear to viewers, and to Cobb who asks them about it, that the detained man is responding as quickly as he can process the information.

The demand by police that people process commands at speeds that outstrip the ability of the brain/neuro/bio system to process information is a common one and constitutes abuse. It is used as a pretext for further action or to justify acts that have no good justification. It’s code talk - it’s saying something else.

Cobb’s doc:

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 20, 2016  1:28am

The most interesting item that came out of this story is the fact that Mr. Sepulveda is 64 years old…..

You don’t look it, my friend—you must be doing something right!

posted by: nero on December 20, 2016  1:28am

Noteworthy: Any American wrongfully arrested is indeed a victim.

posted by: JaneAtPeopleAgainstInjustice on December 20, 2016  2:22am

On becoming part of the story, you said: “There have been photographers and reporters I’ve known who have been in the business for three decades, who have not been arrested, let alone had their equipment confiscated.” “ might want to train your staff on how to cover stories without becoming part of the story. A good reporter NEVER becomes the story. NEVER.”

You’re conflating various principles.

You don’t want to inject yourself into a story. For ex., if you want a different story than you find and coax it selectively from quotes, bend facts or orchestrate events you’re injecting yourself into a story. Or if you break from your role as a journalist to lend a hand in a crisis situation (sometimes OK) but film yourself doing it and broadcast that for your own self-aggrandizement (not OK). 

Here, when a journalist is arrested doing his job it’s important not to conceal it or assume it’s his fault.

Readers have faith that if something newsworthy and important happens at a scene, the publication will report it. If readers learn of serious sins of omission, they lose trust in a publication.

Also, by not reporting it, the publication can inadvertently signal approval

Omission also leaves an incomplete picture of arrests of those recording police, and non-journalists arrested for this often face a much harder time addressing it. We need a complete picture of this in New Haven.

Many publications are adamant about publicizing a variety of incidents ranging from arrest to harassment because it protects the journalists and the news gathering process. 

I can think of many instances from WSJ to NHR of this kind of reporting.

There is no principle like the one you state, which essentially makes it the job of journalists to make sure government is satisfied with them at all times and assumes they are at fault when it isn’t.

You’re just mistaken about this

posted by: southwest on December 20, 2016  2:55am

To Bill Smith,it’s so amazing when other people rights are violated and not yours…oh what a mighty job police are doing until it happen to you ,your family members or a love one. To say that cops are always right is and understatement..Cops have assumed the attitude that they are always right because the system have allowed them to get away with so much wrong doing and they high five them on getting away with it so does other officers..yes law enforcement is a tough job for immature people who are always on a power trip it’s basically no different than any other job ..but the bad news is that because of some officers interpretation of the law can make and honest citizen life a nightmare just because they got the power to do it must always be checks and balances when it comes to Law Enforcement because some feels they can do anything they want as long as the system allow them to justify it beyond any means that is until it happen to them…the cops who believe they are always right and their counterparts are also is the one who took the job because it was passed on thur most of them by their last name only…it’s amazing how they say people hate cops but they are steadily applying for the job because of what their ancestors have told them about it ...kind of like how to get away with murder…all you got to do is say I felt threaten and have others in the system to justify your behavior..all cops are not bad it’s just the chosen few who choose to be rouge and when the system knowingly allows them to continue to get away with this behavior “policing will always be a problem…someone posted that’s why the officer called a supervisor to validate the arrest..hum ..supervisors were once and officer before promoted and worked with these same officers ..must I say anymore…cops must always be monitored for the good of society and the citizens who pay their salaries…only in law enforcement that people who pay your salaries can arrest you for what ever!!

posted by: T-ski1417 on December 20, 2016  6:53am

Col. N. Jessup

” And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to”

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 20, 2016  9:59am

This reminds me of the arrest of journalist, now attorney, Ken Krayeske in Hartford at Jodi Rell’s Inauguration day parade.
While standing and taking photos, he was rushed by State Police, arrested, camera taken and he was held over night without access to an attorney, then was released. No charges were ever brought against him,.
Shaken up by these events, he filed suit in federal court and lost.
His real crime had been to invite people to go to Rell’s inauguration on his blog.
It turned out he was placed on a list of people to be watched and the arrest was justified on that basis.
This is what happens when civilians do NOT oversee the police and demand compliance with the law.
An abuse of power is inevitable.

posted by: NHPDsupport on December 20, 2016  10:52am

This article is sad. With everything going on in this country right now you would think that someone that has the ability to make their voice heard to an entire city would try and pull the city together instead of push it apart. No one is perfect. Police are human beings, just like the rest of us. This was a real threat. Would you all have rather these be bombs and killed people? What was done here was trying to keep everyone safe, INCLUDING the media that were present. He got too close. They didn’t know. Put yourselves in that place; you’re trying to keep people from dying, but some just go toward the danger who are not properly equipped to handle it and you know that. You do your best to keep them safe but still, they do not comply. What then? As a police presence, yes detain them because they are being a danger to themselves and others. In mental health settings, that is enough to hospitalize for 72 hours. People, stop fighting the police. They are here to serve and protect and in New Haven they do a DAMN good job at it. Don’t post all this pessimistic rhetoric and expect things to get better. Show support for the people that put themselves in danger every day in order to keep us ALL safe. We need to support each other, in good times and in bad. We make mistakes, we learn from them, we grow from them. We need to do this together. If we don’t, there is no hope left.

[Paul: Agreed. The question here isn’t what the officers felt and did at the scene. It was the decisions made afterward.]

posted by: Noteworthy on December 20, 2016  11:15am


I love the certitude with which you describe your view of an industry and profession with which I am intimately familiar. The NHI has a bone it likes to chew on re: police arresting citizens for photographing/video-taping cops doing what cops do. It’s other bias to blow up small incidents into big ones. This story is just such a case.

Nobody especially myself expects a free press to roll over and play dead to please government or law enforcement officialdom. There are plenty of examples of such behavior and given the subject and subject matter even the NHI is happy to be more cheerleader than watchdog.

However, putting yourself in a position to be arrested, having others photo you in the back of a cop car and your newspaper predictably doing a story on your arrest - and by extension - claim it’s unjust, is in fact, putting yourself in the story.

Covering crime scenes or potential scenes where the police are in control of the real estate is not brain science. You photograph, video-tape, stay out of the way and follow directions. Failure can get you arrested, especially if you are not properly credentialed and/or have not identified yourself to authorities.

It may be the new style of journalism to present your bias, to insert yourself in the story, indeed be the featured character in the story - just like the young reporter at a Trump event in Florida who claimed she was manhandled by Lewandowsky - and turned that into a story that fed into the existing narrative - but it doesn’t make for good journalism or necessarily an accurate version of the story.

That said - the core principle of journalism is to cover the story, all sides of what others are doing and saying, and that doesn’t or shouldn’t include participating in it.

posted by: Enough Is Enough on December 20, 2016  12:10pm

For the future safety and well being of all concerned, I hope the NHPD will train and/or retrain all of the officers involved in this terribly mishandled incident.  Although the handling of the empty rice cookers themselves may have been correct, by now the police brass are well aware that both the scene and the reporter were mismanaged.  The training officers would be well-advised to re-educate all of those cops.  They have a lot to learn.

posted by: 32knot on December 20, 2016  12:35pm

Having read two articles on this incident and read all the comments I think its time to add my 2 cents.  It is apparent that there was excessive delay in securing the “danger zone” with anything approaching a recognizable barrier. it is further apparent that for the responding officers and their supervisor that they lost the ability to think calmly and rationally when their blood pressure started to rise,( when the pucker factor went up they lost their cool). there are some people that will excuse the NHPD of any mistakes in judgement, no matter how minor or major. I used to give the NHPD the benefit of the doubt in most cases, but over the past 20 years the history of the PD has led me to suspend that doubt. The leadership is saying one or more things about policy and behaviors but it is not getting to the troops on the front lines. either the training is not good enough or we have the wrong people in the PD. I am beginning to think it is both. Also, the attempt to bring race into the mix by some commentators is just wrong and diminishes the issues where race is a legitimate factor.

The PD, any PD, should reflect the concerns of the people it serves. NHPD currently does not. The People of this city and state have made it clear that they have the right to observe, video and photograph the actions of the PD,( within certain boundries) and the NHPD does not seem to be able to accept that fact/law. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET THE PD TO UNDERSTAND THAT LAW?  NHPD works for the people of New Haven not your selves or some super hero image that knows best!  NHPD has already lost the trust of a number of people, don’t make it all the people.

RETRAIN and get it right or the Justice Dept. will step and do it in a fashion nobody will like.

If you can not remain calm in the face of danger or rising threats then you are not meant for the job. Also the Jack Nickolson character in the movie mentioned is not an example to hold up and emulate in any situation.

posted by: nero on December 20, 2016  1:04pm


The New Haven Independent writing about “. . . police arresting citizens for photographing/video-taping cops doing what cops do,” is neither a bias nor a “bone to chew on,” it is covering a story about police officers violating their own rules and a court order. The story is also not about “blowing up a small incident into a big one.” It’s a story about Constitutional rights. Your continued interest in this story is testament to the incident’s relevance and importance.

From the most credible description of the events that unfolded surrounding the investigation of two pressure cookers abandoned on a Westville sidewalk, the only violation that night was the arrest of photographer David Sepulveda doing his job coming upon a scene improperly cordoned off by police.

Sepulveda didn’t insert himself into the story, the police who detained and arrested him without provocation inserted him into the story. Are you unable to stop blaming the victim, Noteworthy?

This is beginning to feel like beating a dead horse. Readers defending police misconduct don’t seem swayed by defense of the 1st Amendment. There’s natural conflict between public safety and citizen’s freedom. Honest folks can disagree about how much freedom they’re willing to give up for increased safety.

Ultimately, I think New Haven’s interests would best be served by retraining police officers and clarification of camera policy—as Paul Bass suggested. No lasting harm done. Oh, and let Sepulveda go—he did nothing wrong.

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 20, 2016  1:42pm

David should have walked out of court with a dismissal of all charges.

All that is happening now is a quiet wagon circling exercise….while time, that pesky thing that supposedly doesn’t exist, keeps on ticking.

If you haven’t been put in this position by the police, you might not understand the effect drawing this stuff out has on the wrongfully accused.  This is part of the strategy to wear out victims and make pleading down the charges an ‘acceptable’ alternative to any real notions of justice and community.

Not Guilty!!!!

posted by: Lori on December 20, 2016  1:50pm

I love how you assume the reporter is lying when it is obvious that if there had been a officer in a bomb squad outfit in the area or around the device that would have been the prime picture and it would be on his camera.  Clearly the officer is not accurate as to the timing of the incident and when the bomb squad officer was in the area.  I would assume somewhere in the time frame of detaining the reporter for more than a half hour the bomb squad arrived and the officers needed something to make it seem there was an issue.  The photos will speak for themselves.

posted by: Enough Is Enough on December 20, 2016  1:58pm

Let’s all hope the brass takes all these cops aside and helps them to understand that securing the scene was their responsibility and they failed.  More importantly, let’s hope each cop involved responds with “yes sir, I understand what I did wrong and I will do better next time”.

If the scene had been properly secured there would have been no ambiguity about where the reporter should and should not have been.  By yelling at him the cops showed they knew he was not a threat.  Unless if he was belligerent and combative (and why would he be) arresting him was pointless; some very clear after-the-incident communication and police discretion would have made a lot of sense.  Confiscating the camera demonstrates just how over their heads and out of control these young cops were.  In addition, the assertion that the bomb technician was distracted by the photographer is especially frightening.  It suggests that either these kids felt it necessary to reach for a lame excuse, or there is a bomb technician who is in serious need of retraining.

Finally, congratulations to Paul Bass for successfully baiting those cops.  All they had to do was say “this is an active police operation; no comment at this time”.  If, after repeating such a statement a reasonable number of times, Mr. Bass did not leave (which he would have) no one would have faulted them for promising to arrest him.  Certainly the brass would be happier if that unflattering video did not exist.

Thanks to the camera confiscation mistake, the charges against the reporter will be dropped and this will all fade away.  I just hope that behind the scenes the NHPD leadership does the right thing and teaches the kids how to do a better job in the future.

posted by: RetiredNHPD2013 on December 20, 2016  3:50pm

How fast we forget that there have been real bombs that have detonated in NH and injured people and damaged property.

posted by: Get It Right on December 20, 2016  3:50pm

a member of the bomb squad “had to redirect his attention from his task at hand as a bomb technical ... when he noticed [Sepulveda] was close. It should also be known [the officer] was fully outfitted in his bomb suit due to the close proximity to the pressure cookers

Correction - a member of the bomb squad “had to redirect HER attention from HER task at hand as a bomb technician…..when SHE noticed Sepulveda was close.  It should also be known (the officer) was outfitted in HER bomb suit due to the close proximity of the pressure cookers.  The bomb tech now had to worry about the possibility of this being an actual explosive device and the presence of some hard headed person.

posted by: new haven can do better on December 20, 2016  3:57pm

I would like to see the NHI do FOI request and Investigation to see how many times the police have taken cameras from those arrested. Seems to be a very common practice.

posted by: new haven can do better on December 20, 2016  4:08pm

The Chief should order an IA Probe of how the City has gone on to PROMOTE to detective Officer Daniel Conklin
A lawsuit filed in June of this year alleges Conklin of stealing a cell phone and filing a false report. Sounds eerily familiar to what happened to the NHI reporter


In fact, maybe the City needs to do a deep dive into what is really happening on the streets. Is this the City’s idea of Community Policing?

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 20, 2016  4:36pm

After these officers are retrained, they will be next on the promotion list…..that is how NHPD deals with this stuff.
It’s a club that protects itself first and citizens second….

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 20, 2016  8:10pm

Do any of you understand why we have the Bill of Rights?

Do you understand that our republic is founded on the rule of law and the sanctity of individual rights?

Do you understand that these Amendments protect us against the vagaries and excesses of government?

Look, in my last year of law school, we had to wrestle with this as an ethical problem. View it at:

Attorneys are bound to zealously represent their clients, regardless of their offenses.

This is so our government prosecutors are held to high standards of proof when taking away one’s freedom and/or life.

This is huge and a major reason our country is the best in the world. (not perfect, but the best)

All government actors, whether they be the police or bureaucrats or elected officials, eventually get carried away and try to power trip us ordinary citizens.

The Bill of Rights protects us all from this all to human fallibility.

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 20, 2016  10:18pm


I am very glad that you re-posted that video in this article.

Personally, I think Lt. Casanova was on to something….....and I think he has reason for worry.

Not only does that stupid hat make you look like a ‘Fucking Mope’, the officer’s curbside manner indelibly seals the impression.

Dress for Success!!!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2016  9:04am

posted by: NHPDsupport on December 20, 2016 9:52am

stop fighting the police. They are here to serve and protect and in New Haven they do a DAMN good job at it. Don’t post all this pessimistic rhetoric and expect things to get better. Show support for the people that put themselves in danger every day in order to keep us ALL safe. We need to support each other, in good times and in bad. We make mistakes, we learn from them, we grow from them. We need to do this together. If we don’t, there is no hope left.

Remember Him.Like he said

The Police Are Still Out of Control

I should know.


My bad I forgot.

Video of Officer Michael Slager Shooting Walter Scott In The Back

posted by: abg22 on December 21, 2016  5:23pm

Pretty much everyone in Westville knows Mr. Sepulveda - the fact that Sgt. Dominguez apparently has no idea who he is suggests a serious failure of community policing. True community policing means that district managers should familiarize themselves with the handful of reporters who cover local stories, and not confuse them with terrorists. It’s not difficult.  Do your job and learn who the local reporters are. It might actually help you do your job better, and avoid situations like this where a simple misunderstanding spirals out of control. As for this disastrous police report, it is riddled with inconsistencies and omissions and will be sliced apart by Mr. Sepulveda’s attorney Norm Pattis like a tender Christmas ham. The charges should be dropped and an apology issued to Mr. Sepulveda immediately before any further damage is inflicted on NHPD’s reputation or taxpayers’ wallets. Hasn’t the City lost enough lawsuits already?

posted by: Enough Is Enough on December 21, 2016  7:39pm

As has been pointed out, there have been some real bombs and bombings in New Haven.  Most people do not have what it takes to put on a bomb suit and defuse a bomb or face an armed suspect.  We should all be thankful there are men and women willing to do those jobs (regardless of what motivates them) and that they are there when we law-abiding taxpayers call them.  Nevertheless, they have to do a better job than they did in this case.

These days, it seems the cops have less trouble taking down criminals than they do handling people who are NOT criminals.  The NHPD leaders have a responsibility to review these incidents and make sure their inexperienced officers learn from their mistakes.