© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hartford Police Investigate Violent Incident Involving Officers

An initial supervisor's report called the use of force "appropriate."

A video has surfaced on social media of what appears to be a Hartford police officer holding a man from behind while another hits him repeatedly in the leg -- at least ten times -- with a stick. Police are investigating the incident, but the department's response since the incident has been praised by the local branch of the NAACP. 

At a news conference this afternoon, Hartford Police Chief James Rovella said that the video only showed the end of the incident. Here's what happened before. Detective Brian Salkeld and Officer Robert Fogg stopped 34-year-old Samuel Bryant for drinking in public. He had both powder and crack cocaine in his possession, in addition to a knife. Police thought he had a gun, though he didn't.

But Bryant fled, swung his fists and elbows, and broke Salkeld's nose. 

Police used a Taser twice on Bryant, but without success. Only then did Salkeld get Bryant into a bear hug.  That's when Fogg hit him repeatedly on the leg  -- an effort to get Bryant to the ground.

Credit Kevin Brookman / wethepeoplehartford.blogspot.com
Hartford Detective Brian Salkeld after the incident. The photograph's authenticity has been confirmed by police.

Rovella, who stressed the value of transparency, said his department is conducting a further investigation.  He also released a police report and other related documents.

"I’m not here to condemn the officer’s actions, nor am I here to justify those actions at this point," Rovella said. "That will occur after an investigation."

Rovella said the investigation will take some time.  Two things of note: the officers, in their report, do not give an accurate account of the number of times Bryant was struck.  Rovella said that was likely the result of confusion and nerves at the scene.  

Also, an initial supervisor's report called the use of force "appropriate." Rovella said that will be looked at again. 

Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR
Hartford Police Chief James Rovella on Tuesday.

Muhammad Ansari, head of the local NAACP, said he was initially shocked by what he saw on the video. But later, given more information, he took a different view.

“I didn't see anything that would upset me to the point where I'm angry with police officers and I think he did wrong," Ansari said. "I mean, the guy was resisting, they were trying to take him down, and you're hitting him [on the leg] as opposed to in the head or in the face and I think you have to take that into consideration."

One of the officers wound up in the hospital. In a sworn statement, Bryant said he apologized to the officer who he struck.

The video was shared online by Hartford State Rep. Brandon McGee. Earlier in the day, before the press conference, he said he was waiting for more information.

"I do not want to jump to conclusions on this," McGee said. "I would like to get as much information and details, which will then inform whatever the next steps will be, and I'd like to work closely with the Hartford Police Department. But, from what I am viewing, it seems as if this person is defenseless, you know. Nor am I saying anyone is innocent. But it just -- looking at that video, it's pretty painful." The video, 

Watch the video below, which includes physical violence and profanity. By Tuesday afternoon, it had been viewed more than 100,000 times on Facebook.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content