NEW LONDON – An incident that occurred at Connecticut College early Sunday morning is gaining a lot of traction online due to the conflicting stories that police and the person arrested have presented.
According to police, on Sunday at 1:30 a.m. police got a 911 call from a concerned Connecticut College student in a residence hall who heard another female screaming for help and a man yelling.
When police arrived, they encountered an intoxicated 22-year-old woman and 20-year-old man, both students, who were identified as being the ones involved in the domestic violence incident. Police said both individuals became hostile with police, but their identities are not being released.
While investigating, police said another student, identified as Lee Messier, 21, began to interfere and “exacerbate the situation.” Police said he was “directed several times by officers not to interfere and to keep his distance,” and was warned he’d be arrested if he didn’t comply. Police said he kept interfering, “causing further escalation of the situation, which was already at a level hazardous to all parties involved.”
Messier was arrested and charged with interfering with police.
Messier tells a different side of the story. In a long Facebook post that has gone viral, with more than 5,000 shares and 600 comments as of Tuesday evening, Messier claims he was the victim of police brutality.
According to Messier’s post, he was in his dorm in a friend’s room when he heard a woman crying “help” in an adjacent room. He said he and a friend also heard loud thumps and thuds.
Messier said he and his friend went in the hallway to see what was happening, and noticed the room with the screams coming from it had its door open. He entered and saw a man, who he believed to be intoxicated, but that man walked past him and left. The woman who remained apparently thanked Messier for intervening and went into the friend’s room to calm down. When she left, seven New London police officers and five campus safety officers came running in, apparently called by someone else who heard the screams.
Messier said he and his friend were “in shock because the officers are acting so combatively towards not only the victim but also to us. After all, we were the ones who intervened in the first place and interrupted a potentially very serious assault situation in an attempt to protect the victim, nothing more.”
He said he and his friend tried to explain to police what had occurred because the domestic violence victim was crying hysterically and scared, and they had witnessed the incident. Messier said that when they tried to talk to an officer, the officers yelled at him and his friend to go back to their room.
They did go back in the doorway, but then witnessed the victim trying to run away and then getting handcuffed. So they tried again to explain to nearby officers what had occurred.
At that point, Messier said he was cursed at by an officer and told to get back in the room or he’d be arrested. When he asked why he would be arrested, the officer allegedly began to twist his arm to try to handcuff him. When he pulled back “in an instictive response,” his arm was yanked again, causing pain in his shoulder. At that point, Messier said he let the officer cuff him, but that’s when things got worse.
According to Messier, although he had submitted to arrest, the arresting officer held a can of Mace in front of his face, and then three other officers came over to push Messier to the ground.
“I received 4-5 direct blows to the head from one of the knees of the arresting officer. Other officers kicked me repeatedly in the back and pressed my head extremely hard into the ground,” Messier said.
In the end of his post he acknowledges he was arrested, and then asserts that the incident amounted to police brutality.
“At no point did the police or campus safety gather information from either us or the victim. Instead they frightened her even more and put her in handcuffs. This could have all been avoided if they weren’t so hostile from the very beginning. They should have approached her in a way that made her feel safe instead of intimidated,” Messier wrote.
Despite claims from both the police and Messier, the parents of the girl who was allegedly assaulted deny the incident. In a statement to FOX 61, they said:
We are the parents of the female student involved in the incident at Connecticut College, for which the actions of the New London police are under investigation. We fully support the actions of Connecticut College in this matter. We would also like to state, unequivocally, that the call to the police was the result of a misunderstanding, and that no domestic assault actually occurred. At no time did any student assault another student. We send our love and support to all of the students involved.
FOX 61 has reached out to Messier and police about the incidents. Messier responded on Wednesday morning:
“I am being bombarded by ALOT of media outlets all asking to meet in person and talk on camera. This something I really need to consider seriously. I want to make sure that I can articulate the incident as thoroughly and as vividly as possible. That being said, I am going to take a couple more days to recover and digest this entire situation before speaking with any media outlets on camera. What I can say with conviction is that without a doubt I was treated unjustly and inhumanely by the New London Police Department. I am continuing conversations with the administration so they understand my seriousness in this issue. Thank you.”