Four East Haven cops, including the president of the town’s police union, have been arrested on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and civil rights violation as part of a major federal racial profiling investigation.
The indictments come in the wake of a scathingU.S. Justice Departmentreport about the systematic violation of the rights of Latino citizens in East Haven by local police.
Sources familiar with the federal grand jury probe have said as many as 15 East Haven police officers and commanders could be indicted in the case, which has triggered calls for reform of Connecticut’s impotent anti-racial profiling law.
The indictment includes references to a high ranking East Haven police “leader” who identified in these court documents only as “Co-conspirator-1. The Hartford Courant reports that
"Co-conspirator-1" may be identified as East Haven Police Chief Leonard Gallo, and that he allegedly tried to impede the investigation.
Other unnamed individuals cited in the indictment include “Union Leader-1” and “Union Leader-2,” referring to officers in the East Haven police union.
East Haven Police Sgt. John Miller and Officers David Cari, Dennis Spaulding and Jason Zullo were arrested by the feds early Tuesday morning. According to the indictment, Cari, Spaulding and Zullo were known within the East Haven Police Department as “Miller’s Boys,” and all three worked the night shift under Miller’s supervision.
All four cops were involved in a February 2009 incident at My Country Store in East Haven when the Rev. Joseph Manship, pastor of St. Rose of Lima, was arrested for video recording the officers allegedly harassing Latino patrons and the owner.
The 18-page indictment cites the four cops for allegedly engaging in a “conspiracy to maintain and perpetuate an environment within EHPD that allowed and encouraged unreasonable searches and seizures and the use of unreasonable force by law enforcement officers to continue indefinitely and with impunity.”
“It was further part of the conspiracy to ostracize, harass and intimidate individuals, including victims, victims’ advocates, witnesses, fellow officers, Police Commissioners and outside investigators who attempted to investigate or report misconduct or abuse committed by the defendants,” the indictment reads in part.
“Miller led by example,” according to federal prosecutors. “Miller struck a hand-cuffed individual who was under the secure control of two other patrol officers. Miller openly committed this assault in front of other officers and reprimanded the one witnessing officer who reported the abuse to his supervisory sergeant.”
The indictments include a laundry list of incidents in which various officers allegedly used excessive force, struck individuals or rammed their heads against walls, all of which prosecutors say violated those individuals’ civil rights.
The scandal surrounding the East Haven police has led to promises by Gov. Dannel Malloy to finally use $1.2 million in federal grants that were available to pay for anti-racial profiling data collection programs. The money sat around for years unused because of bureaucratic delays and incompetence.
Minority lawmakers have demanded reform of a 12-year-old racial profiling law that has been virtually useless because of inadequate guidelines and standards as well as resistance from local police and prosecutors, and more bureaucratic ineptitude.
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