HARTFORD – The two men whose arrests prompted an excessive force investigation by the Hartford Police Department are considering their legal options.
Ricardo Perez, 34, and Emilio Diaz, 38, were arrested earlier this month following a stolen car chase through Hartford and into West Hartford. They contacted attorney Corey Brinson to represent them in a possible civil lawsuit against the police departments after being injured during their arrests.
Hartford Police announced their investigation earlier this week, after command staff questioned the men’s apparent injuries seen in their mug shots. Officers noted their facial injuries were inconsistent with what would have been caused in the crash that ended the chase and led to his arrest. The June 4 crash occurred on Flatbush Avenue, just over the city line into West Hartford.
Brinson told FOX 61 he visited the two men in jail Thursday, and plans to file a notice of intent to sue the cities of Hartford and West Hartford for excessive use of force.
“We have to send a message back to the police departments that they can't get upset in the heat of the moment and take matters into their own hands,” said Brinson.
Perez is accused of driving a stolen car, fleeing from police and injuring a detective by almost running him over. The police report claims officers “violently struggled” while arrested Perez. Police say they had to use a Taser and punch Perez in the body to get him in handcuffs after he refused to get out of the car or submit to being arrested.
Perez described a different series of events to Brinson.
“Police shattered his window with a baton. They continued to use that baton to strike Mr. Perez in the head and he was also dragged to the ground, kicked and beaten and continued to be struck,” said Brinson.
Diaz was in the passenger seat, and officers say they struggled with him as well. The police report calls his injuries “minor,” but it is apparent in his mug shot he needed stitches. Brinson said he was hit in the face with a Taser, punched, tased, and beaten.
“Mr. Diaz was crying, crying on the ground and then was told if he continued to cry, ‘I'm going to continue to beat you.’ That really resonated with me when I sat with them today,” said Brinson.
“If you want to punish these men for fleeing, there’s a court of law to do that in. You don’t beat them with a baton in the face. You don’t Tase them for no reason and hit them in the face with a Taser,” he said.
There is dash camera video from a West Hartford squad car that police say appears to show an officer kicking or stomping on one of the suspects after he was already in handcuffs. The State Attorney’s Office, which is handling the Hartford Police Department excessive force investigation, has blocked the video’s release.
Brinson says he hopes the internal investigation will reach a satisfying conclusion for all of those involved, so he won’t have to officially file the lawsuit.