Middletown, CT is a typical New England town of about 47,000, located about halfway between New Haven and Hartford on the Connecticut River.  It is also the headquarters for the Connecticut State Police, although I’m not sure that this is a good thing, based on what we’ll discuss here today.

My attention was drawn to Middletown by Carlos Miller of Photography Is Not A Crime.

In 2010, Efrain Carrion died while in police custody, after his family had called 911 to get him help.  Carrion was arrested and handcuffed with his hands behind his back.  He then “assaulted” the officers to the point that they felt it was necessary to tase him 34 times.  While handcuffed.  This is before Carrion “fell” down the stairs.  While handcuffed.  The State Police spokesman talked on the news about how violent Carrion was and the danger he posed to officers, that he was choking the police dog.  While handcuffed. Cause of death was “excited delirium” which is normally associated with drug use.  Carrion died at the scene and the family has sued.

That incident of course has made the police re-evaluate their use of tasers.  Or not, considering they recently tased a seventh graderReally?  Even after police had been removed from the schools for their use of tasers against a 17-year-old in 2010?  Really?  The community and school is upset you tase a 17-year-old, so you come back and tase 12- or 13-year-old?  But that’s OK, because the student was “combative” according to a police spokesman.  A 12-year-old.  Really?

Last year the Acting Police Chief, Patrick McMahon, was demoted by the mayor, who said in regards to an incident the chief was involved it, “that while his description of the particular incident may have been technically accurate, there were a lot of other facts that should have been related to me and were not.”  McMahon was subsequently fired for drinking alcohol in uniform on at least five occasions, according to news reports.  You know, an out-of-control chief creates an out-of-control department.

The police department also does not like cameras.  Several years ago, they seized a cellphone camera because it may have “evidence” on it to support a loitering ticket.  This was covered on PINAC.  The cited individual was found not guilty in January 2013.  It’s actually kind of funny–the officer involved, Sebastian Bartolotta, had himself taped recorded an altercation with the Middleton Police in 2007 to protect himself from unfounded allegations by his superiors.  I guess he didn’t want it to be done to him.  Oops.

And they don’t like you filming their station, either, also on PINAC.  This is the one where the officer claims that “suspicion” is a crime.

The city has plenty of notice of the problem.

  • A lawsuit by Carrion’s estate.
  • A lawsuit by an individual for injuries suffered in jail, when they sent a K-9 into his cell.
  • A lawsuit by an individual shot in the arm in 2011.
  • A lawsuit by the mother of the 17-year old that was tasered in 2010.
  • The city settled a case from 2010.
  • A lawsuit from 2010 where the officers performed a body cavity search on the side of the road.
  • A lawsuit from 2008 alleging false arrest and search, dismissed on a technicality in 2009 (involving Bartolotta & Richard Siena).
  • A lawsuit from 2008 alleging illegal search and excessive force.
  • A complaint that a sergeant was viewing pornography on duty, Siena initially lied, then admitted it.  Three months later he was promoted to lieutenant.
  • A lawsuit from 2005 alleging excessive force where the suspect was beaten without warning.
  • A lawsuit from 2003 alleging assault and battery by officers.
  • A police officer and a lieutenant fighting in the police station (no charges were filed) in 2002.
  • A lawsuit from 2002, where officers threw a flash-bang grenade on top of two non-suspects while executing a warrant.