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Danbury Police Officer Fired For Berating Driver During Traffic Stop

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DANBURY – A police officer who allegedly delivered a threatening, profanity-filled tirade to a driver during a motor vehicle stop was fired Friday following a review of the incident by the mayor’s office.

A letter of termination issued to Officer Christopher Belair by Mayor Mark Boughton lists 15 violations of the police department’s rules, regulations and code of conduct, including use of violent and abusive language, giving a false statement and intentionally denying the operator humane treatment.

Three other officers have been suspended for periods ranging between 30 and 180 days in connection with the incident.

An anonymous tip about rudeness by officers during a traffic stop on March 8 led to an internal investigation, during which the police Professional Standards Division searched computer incident records and video recordings, and also located and spoke to the driver involved, Chief Alan D. Baker said in a statement last month. The findings of the internal investigation were turned over to the mayor’s office and the State’s Attorney.

According to the letter, during the stop Belair threatened to beat the driver and told him to leave the country. He also mocked the driver, yelled at him and used profanity, Boughton stated in the letter.

“Your words and manner of speaking to the operator of the vehicle were higly offensive and not in any way warranted,” Boughton wrote.

Boughton’s letter also states a belief that Belair was physically aggressive toward the driver, and though videos and pictures of the incident are not entirely clear, the mayor suspects a more precise analysis of the evidence will show the officer had inappropriate physical contact with the driver.

The video and photographic evidence will be forwarded to the State’s Attorney for further review, said Boughton.

Boughton also stated that Belair and the other officers placed the driver at risk of injury by leaving him at the scene of the traffic stop to walk home, a mile away, in a snow storm, in the middle of the night.

Belair declined to speak at the mayoral hearing held Thursday, on the grounds that he did not want his statements to be used in a criminal investigation, but a union attorney made statements on his behalf, according to the letter.

Baker said the initial traffic stop was based on probable cause and the officer who initiated it had no knowledge of the driver’s race, ethnicity or country of citizenship.

“Professionalism, respect and fairness are core values of the Danbury police, regardless of citizenship or country of origin,” said Baker.

Story by Kelly Glista, Hartford Courant

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