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Video shows police Tasering, stomping suspect

Updated 11:34 pm, Friday, January 25, 2013

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The fuzzy video uploaded on YouTube shows Bridgeport cops using a stun gun on a man in Beardsley Park as he tries to run from them.

There is a pop and a sizzle from the electric stun gun, then a shout of "nice shot" from off camera as the man lies face down in the grass. Within seconds, two police officers are on him, kicking and stomping him as he writhes on the ground.

Moments later, a police cruiser speeds into the frame, sirens screaming, and stops short. The driver's side door bursts open and a third cop leaps out, runs over, and joins in the kicking.

The video was posted Jan. 18 by an anonymous witness to the May 20, 2011, incident in the park. At one point, the witness yells at the officers, "You got him, cut the (expletive)."

After viewing the video Friday, Carolyn Vermont, president of the Greater Bridgeport branch of the NAACP, called the police response "horrible, totally unacceptable."

"No person should be treated as an animal, no matter what they are charged with," she said.

Vermont said she plans to talk to Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. about the incident.

Police officers Elson Morales, Joseph Lawlor and Clive Higgins, all 10-year veterans of the force, were put on paid administrative leave -- or desk duty -- the day the video was posted, Jan. 18. They were penalized nearly two years after the incident when Gaudett saw the video, which had been circulating nationally on YouTube.

The incident is now being investigated by the city's Office of Internal Affairs.

"I'm concerned by what I saw and ordered the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct an immediate, thorough and timely investigation," said Gaudett. "If violations are found, we will take action. Our officers are held to high standards and rightfully so, and we intend to maintain these standards."

Gaudett refused to release the name of the man being kicked and stomped by the officers and what charges were lodged against him.

City officials did not immediately respond to a Freedom of Information request by the Connecticut Post for the information.

Gaudett said he learned about the video last week and promptly ordered the investigation. He also notified the Bridgeport State's Attorney.

Police sources said the man was being pursued by officers following reports that he had a gun. When the officers finally subdued him, no gun was found, but the man was wearing a holster, the source said.

The man was charged in the incident and did not file a complaint against the police officers. The sources said he is now serving prison time on unrelated charges; they said he was not seriously injured by the officers.

It is standard procedure for city officers to use stun guns on fleeing suspects, and most officers are armed with the yellow-handled electric device.

But in November 2011, 51-year-old Ronald Cristiano died after being stunned by two city police officers following a struggle with them outside a home on Wilkins Avenue.

dtepfer@ctpost.com; 203-330-6308; http:// twitter.com/dantepfer