Judge Declines To Dismiss Charges Vs. Tasing Target

NHPDAneurin Canham-Clyne PhotoA prosecutor Friday offered to have the state nolle charges against Rashae King, the 36-year-old man whom cops tased repeatedly in a controversial incident caught on police body-camera video inside a Whalley Avenue bodega. King says he wants the case against him dismissed.

The state made the offer, and King’s public defender responded with the request for dismissal of the misdemeanor disorderly conduct and interfering charges, in Superior Court on Elm Street in an appearance before Judge Philip Scarpellino.

Judge Philip Scarpellino refused to dismiss the case, which has become a public test case of whether police will become more accountable for their actions now that they have all begun wearing body cameras on the job.

Scarpellino stated that officers claimed King appeared intoxicated the night he was arrested. Scarpellino stated that police overreaction is irrelevant to the misdemeanor and disorderly conduct charges.

King, wearing an olive drab green jacket that he also wore the night of his arrest, denied having been intoxicated. The judge responded that that wasn’t the legal issue here — what matters is that the police believed he was intoxicated.

“The police were the disorderly party,” King’s public defender, Margaret Moreau, told the judge.

Police on the night of Dec. 3 were responding to a report that a man was behaving erratically; they spotted King, whom they had seen acting bizarrely on the street hours early, into the Whalley Food Mart, where he was calmly purchasing lottery tickets. (Click here for a detailed story about the incident.)

Moreau said that police conduct — including repeated firing of their tasers — had scared King, and that it is difficult to comply with shouted instructions from three different officers. Moreau referenced the body-camera footage, which shows officers firing tasers at King while he tries to shield himself with a sheet of cardboard. No one, Moreau said, could see where King interfered with the police. The state’s attorney responded that King had interfered with the police.

Judge Scarpellino said that if he were to dismiss every case involving police misconduct, he would be dismissing a huge number of cases.

“It’s particularly egregious,” Moreau said of the body-camera footage.

Scarpellino said the officers involved “deserve to be held responsible.” The judge then asked whether King would accept the prosecutor’s offer of a nolle, which means the charge would get removed from his record if he avoids getting arrested again over the next 13 months.

King consulted with Moreau and asked for time to consider the offer. Scarpellino scheduled another hearing on the matter for Jan. 23.

Civil Suit Looms

Meanwhile, King has retained a private attorney to pursue a civil lawsuit against the cops. “We’re moving ahead with the suit,” that attorney, Michael Skiber, told the Independent Friday. “It serves notice to the police that when cameras are on, the police have to live up to standards.”

“The video speaks for itself,” he added. He said King tried to comply “with something he shouldn’t have been accosted for in the first place.”

Top New Haven cops reviewed the body camera footage of the Dec. 3 incident after hearing complaints from the rank and file that the three officers involved were getting away with brutal misconduct. The brass concluded that the officers violated no department general orders but that the officers should have found ways to deescalate rather than escalate the tensions in the confrontation; the three officers were sent to the police academy for retraining.

Outside the courtroom Friday, King said he felt the judge had treated him unfairly. He said anyone who saw the tape of his arrest would also insist on dismissal of the charges.

King said the police made him fear for his life by pointing tasers at him. He also said the police ordered him to do things he could not reasonably comply with, including turning his back on them while they pointed tasers at him.

“I hope only good comes of this” King said, adding that he hoped this incident would lead to the police moderating their behavior. King said he was unsure whether he would pursue a suit against the city.

“Police should protect you, it’s not fair to the people,” King said. King said the public shouldn’t have to fear routine interactions with the police, but police conduct made that impossible.

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posted by: Atwater on January 12, 2018  3:45pm

Take the nolle! It’s as good as a dismissal. A police brutality suit can still be filed with a nolle. You’ll never win a wrongful arrest case, although it is obvious this was a wrongful/unlawful arrest.

The level of idiocy of these officers is astounding! I’m sure they’re still employed though, sadly.

posted by: 1644 on January 12, 2018  4:48pm

“Judge Scarpellino said that if he were to dismiss every case involving police misconduct, he would be dismissing a huge number of cases.” I note, if accurately quoted, the judge said misconduct, not “alleged” misconduct. So, this single judge sees a huge amount of police misconduct.  That’s a pretty damning indictment of our police forces.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 12, 2018  7:13pm

posted by: Atwater on January 12, 2018 2:45pm

Take the nolle! It’s as good as a dismissal. A police brutality suit can still be filed with a nolle. You’ll never win a wrongful arrest case, although it is obvious this was a wrongful/unlawful arrest.

Not true.I will take my chances with a jury trial.

posted by: 1644 on January 12, 2018 3:48pm

“Judge Scarpellino said that if he were to dismiss every case involving police misconduct, he would be dismissing a huge number of cases.” I note, if accurately quoted, the judge said misconduct, not “alleged” misconduct. So, this single judge sees a huge amount of police misconduct.  That’s a pretty damning indictment of our police forces.

But like you said here when I said this.

Police officers like this can cost cites big payout lawsuits.

EXCLUSIVE: Detective is NYPD’s most-sued cop with 28 lawsuits.

They’re the NYPD’s most-sued cops, and Peter Valentin’s their king.

Valentin, a hard-charging Bronx narcotics detective whose online handle is “PistolPete,” has been sued a stunning 28 times since 2006 on allegations of running slash-and-burn raids that left dozens of lives in ruins while resulting in few criminal convictions.The city has paid out $884,000 to settle cases

You said.posted by: 1644 on December 21, 2017 11:10am
tcc: Whether or not that detective was liable, the number of times he has been sued make him expensive.  Legal representation is expensive, and, in civil rights cases, a winning plaintiff gets legal fees but a winning defendant gets nothing.  So, even though the city prevailed in Conklin’s trial, the city was out a large sum for his defense.  (An insurance company may have picked up much of the cost, pick the city will pay in increased premiums. ) 

So now the city will have to pay out and these cops keep there jobs to do the same thing again.

posted by: 1644 on January 13, 2018  9:25am

A couple of observations:
1. The state’s attorney can enter a nolle on his own.  If he thinks the case isn’t worth prosecuting, which he apparently doesn’t, he should just enter the nolle.  Neither the defendant nor the court can stop him.  Its entry is an exercise of his prosecutorial discretion.
2. Before the court could dismiss the charges, it would need to decide that the evidence, looked at from the a viewpoint favorable to the state, could not support the charges.  At this point, nothing has been introduced into evidence.  The court cannot consider the videotape, because it has not been introduced.  In fact, I doubt the defendant has even asked for a Bill of Particulars setting forth the facts upon which the state rests its case.  Were he do do so, the court could then examine the Bill and determine if, if those facts were proven, they would support the charges.  If the court determined that the facts alleged could support the charges, the court could not dismiss the charges.  If the facts alleged, even if proven, could not support the charges, the court would need to dismiss the charges.

posted by: JaneAtPeopleAgainstInjustice on January 13, 2018  9:51pm

@1644 and for everyone, this is important.

It is not true that prosecutors can force a nolle as the resolution of a case. The defendant has the right to reject this,. and, very importantly, the decision can’t be made by a defendant’s lawyer either - the decision belongs to the defendant. The defendant can demand a dismissal, demand a trial. The judge can dismiss it or schedule it for trial.The prosecutors can request a dismissal, object to one, or state they have no objection to one requested by the defense. I am sure there are other scenarios, but they don’t include a forced nolle. A nolle is not a dismissal. Defense lawyers need to inform their clients of this but often don’t, especially in the public defender’s office in the GA court. In fact, I am marveling at the uncharacteristic gumption from Margaret Moreau.  Maybe my lecture to her about this exact point a few years ago finally got through.

posted by: Mike0518 on January 14, 2018  9:27am

King is a career criminal looking for a quick pay out. He deserved every zap from the taser he got. Below is a list of crimes he has pled GUILTY to and been convicted of.  The cops did the right thing,

53a-167a Interfere With Offcr/Resisting A Misdemeanor 1 4/2/2015
53a-125 Larceny 4th Deg A Misdemeanor 1 12/26/2008
53a-167c Asslt Pb Sfty/Emt/Transt/Hlth C Felony 1 10/14/2012
53a-125a Larceny 5Th Deg B Misdemeanor 1 9/11/2017
53a-127f ILL Poss Of Shoplifting Device A Misdemeanor 1 9/11/2017
53a-125b Larceny 6Th Deg C Misdemeanor 1 5/4/2009
21a-277(a)+  Possess W/Intent To Sell/Dspns U Felony 1 7/3/2016
53a-167c Asslt Pb Sfty/Emt/Transt/Hlth C Felony 1 7/3/2016
53a-123 Larceny 2nd Deg C Felony 1 4/3/2009
53a-61(a)(1)  Assault 3rd Deg-Physicl Injury A Misdemeanor 1 4/3/2009
53a-103 Burglary 3rd Deg D Felony 1 2/10/2016
53a-115 Criminal Mischief 1st Deg D Felony 1 2/10/2016
53a-181 Breach Of Peace 2nd Deg B Misdemeanor
53a-181 Breach Of Peace 2nd Deg B Misdemeanor 1 1/2/2016
29-38 ILL Poss Weapon In Mtr Vehicle D Felony 1 9/15/2015
53a-61 Assault 3rd Deg A Misdemeanor 1 11/24/2011

posted by: 1644 on January 14, 2018  10:49am

Jane: I stand corrected.  Thank you.  CT Rules of Court do allow the defendant to object, and demand trial or dismissal, and seem to allow the court wide latitude to dismiss charges, although I don’t know if the state can appeal a dismissal that doesn’t have a sound foundation in fact or law.  The wide discretion the Practice Book implies affords the court a great opportunity to impose its personal, political judgment rather than follow the legislated laws.  Practice Book 39-30, 39-32.

posted by: 1644 on January 14, 2018  1:17pm

Mike:  Why is his record relevant?  First, the officers had no idea of his record when they tased him.  Second, as this episode illuminates, some of those charges are dubious (interfering/resisting), with no other charges!  Second, is it really okay to assault someone which possibly lethal force just because they have a prior record?  Yes, I wish we had persistent offender statutes, like California did, to permanently remove those who cannot conform their behavior to the law, but that doesn’t mean police should be empowered to assault persistent offenders outside of the law.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 14, 2018  4:58pm


How about his record? And they are going to Rehire him back.

Controversial Cop’s Rehiring OK’d

A former detective with a past checkered with misconduct is once again a sworn officer in New Haven, after a vote and secretive deliberations by the Police Commission.


posted by: narcan on January 14, 2018  7:00pm

King’s record is relevant because it shows a propensity for engaging in the type of behavior he is accused of, which in turn prompted this police interaction.

If Mr. 1644 with no criminal record accused police of confronting him on a bogus disorderly conduct investigation, it would hold more weight than Mr. King with a documented and extensive history of antisocial behavior.

posted by: challenge on January 14, 2018  10:27pm

Mike, It’s pretty pathetic to take the time to look up someone’s criminal record when someone charges police brutality. No matter a person’s past it doesn’t give police carte blanche to abuse them whenever they choose.  Body cam showed the young man at the register making a purchase. Is this Nazi Germany? Police say jump and we ask how high? Police can claim he was misbehaving hours ago. Where’s the proof. It may be shocking but unfortunately police have been known to lie and cover for each other’s behavior.  Shifting the topic…state’s attorneys need police cooperation to gain convictions they so badly want therefore it is likely in most cases they are not going to give a dismissal unless they have no other choice. A nolle is criminal charge on one’s record for 13 months and should the person get into trouble within that time frame the nolled charge can be brought back for prosecution so if someone has been unlawfully charged they should not accept a nolle. Interestingly the judge’s statement indicates he is no stranger to police brutality charges. Many times where there is smoke there is fire.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 14, 2018  11:04pm

posted by: narcan on January 14, 2018 6:00pm

King’s record is relevant because it shows a propensity for engaging in the type of behavior he is accused of, which in turn prompted this police interaction.

Would you same the same for police officers who have a record of civilian complaints?

posted by: narcan on January 15, 2018  9:37pm

Complaints? No. Everyone who has ever been arrested has complained about police being unfair or unkind to them. Simply having the will (or nerve) to make an official complaint does not make your story any more true.

A complaint is not an adjudicated finding of fact and determining of guilt, which is what we are speaking of when we refer to Mr. King’s posted record of guilty verdicts. I have no doubt the community has made complaints about his criminal behavior far more frequently than he has been found guilty after trial for.

If you mean to ask would I agree that an officer with a thoroughly investigated and substantiated record of misconduct brings less veracity to a case, then yes, I absolutely agree.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 15, 2018  11:43pm

posted by: narcan on January 15, 2018 8:37pm

Complaints? No. Everyone who has ever been arrested has complained about police being unfair or unkind to them. Simply having the will (or nerve) to make an official complaint does not make your story any more true.

Lots of Complaints on officers can be a Red flag.

Simply having the will (or nerve) to make an official complaint does not make your story any more true.

That is why you have IAD looks into those Complaints.to see if these Complaints are true.

Notice this(Scarpellino said the officers involved “deserve to be held responsible)

Even with his record.He will win the Civil Suit or the City will settle this Lawsuit

posted by: 1644 on January 16, 2018  7:56am

Narcan: If only the public could have confidence that complaints were properly investigated and adjudicated by an unbiased party.  But they aren’t.  The sad fact is that police investigate police.  Police culture and training stresses loyalty to each other, not to the law or what is right.  Why else do police chiefs, in public statements after questionable police actions, nearly uniformly defend their officers and accept their officers’ accounts of what happened?  I think of St Anthony’s chief’s support of his officer who killed Castile, and Ferguson’s support of his officer Wilson, all who made knee-jerk statements before any investigation was made.  Or Beck’s defense of the officers who shot at innocents during the Dornier manhunt.  As 3/5’s often mentions,  officers with long lists of complaints, many of which of resulted in millions of dollars worth of settlements, are nonetheless kept on police forces.

posted by: JaneAtPeopleAgainstInjustice on January 16, 2018  8:42am

Mike0518’s comment highlights one pretty egregious tendency in police work to target those with past arrests on the slightest pretext.

I really wish the general public would begin to get a glimpse of just a little more of the questionable things that go down that are systemic and widespread in order to nudge the discussion out of what really is a sort of broken record. We keep repeating the same things.

In this comment thread the issue of officer conduct is raised and multiple arrests is raised.

I love this journal article, for example, for the light it sheds on misdemeanor adjudication in this country. This describes it to a “T.”  There is a link for downloading the full paper under the abstract at this link:  https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2010826

I wish everyone would at least skim this or even just take in the two paragraph summary.

The situation we are in is one where police face little to no scrutiny and investigation, in general.

And we are dealing with a ocean of misdemeanor arrests that are resolved informally. This creates one of those situations so gaping you can drive a truck through it. These arrests are handled in a way that renders their legitimacy an anguishing open question. 

It’s a crisis, for sure. And it’s completely reasonable to view with suspicion the interests assembled to counter efforts to address it.

posted by: fedupwithpunks on January 16, 2018  10:31am

I am so sick of all the “police brutality” nonsense.  Yes, Some police officers deserve to be punished for their behavior. All he had to do was exactly what the officers asked.  How hard is that.  Before you comment on this, do a little research.  Public record shows a history of assault of officers.  Not to mention, a very long arrest and conviction record.  The police need to protect themselves so they can protect us from people like this.

posted by: narcan on January 16, 2018  3:17pm

Or a red flag that the officer in question is getting a lot of criminals off the street. Skirting my issue with “what about” arguments doesn’t change the fact. King has been found guilty in court of numerous similar crimes and that DOES lend weight to the charge that he was doing so at the time of this incident. But it is true, he probably still will get a settlement. And that is another sad reflection on the fractured state of our judicial system and society at large.

@1644 Those appointed and trained to investigate crimes are the ones we have to trust to investigate crimes. If they are found to be failing in their tasks, a new system should be put in place. The idea, however, that cops protect cops at all costs and the ends justify the means is an antiquated holdover from the 70’s. Yeah, you might duck a speeding ticket, but if you commit a misdemeanor or felony, you can count on being arrested like anyone else.

The breakdown in understanding is one of understanding and perception. In order to find the officers wrong, we like to sit and pick apart the incident with 20/20 hindsight. This is the exact opposite of the legal standard of judging a reasonable officer’s actions which says you may only consider the information and training available to the officer at the time of the event to guide you to reasonable actions. Officers rarely act with malice, which is why even when they may be found to have been wrong after the fact, they are rarely found guilty.

It’s understandable though that one would mistake this legal standard for cop’s protecting cops when we have the court of mainstream media molding our opinions, pronouncing cops guilty before the crime scene tape is strung. Thankfully for the police profession as a whole, most judges and prosecutors have a better grasp on law than CNN.

posted by: 1644 on January 17, 2018  10:35am

Narcan:  Not all of us have such trust.  Second, some of us believe that the legal standards in place are wrong.  They are wrong because the viewpoint of a “reasonable police officer” and his training often seems unreasonable to objective observers.  I would agree that in many cases, there is no malice.  However, some crimes, particularly homicides, need not require malice, but only recklessness or negligence.  The problem here is that police training often leans toward trigger happiness, where actions which are, in themselves, harmless, sucking as putting a hand in a pocket, is viewed as justification for killing. The result is police officers killing people who have committed no crime whatsoever, such as Andrew Finch in Kansas. Castille,  Justine Diamond, and Guizan in Easton.
Branford officers killed a mentally ill man with their tasers as he sat in a car.
Note, as I have stated previously, for whatever reason, New Haven officers often seem more tempered in the use of force than other departments.  A while back, NHI did a cop of the week about two rookie cops who ran down and arrested an obviously armed man without any real force, and I have written in defense of the force used to subdue the man who was created a disturbance at a liquor store trying to buy booze for an underage person.  Here is another tempered response: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/fence/