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.
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.
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.