Young Suburban Wannabe Cop Suspected In “N Word” Incident

Remember that kid from North Branford we arrested for impersonating a police officer?

Maybe he was the one who went on the police radio and said the “n word.”

That encapsulation of a conversation among New Haven police detectives reflects the latest stage of an investigation into a racial incident that sparked a department-wide soul-searching and brought the FBI to 1 Union Ave.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight on Dec. 30. Someone got on the police radio, slowly uttered the word “nigger,” then signed off.

Within hours, Chief Dean Esserman ordered an internal probe. He invited FBI investigators to conduct forensic work when the trail went cold. Meanwhile, the incident led black cops to decry the racial environment at police headquarters, and led the chief to hold numerous lengthy in-house meetings and order extended diversity training for the department.

If some detectives’ hunches prove correct, it will turn out that a 20-year man caused the fuss.

Here’s what happened, according to several people familiar with the investigation:

Detectives met the young man (then 19) in the weeks prior to the Dec. 30 incident. The man followed along a police chase in New Haven and turned on police lights he has on his car. He eventually fled from cops at the scene when they asked him what he was doing there.

Detectives eventually went to his North Branford home and arrested him for the improper use of lights.

Fast forward to the brouhaha over the “N word” utterance. Detectives remembered the young man. They returned to his home to question him. He denied having uttered the word over the police radio that night. But some allegedly fishy behavior during the questioning made him a suspect.

The investigation is ongoing. The police are not positive at this point that they have the guy. And they may not end up having grounds on which to charge him, although the act—by whoever committed it—may fall under federal communications law.

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posted by: ProUnion on February 14, 2014  5:27pm

Can we please move on to some real news already??? I’ve read more updates about this silly “case” than I have any update on any murder case.

posted by: robn on February 14, 2014  5:58pm

Those who said it was improbable/impossible to hack into police bandwidths can feel free to present apologies to me and the NHPD officers they’ve besmirched with accusations of racism.

posted by: Username on February 14, 2014  6:47pm

Disagree that this case is silly. That was done maliciously and with the intent to denigrate and as much as it is a symbolic act on the part of the perpetrator, its an important symbolic act on the part of the community to support rooting it out and punishing it. Its the same thing as the broken window theory - if you don’t allow that to stand, you will promote a culture and environment in which right things have a better chance of happening. Its not a waste. At least I don’t think so. Tiring for the people who aren’t aggrieved, I can acknowledge, but still not a waste.

posted by: Guido Brunetti on February 15, 2014  1:51am

Just as I suspected. So now those officers who exploited this incident with such dramatic flair with their press conference in front of the Cinque memorial, need to seek another “whipping boy” to justify John Williams representation.

posted by: Trustme on February 15, 2014  1:05pm

Here we go again. To all of the NHI commentators-
I am tired of reading these judgmental comments where people blame others and point fingers before they know the facts. Now, is there an apology in store from the finger pointers? Looks like this post has far fewer comments than the original article…. Where are they now?? Crickets!! Point is, KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE MAKING JUDGEMENTS!

posted by: RACISMISALIVEANDWELL on February 15, 2014  1:41pm

“Remember that kid from North Branford we arrested for impersonating a police officer?”.....“The investigation is ongoing. The police are not positive at this point that they have the guy. And they may not end up having grounds on which to charge him.”

Wow, what a hunch, what a gut feeling!  Poor kid, the NHPD has officially found their “fall guy.”  I guess any nut but the right nut will do?  Stellar police work, gotta love it.

posted by: RACISMISALIVEANDWELL on February 15, 2014  1:49pm

Robn and maisi dobbs, you two are truly convenient and staunch defenders of racism. 

The “N” word over the police air will never be solved and the nazi swastika will never be solved.  Even though the racist Facebook rant was solved, it was swept under the rug!  Similar to what both of you are trying to do when it pertains to the thought of a racist culture at the NHPD.  Good Luck!

posted by: William Kurtz on February 15, 2014  3:44pm

Yes, I, too, await a lavish apology from the parties who took offense. Their claims of ongoing systemic racism have clearly been proven groundless now that a 20 year old from North Branford has been tentatively identified as the sole remaining holdout against racial harmony.

posted by: nadir1876 on February 15, 2014  3:46pm

I suspect that the response of the Black police officers is a symptom
of a deeper problem. They must be consistent however, and condemn the word’s use when it comes out of Black mouths. If it is a bad word, and it is, it is a bad word no matter who speaks it.
We all should condemn vulgarity wherever it rears its ugly head.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on February 15, 2014  8:25pm

Call me a dreamer, but if we focused on the connection between racism and our punitive prison system (another big bucks private enterprise), it would have more of an effect in the real world than rooting out people who use old, racist language.
We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Focus, people.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on February 15, 2014  10:27pm

How eager we are for the African-American community to “move on” from this incident, though its reporter reluctantly (it seems) reveals that the case is NOT solved.

Mr/Ms. Trustme screams “KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE MAKING JUDGEMENTS!” at those who have criticized this situation, while clearly ignoring his/her own advice.

Mr. Bass, the reporter here, diminishes the legitimate concern articulated by African-American Police Officers and their representative by referring to it as “the brouhaha”, not a word that suggest a serious engagement with the present racism and the past discrimination that we as African-Americans face and have faced.

There is nothing in this story, despite its flighty tone, that suggest this community should rest easy now that we’ve discovered that racism is merely child’s play for the board and the immature.  Whatever protest have begun, should continue.  And, whatever concerns have been raised should be engaged, until we KNOW the true source of this opprobrious reference. 

Vigilance, not apathy or resignation, is the key here.

posted by: robn on February 15, 2014  11:55pm


Are you talking about the systemic racism symbolized by the racist act which apparently never occurred?

posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on February 16, 2014  1:09pm

The more I read about this and racism in the NHPD, I want to apologize to a bunch of great retired cops, who came to the department, when being black and getting the job was quite a break through. Those officers, most were great people, intelligent, and able to see the discrepancy, and the injustice, within the department, when there were pronounced differences is who was promoted, and how discipline was handed out.

Today, the belief that as an individual, not being advanced is somehow based on race or sex, is an insult to a generation of cops who actually lived through it, and although it was not right, continued to give the taxpayers the best service they could.  When it came to differences in discipline, trying to compare 30, 40, or 50 years ago in the department to today, is shocking. The lack of discipline has slid the department down the slippery slope. To this day there are officers, detectives, and some supervisors, that would have been dismissed from the force for what some present day officers take as acceptable. This acceptable standard, allows some officers to remain on the job, who should have been arrested, convicted, and sentenced to time in one of the state’s correctional facility.

I want to apologize and thank any of the Afro-American New Haven Police Officers, Detectives, and Supervisors, who carried themselves in a humane and dignified manner, through times when racism was truly institutionalized.It took individuals of very strong character and faith, to carry out their duties, and do an outstanding job serving the public.

posted by: William Kurtz on February 16, 2014  1:17pm


I’m not aware of any evidence that the ‘racist act’ (we’re talking about the thing on the radio, right?) didn’t occur. It seems pretty clear from the reporting that it did occur, and the only question remaining is who is responsible. The investigating detectives seem ready to attribute it to the 20 year old wannabe, based on some unspecified ‘allegedly fishy behavior’.

Reverend Ross-Lee has been far more eloquent than I could be on this topic, so I’ll just say that I agree that concerns raised by the officers should be engaged with, not ignored or dismissed now that “the suburbs” can conveniently be blamed. It’s not as though racism ends at the East Haven border.

posted by: Ozzie on February 17, 2014  10:40am

Several articles in the newspapers reporting that the use of the N word came from outside the department. Where are all the people who protested and their Attorney issuing an apology to the members of the Police Department and by the way does everyone still have to go through that knee jerk reaction of Essermans to attend sensitivity training.