Westport congressional candidate arrested, claims police brutality
WESTPORT — A 30-year-old congressional candidate claims police roughed him up when he was mistaken for a burglar when he misplaced the keys to his home.
TJ Elgin, who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, was arrested after police say a neighbor reported waking up to the sound of a man yelling and kicking a door at a nearby Robert Lane residence just after midnight Friday. According to police, the caller did not recognize the man and feared he was attempting to break into the house or was involved in some type of altercation.
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Police said officers found a woman sleeping inside a vehicle in the driveway, but she was not able to provide useful information. After unsuccessful attempts to open the door, police said they noticed footprints on the door, suggesting it had been kicked.
Police said a man matching the description given by the caller eventually opened the door. The man, identified as Elgin, had a fresh injury to his face and refused to cooperate with officers, resulting in him being physically restrained while the incident was investigated, police said.
Police later determined there had not been a physical altercation at the home, and that Elgin did live there.
However, Elgin was charged with breach of peace for allegedly interfering with an officer. He was released on $500 bond, and is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Norwalk on Dec. 30.
But when reached on Monday, Elgin had a different view of what happened.
Elgin explained he and his fiance were out Friday night celebrating their upcoming marriage and realized they misplaced their keys to the home, where his 87-year-old grandmother also lives.
Elgin said he tapped on the door to get in, but denied kicking it and refuted the police report about having facial injuries. After getting inside, he went to retrieve some items for his fiance.
“Then I heard a knock,” he said. “I thought it was her. I opened the door and I got ripped out of my house and thrown to the ground by several officers with brutal force and knees to my back.”
He accused police of calling him a burglar, despite reportedly having identification and his grandmother trying to tell police he was not a criminal.
“The police welcomed themselves to look around my house on top of continuing to rough me up,” he said. “I feel like this was an assault on my character and a fear tactic because the fear of my election and the shift of what people can’t get away with anymore if I make it into office.”
Elgin, a Republican and co-owner of Full Moon Brewing, this month filed to run for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, a seat that has been held by Democrat Himes.
Elgin also claimed this was not the first negative experience he’s had with Westport police.
“We would like to know who is taking responsibility for allowing these actions to occur,” said Elgin, who said he was treated at the hospital for injuries sustained during Saturday’s incident. “... Police brutality will not be expected without consequence.”
Elgin said he plans to file an official complaint with the police department.
Westport police Lt. Anthony Prezioso could not be reached Monday for comment regarding Elgin’s accusations.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano declined to comment on the matter.