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Bridgeport Police Investigate Chokehold Arrest

Bridgeport police body camera footage shows officers struggling with a suspect during a recent arrest.
Bridgeport Police Department
Bridgeport police body camera footage shows officers struggling with a suspect during a recent arrest.

The police department in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said it’s launching an internal investigation of all officers involved in an arrest where a policeman held a larceny suspect in a chokehold. Body camera footage of the incident includes audio that may be sensitive for some listeners. The state of Connecticut banned the use of chokeholds except when an officer believes they need to defend against deadly physical force. It was part of police reforms passed in July, after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck.

Bystander video of the recent arrest in Bridgeport went viral on social media over the weekend. Then, Bridgeport police released this body camera footage on Monday. An officer tells suspect Kevin Thomas not to bite. They struggle and then an officer pulls Thomas’s neck in the crook of his elbow.

Bystanders call out to stop the chokehold: “Get off his neck! Get off his neck!"

An officer replies, "Get out of here!"

"Get off his neck! Get off his neck," the bystander says, "Y’all don’t got to do that to his neck, look at him!"

From another angle, a body camera shows officers back off as Thomas sits in the squad car.

Bridgeport Police did not include a description of the chokehold in a statement, but said pepper spray was used. Officials did not respond to an email asking if any officers under investigation have been placed on leave.

Below are four videos released by the Bridgeport Police Department, showing the arrest from different angles.

Copyright 2021 WSHU

Cassandra Basler is a radio reporter and editor at Connecticut Public. She has covered juvenile justice, the opioid crisis, immigration, social justice and inequity. You can find her reporting in New Haven and Fairfield counties. She previously worked at WSHU Public Radio and her work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Here & Now.