Hartford police detective terminated for using racial slurs during DUI arrest

HARTFORD — Detective Robert Lanza was dismissed from the Hartford Police Department Monday.

Dash camera video shows the minutes leading up to his arrest by Plainville police officers who said they stopped the 11-year Hartford police veteran after reports of an erratic driver on state Route 72 in August. During the 30-minute video, Lanza was heard swearing at officers and using a racial slur. They said he also warned the Plainville officers arresting him not to come to Hartford.

"I’m a cop in Hartford," he said. "You can’t help a guy out?"

Police said the 44-year-old man was unsteady on his feet and wouldn’t take sobriety tests.

“I’m not doing the test, I’m not doing the test, I’m not doing it," Lanza said.

When Plainville police asked Lanza if he had a drink, he failed to respond.

"While speaking to Lanza he appeared extremely intoxicated, his speech was severely slurred while he spoke, his eyes appeared glossy and red and I could smell the distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his person, even though he had chewing tobacco in his mouth," the police report stated.

The video ended with a slight struggle between Lanza and Plainville police as they took him into custody.

After Hartford Police learned of Lanza's arrest, Deputy Chief Brian Foley of Hartford police, said an immediate internal investigation was initiated.

"When something like this happens, we've watched other departments around the country make the mistake of hiding it and not sharing it with their community, we didn’t want to do that so we pride ourselves in accountability and transparency,"  Foley said.

In a letter penned to the Hartford community, Foley assured residents that the officer’s alleged actions and use of ethnic/racial slurs would be addressed through an internal investigation.

Lanza was assigned to internal administrative duties within the detective bureau. Lanza is facing charges of interfering with an officer and DUI.

Lanza was arrested again after failing to appear in court but those charges were later dropped after a court delay in paperwork appeared to cause a problem.

Foley released a statement on the dismissal Monday:

"These actions were egregious, deplorable and completely unacceptable for a Hartford Police Officer, and are grounds for termination even before considering their present and future detrimental effect upon the operations of the Hartford Police Department. This causes concerns over Detective Lanza’s ability to perform the functions of a police officer, as well as the public trust and legitimacy in his ability to enforce the laws equitably without regard to race or ethnicity. His behavior discredited the Hartford Police Department, undermined the good order and discipline of the Department, and damaged working relationships with other law enforcement agencies.

Based on this, along with consideration given to the nature of the misconduct, the findings of the investigation, the evidence presented by both sides at the Disciplinary Hearing, the Hartford Police Department has concluded that termination is the only appropriate course of action. Effective today January 8, 2018, Detective Robert Lanza was dismissed from the Hartford Police Department."

The Hartford Courant reports that Lanza's criminal case is still ongoing. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment