By GREGORY B. HLADKY
1:33 PM EST, December 17, 2013
Before water-boarding was all the rage in "harsh interrogation," there was a more subtle form often referred to as "Chinese Water Torture." That technique called for the subject to be tied up and a slow drip, drip, drip of water directed against his or her forehead.
The theory was that the endless dripping would eventually drive the prisoner crazy and the victim would agree to almost anything to stop it. That's what East Haven must feel right now as the fallout from the city's years of police abuse, incompetence and governmental neglect goes on and on and on.
This week, former East Haven cop Jason Zullo was sentenced to two years in federal prison for use of excessive force and taking part in an attempted cover up. He pleaded guilty, but his clear lack of remorse and almost defiant attitude got him the maximum two-year sentence allowed under his plea bargain.
Last week, it was a state jury's decision to hit East Haven with a $12.2 million verdict in a civil lawsuit that accused the city's police of a different form of misconduct. In that case, a person victimized by a drunk driver claimed that, before the accident occurred, the local cops let that intoxicated person go free because of his friendship with East Haven police officers.
In late October, two other former East Haven policemen were found guilty of violating the civil rights of Hispanics they harassed and abused. David Cari and Dennis Spaulding were charged as a result of a major federal investigation into racial profiling in the city.
The two men are scheduled to be sentence on Jan. 21. They could face maximum 20-year prison terms.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has reopened a civil rights lawsuit by several Latinos against East Haven and 22 current and former cops. The suit was filed in 2010 in the wake of the federal investigation, and was awaiting the result of the criminal trial against the four police charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Given the grim findings of that federal civil rights probe and the criminal verdicts, East Haven is very likely to be hit with multi-million-dollar judgments in the civil suit. How long that will take is anyone's guess.
Local officials like Mayor Joe Maturo keep talking wistfully about new beginnings and leaving the past in the past. Except Maturo was in office for most of the time those ugly police scandals were simmering under the surface, and some critics claim he bears part of the responsibility for what happened.
Of course, that didn't stop East Haven from voting in November to give Maturo another term as mayor.
And so the torture continues, drip by drip by drip.
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