Cops removed from duty following weekend clashes
Updated 5:20 am, Tuesday, October 31, 2017
BRIDGEPORT — Two veteran police officers have been removed from duty following a weekend in which officers clashed with dozens of people, first at a child’s birthday party and later at a West Side club.
Two local lawyers have notified the city they intend to bring civil rights actions against the police on behalf of many of those arrested.
Sgt. Paul Scillia and Officer Thomas Lattanzio have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation by the city’s Office of Internal Affairs, Police Chief Armando Perez confirmed.
“I have taken the officers off line while we look into some allegations,” Perez said. “There are issues of how they interacted with the public.”
Perez said both officers were involved in an incident on Oct. 21 at a party for a 12-year-old on Colorado Avenue.
Robert Berke, a local lawyer, on Monday filed notice with the city that he is bringing a federal lawsuit on behalf of seven people who were arrested at the party.
“There are a number of videos that capture these events and I’m in the process of putting them together as part of my case,” Berke said.
Perez acknowledged there was a situation between police and the people at the party.
“We have to be able to interact with the public better,” the chief said.
A video of the incident reviewed by Hearst Connecticut Media showed more than a dozen police officers crowding into the backyard of the Colorado Avenue home.
One unidentified officer yells, “Arrest everyone,” while some officers tackle a man dressed as Superman to the ground and others drag a woman dressed as Wonder Woman out of the backyard to a patrol car.
Police received a call at 10 p.m. of noise coming from the area of Fairfield and Colorado avenues, according to the police report. Officer N. McLaughlin patrolled the area before reporting to a party taking place with loud music in the backyard of 316 Colorado Ave.
The report states that McLaughlin and Officer B. Hernandez went to the backyard to talk to the homeowners and were greeted by a number of adults demanding that they leave the property. McLaughlin called for backup as the owner of the house, Fernando Morales, pointed his finger in Hernandez’s face.
Officer M. Mazzaco arrived and attempted to arrest Morales, who continued to shout profanities at the officers, the report states. The first names of police officers involved in the incidents were not available Monday.
Mazzaco then got on his radio and called a 10-32, officer needs help.
In the second incident, 31/2 hours later, a general broadcast came over the police radios for all officers to respond to 183 Worden Ave., the Cafe Rio.
On Monday, Berke and Robert Photos filed notice with the city they intend to file a civil rights action against the city and the police on behalf of three people arrested in the Cafe Rio incident.
Soon after officers arrived at Cafe Rio, a call was broadcast that officers needed assistance drawing not only numerous city officers but state police and Fairfield police officers as well.
The police report states there were several hundred young women and men causing “a large commotion by yelling, filming and cussing at the officers.”
The report states that people in the crowd threw bottles at officers and refused to disperse.
At one point at least one officer pepper sprayed the crowd. One of those sprayed was the niece of police Capt. Rebecca Garcia, former commander of the OIA.
“The victim was upset and speaking loudly that she was assaulted by an officer who grabbed her and pushed her and that she almost fell and that she was pepper sprayed sometime during the disturbance,” the report states.
Officers helped her wash the pepper spray from her eyes, the report states.