Connecticut State’s Attorney Gail P. Hardy refused to grant an application for an arrest warrant for an officer from the Enfield Police Department.
The application for the arrest warrant was for Officer Mathew Worden, and it charged him with assault in the third degree and fabricating or tampering with physical evidence.
The incident that led Enfield Police to seek charges occurred on April 1 at 9:57 p.m. in the area of the boat launch on River Street in Enfield. Warden allegedly assaulted Mark-Andrew Maher, a Windsor resident, while on duty and acting in his official capacity as an officer.
Maher filed a police brutality complaint against “three or four” unnamed officers with the department on April 6. Maher was also arrested on the date in question and charged with assault on a police officer and interfering with an officer.
In deciding on whether or not to grant the arrest warrant Hardy collected more information beyond the application supplied by the Enfield Police Department. She reviewed an in car video from Officer Jaime Yott’s cruiser, the arrest report for Maher that was filed by Officer Worden on April 5, a second report filed by Officer Michael Emons on April 1, a third report filed by Officer Yott on April 5 and medical records from April 2 for Maher.
Maher was at the boat launch with three other individuals in a car at 9:57 p.m. The area is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and it is prohibited to be there after closing, and it is also prohibited to consume alcohol on the premises at any time. The application for the arrest warrant for Officer Worden states that Officer Yott found the car in the lot and smelled marijuana, and when she approached the car found a bottle of vodka inside and illegal drugs.
The evidence showed a quick moving and confusing scene with many moving parts. Maher was in a car with another male, identified as Leonard Hill, and two women. At some point after the four individuals were directed to stand near one of the cruisers Hill appears to slip something to Maher, which leads Officers Worden and Emons to forcibly move Hill to the hood of the car, handcuff him, and re-pat him down. Maher and the two girls remained on the other side of the vehicle.
After the pat-down of Hill Worden walked towards Maher and motioned for him to turn towards the hood of the car for a pat-down search. Maher continued to move and Officer Yott used her legs to immobilize him while Officer Worden removed items from Maher’s pockets. At this point Officer Emons began moving towards the other two officers and Maher, and he raised his arm towards the group.
The officers then took Maher down to the ground in a “pile-up,” and Maher can be seen twisting and moving around. Officer Yott put her knee in Maher’s back in an effort to restrain him, but he kept resisting while the other officers tried to cuff his hands.
At this point Officer Worden threw at least two punches to Maher’s shoulder as he tried to secure Maher’s wrists. Worden then used his knee on Maher’s back to immobilize him and cuff him. When he is cuffed it then becomes clear that there’s an injury to his right eye.
This is what led to Maher’s complaint of police brutality and the officer fabricating physical evidence. Maher claims he was punched four times by Worden despite Worden’s report stating he punched him twice. Maher claims the other two punches were to his face and head.
For the state to charge Officer Worden with assault in the third degree, it must be proven that he acted with the intent to cause physical injury and that he did in fact cause injury.
The state’s attorney’s letter states that although the two punches to Maher’s shoulder that can be seen on video could be considered unnecessary, the use of force wasn’t more than what was necessary and reasonable to detain Maher. She determined that his conduct seemed to indicate he was trying to restrain Maher, who was resisting arrest, rather then that he was trying to harm Maher.
To charge an officer with fabricating physical evidence the state must prove that he knowingly wrote a false statement in his arrest report with the intent to mislead a prosecutor or judge working in an official proceeding. Hardy says that because Worden reported that he struck Maher and filed a use of force report that it is “factually insignificant” how many times Worden struck Maher. Worden also called for emergency medical attention for Maher and stayed at the scene while he was treated.
After reviewing all the evidence Hardy decided to reject the application for the arrest warrant for Officer Worden.