Monday, October 18, 2004

Hartford Connecticut Police Misconduct


(Hartford-AP, Oct. 18, 2004 7:20 AM) _ Hartford police acknowledge an internal affairs investigations is underway into alleged misconduct by members of the department, but they remain tight-lipped about it.
Broadcast and print reports cite sources as saying that investigation involves the vice and narcotics division.

The Hartford Courant reports that a Hartford vice and narcotics division supervisor and detective are facing likely disciplinary action.

Police sources say a complaint sparked the investigation in September that could raises questions over numerous vice and narcotics cases the two detectives have handled.

Police Chief Patrick Harnett confirms that the investigation is ongoing, though he declines to discuss the specifics.

Saturday night, Harnett released a statement saying that Lieutenant Harold Even, the head of vice and narcotics, is a well-respected member of the Hartford Police Department and continues to have his full confidence.

These officers still may keep their pensions ...

The above found (here) on the web

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Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(pictures of young adults brutalized by Hartford Police)

What is Prison really like?
(and other links)

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Is there a Cover-up in Korruptikut?

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

Steven G. Erickson, Unofficial Lobbyist from Hell

My email:

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Does Leonard C. Boyle, the new police commissioner in Connecticut answer my accusations, line item?

Find out (here)

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Are Connecticut Judges part of the problem and do elected officials do nothing?

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Defense Lawyers Question Officers' Credibility

October 19, 2004 By TINA A. BROWN, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

Several local defense attorneys, experienced in representing clients charged with drug offenses in Hartford, started auditing their files Monday after news broke that a vice and narcotics supervisor and a detective are under investigation on suspicion of falsifying a search warrant application.

If the subjects of the police internal investigation - Sgt. Franco Sanzo and Det. Nathaniel Ortiz - arrested their clients in any pending cases, the lawyers said they plan to challenge the credibility of the officers' statements during negotiations with prosecutors.

Only one of the lawyers, James Brewer, called for a federal probe into whether the cases handled by the two officers are tainted.

"This investigation should go beyond internal affairs [in the Hartford Police Department]," he said.

"This should be sent to a federal grand jury if they deprived people of their fundamental civil rights."

Police sources have identified Sanzo, who has worked in the vice and narcotics division for more than a decade, and Ortiz, who worked there for two to three years, as the subjects of the internal investigation. They could face disciplinary action if Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett concludes that they falsified a search warrant application approved by a state prosecutor and signed by a Hartford Superior Court judge in order to raid the home of Raynette Woodard, also known as Raynette Little.

After the search on Sept. 2, Woodard complained that the narcotics detectives trashed her house, stole her jewelry and money and did not have probable cause to search her Green Street home. Woodard and a friend, Lloyd McLaughlin, were charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and an illegal gun.

A Superior Court judge dropped the charges against Woodard last week, and McLaughlin is due in court today. McLaughlin applied for the state's community service labor program, which means if he has a clean record, the felony charge could be dismissed after he performs community service, records show.

Police sources say that Ortiz and Sanzo were not truthful when, under oath, they swore that they saw Woodard's son, Michael Woodard, 22, selling drugs from 37 Green St. Michael Woodard was in jail at the time, and could not have been observed selling drugs. Neither Ortiz nor Sanzo has spoken publicly about the case.

This is not the first time Sanzo has been accused of arresting a suspect without probable cause. In 1996, Superior Court Judge Joseph Q. Koletsky ruled that then-Det. Sanzo and Det. Richard Murzin arrested Edward Kirkland in 1993 without probable cause.

In that case, the judge said that a half-kilogram of cocaine could not be used as evidence against Kirkland because he found Kirkland more believable than the detectives. The officers said they followed Kirkland in his truck after they were tipped off that he was carrying a kilogram of cocaine. When they stopped him, the officers said, Kirkland got out of the truck and appeared to reach for a weapon when he was arrested and the cocaine was found.

Kirkland said, however, that the officers approached his vehicle with their guns drawn and he was forced to get out of the vehicle. He said the bag of cocaine ripped as he was getting out of the truck. He said the detectives had no cause to stop or arrest him before the cocaine was found.

Harnett declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but said that the department is committed to the highest integrity and he has confidence in the commander of internal affairs. Since the latest investigation became public on Monday, the question of whether the allegation in the Woodard case is an isolated incident or whether all of Ortiz and Sanzo's cases are now tainted is the buzz among defense lawyers and their clients.

Defense lawyer Gerald Klein said, for example, he was preparing for a pretrial hearing on Monday morning when his client in the case called him to reiterate his innocence. He had told Klein before that Sanzo and Ortiz had fabricated evidence against him when they obtained a search warrant, Klein said."See I told you," Klein said his client told him.

Klein declined to name the client, but said that the prosecutor had offered his client a suspended sentence in the case, so the defense lawyer probably won't press it any further. But the issue has Klein considering how he can use the alleged corruption in other pending drug cases."I'm going to check my files," he said.

"I want to bring this up to the prosecutors to say these guys won't be credible."Klein said he also plans to notify his clients awaiting trial, who have been arrested by Sanzo and Ortiz, about the ongoing internal investigation. However, Klein said he doubts that the prosecutor's office will dismiss drug cases just because Sanzo and Ortiz were the investigating officers.

While Klein said no one can claim that all of Sanzo and Ortiz's cases are now tainted, defense lawyers Wesley Spears and William Gerace said they will argue that they are.

"All the cases are tainted," Spears said.

"Usually these [types of cases involving officers under suspicion] go down the drain. How can you say they have credibility if they lie?"

Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano and Hartford State's Attorney James Thomas said they will wait for Hartford's internal probe before they act.

Morano declined further comment.

Thomas said it would be up to Hartford police to determine whether criminal charges against the officers should be filed.

"There is no reason for my office to investigate," said Thomas, adding he would not speculate on the larger impact of the probe on other illegal drug cases.

Tom Carson, the public information officer for the U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment.Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who referred the original complaint filed by Woodard to the police department, said he was pleased that the department has aggressively investigated the complaint.

"I'm continually increasing my confidence in our ability to handle citizen complaints," Perez said Monday while campaigning for Sen. John Kerry in Orlando, Fla.

"We're doing what we need to be doing to take these complaints seriously and deal with them in a timely fashion."For years, Hartford police and its citizens review board have been slow in investigating complaints.

Officials are reducing a backlog of old complaints, and a federal judge in July ordered the city to investigate new complaints within 30 days.

Courant Staff Writer Mark Pazniokas contributed to this story.A discussion of this story with Courant Staff Writer Tina A. Brown is scheduled to be shown on New England Cable News each hour today between 9 a.m. and noon.

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