HARTFORD — On Wednesday, the Hartford Police department released video footage from a June 2016 incident in which a Hartford police officer appears to stomp on a handcuffed man’s head. The following is a reaction from David McGuire, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut:
“The disturbing video footage released on Wednesday by the Hartford Police Department raises serious questions about police transparency, accountability, and use of force, and about prosecutors’ abilities to pursue justice in cases of police misconduct. This is not the first time that Connecticut prosecutors have sat on video footage of questionable police conduct. Until there is meaningful police transparency and truly independent oversight of police, we fear that it will not be the last.
Transparency, including swift release of police body camera and dashboard camera footage, is critical for restoring community trust. Independent oversight of police is key to securing justice. Connecticut residents need and deserve both.
It is unacceptable that prosecutors withheld this footage for months, even in the face of requests for transparency by police themselves. State lawmakers must take action to ensure truly independent oversight of police. Prosecutors do not have enough distance to guarantee impartial investigations of police misconduct, even when they are from outside jurisdictions.
In the video, Sean Spell, a Hartford police officer, appears to stomp on a man’s head as the man lies handcuffed on the ground. According to earlier reports, a West Hartford police officer had also already tased at least one of the men involved in the incident directly in the chest—a practice that can in and of itself cause serious injury or death, and one that some Connecticut police departments have banned.”