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9 arrested at protest held after video of former Hartford officer stomping on cuffed man released

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HARTFORD — Black Lives Matter activists held a protest on Monday in response to newly released video that appears to show a Connecticut police sergeant stomping on the head of a handcuffed man on the ground.

About 30 to 40 people stood in the road obstructing traffic, and nine people were taken into custody by police--eight were charged with disorderly conduct, and the ninth was given a misdemeanor summons for excessive noise for using a bull horn.

The protest began Monday around 5 Hartford City Hall, but passed by Mayor Luke Bronin's house. The mayor released a statement:

Police cruiser camera video released Oct. 5 shows the aftermath of a car chase from Hartford to West Hartford in June. Two Hispanic men were arrested. Officials say Sgt. Sean Spell, who is white, is seen stomping on one of them.

Activists were protesting Spell's actions and a delay in releasing the video.

Spell retired in August. His attorney says the video didn't capture all that was going on at the scene, but he declined to elaborate.

A prosecutor is investigating whether excessive force was used.

The Hartford Common Council released a statement saying:

“The release of this video is not only troubling but long overdue. While a rush to judgment benefits no one, the image itself does little to help police-community relations. Moreover, the delay by the state’s attorney’s office in its' release only adds to residents’ concerns about transparency when it comes to law enforcement policing their own.

Beyond the video, this incident highlights current policies that allow a law enforcement officer to accrue significant overtime and retire while under investigation. Regardless of the outcome of this inquiry, the officer in question leaves the department not only under a cloud of suspicion, but also with a significant pension, funded by taxpayer dollars. Should this investigation yield a finding of excessive force, that fact will add insult to injury and potentially further damage the already fragile view of police officers held by some members of the community.

Had the video’s release not been delayed, perhaps the city could have intervened to postpone such actions. It is incumbent upon us as city leaders to ensure that our policies and procedures do not position public servants to be rewarded for abusing the public trust.

Our community has seen countless incidents across this country of unarmed and/or subdued citizens being confronted by police, at times with deadly consequences. Hartford has had its' own unfortunate cases of the use of excessive force, including the years of confrontation between police and the community that resulted in the Cintron v. Vaughn decree. The actions viewed on the police video reinforce that we still have much to do, to strengthen police-community relations, and a review of our existing policies is a first and critical step.”

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