An alleged serial rapist of sex workers pleaded not guilty Monday to his three latest charges of first-degree sexual assault, while police released body-camera video of how officers at one point let him go free.
Just before noon in Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford’s cour room on the sixth floor of 235 Church St., the alleged rapist, Navardo Lockhart, submitted pro forma not guilty pleas for the three new first-degree sexual assault cases city police have charged him with.
Lockhart has now submitted not guilty pleas to five separate charges, all related to his alleged rapes of multiple different sex workers on multiple different occasions on the west side of town between January 2017 and January 2018. In almost all of those cases, Lockhart allegedly stole his victims’ cellphones and threatened the women with what turned out to be a BB gun.
Lockhart is being held on a total of $1.2 million bond for the charges.
“There’s going to be a lot of discovery on this, I assume,” Clifford said in court on Monday, referring to the voluminous evidence that city police invetigators have already amassed against Lockhart.
Senior Assistant Public Defender Scott Jones, standing in for Public Defender Beth Merkin, who is Lockhart’s attorney but who had jury duty on a separate case on Monday, told the judge that Lockhart is interested in arguing for reduced bail. Clifford told Lockhart to let Merkin know, so that she can argue for a lower bail during his next time in court.
Clifford set Lockhart’s next court date to be April 15.
Body Cam Video Release: “Is It 11 O’Clock Yet”
One of the first-degree sexual assault charges that Lockhart faces stems from his alleged assault of a woman on May 21, 2018 while parked late at night on Edgewood Avenue near Pendleton Street.
Through a Connecticut Freedom of Information Act request, the Independent obtained the body camera footage from Officer Jacob Cedeno, one of the officers who stopped and then let Lockhart go despite his apparent victim’s pleas that she had just been sexually assaulted and threatened with a gun.
This previous article details of an Internal Affairs investigation that found that Officers Cedeno, Christopher Landucci and Lindsey Nesto violated department rules in how they responded at the scene, where the alleged victim whispered her story to them and accurately directed them to the weapon.
In the above heavily redacted video, one can hear Cedeno threaten the apparent victim by telling her at the 2:55 point: “If you’re lying, you’re getting locked up.” That threat comes just after the apparent victim apparently warned Cedeno that Lockhart has a gun in the car and has just sexually assaulted her.
The video also shows Cedeno directing the woman to sit on the curb while Officer Christopher Landucci searches Lockhart. After Landucci has finished patting Lockhart down, Cedeno instructs Landucci to sit Lockhart down on the curb not far from the apparent victim. “Just separate them a little,” he tells Landucci at 4:39 in the video.
At 5:18 in the video, Cedeno finds the BB gun under the driver’s car seat, then puts it back down on the seat.
And at 5:54 in the video, as Cedeno searches the rest of the car after finding the BB gun, he asks, “Is it 11 o’clock yet?” According to the police’s internal investigation of the incident, Cedeno was scheduled to work until midnight that night.
The video doesn’t show Cedeno, Landucci, and Officer Lindsey Nesto let Lockhart go without arrest. Because the video ends with Cedeno turning off his body cam.