-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
That was the description of four East Haven, Connecticut, police officers who were arrested after a federal grand jury returned an indictment containing charges of conspiring to violate, and violating, the civil rights of members of the East Haven community. All four have pleaded not guilty in Federal District Court and three have been released on bail, ranging from $100,000 to $300,000; the fourth is awaiting completion of his paperwork.
The indictment alleges unreasonable searches and seizures, the use of unreasonable force, false and misleading police reports, and harassment and intimidation of victims, witnesses, and outside investigators. All four are facing potential jail sentences of 10 years or longer if convicted.
The four officers were protected by a higher-up in the East Haven Police Department referred to, in the indictment, as co-conspirator-1. The name of co-conspirator-1 is known to the grand jury, and if any of the four officers decides to make a deal, another indictment may be forthcoming.
The long list of abuses of power were often directed at Latino drivers and businesses, and the victims reported the abuse to Father James Manship of the St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven. Manship started his own investigation and, in 2009, got himself arrested while video recording two of the officers. In the police report, one of the officers wrote that he saw an “unknown shiny silver object” that Manship had “cupped” in his hands. However, in the video below, the officer clearly refers to the “shiny object” as a camera.
The arrest of Manship prompted the investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
This case demonstrates the importance of not outlawing the recording of police officers in public performing their duties. The courage of Manship should be an inspiration to all of us to not back down when confronted by bullies.