NEW HAVEN--Two sides of a contentious issue protested in front of and inside New Haven City Hall on Friday.
During the New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade, a 15-year-old girl was arrested by New Haven Police. Video showed the officer slamming the girl on the ground. Some feel that was unnecessary force, but those who support police say it was justified because she had a knife.
The officer, Josh Smereczynsky, was cleared of any wrongdoing after an internal affairs investigation.
Police Chief Dean Esserman announced the exoneration on Friday afternoon. He also said he apologized to the girl's family and promised to do better.
"I told her she’s going to be held accountable for her actions. It doesn't mean we don’t care about her," said Esserman. "See how we can help justice be done, which is help for her. Not criminal justice but help for her."
That response wasn't well-received by some members of the police union. They interrupted the Chief's news conference inside City Hall with shouts of "I support police!" and "We want a mayor, not a puppet!"
Union president, Lou Cavaliere Jr., said he feels city leaders have betrayed the union and turned their backs on officers.
"Was he supposed to let her go and run up the street and let her escape custody? He did his job the way he was told to," Cavaliere Jr. said of Smereczynsky. "He loves his job. He puts his life on the line every day for people he doesn't know."
The union outrage spilled outside, met by police protesters that were upset that the justified ruling will let Smereczynsky return to duty.
Raymond Wallace felt this incident was just one example of what he calls unnecessary force by New Haven Police.
"This happens every day in our neighborhood," Wallace said. "'If you are approached, you got to show your hands. Don't talk back to them.' I have to teach my sons that. To only have to worry about what's going on in New Haven with the violence, we got to worry about the cops."
Wallace had a short talk with a retired cop during the commotion. Both agreed to have a discussion in the future about police-community relations.
"That's positive right there. That's a move in the right direction," Wallace said, though he added Friday's protest won't be the last.
The tempers and tensions from both sides flared for more than an hour until the crowd dissipated.
Here are videos of both sides of the protest:
You can follow Lauren Victory on Twitter @FoxCTVictory as she covers the full rally: