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17 Bridgeport police officers in trouble following internal investigation

BRIDGEPORT - Some Bridgeport police officers could be in hot water as a result of an internal affairs investigation, which concludes at least 5 officers used excessive force and another 10 lied on reports about what happened at a house party they responded to on an excessive noise complaint at in October 2017.

A video from the party, obtained by Fox 61, shows party goers, some in handcuffs, being led out of the back yard of the Colorado Ave. residence by police. Initially, only two officers responded to a call for loud music being played at an outdoor birthday party. But, when party goers and police got into some verbal sparring, those officers called for back up.

44 additional offices showed up.

In photos obtained by FOX61, one of those arrested, Carmelo Mendez is shown shortly after the incident, with red circular marks on the side of his head in the shape of what is believed to be an officer's ring.

A statement, in response to the findings of the Office of Internal Affairs, by Sgt. Charles Paris, President, Bridgeport Police Union, AFSCME Local 1159, reads as follows:

“Bridgeport police officers responded to a neighborhood complaint about excessive noise. The video in question fails to represent the efforts our officers made to deescalate a situation that was made dangerous by the non-compliance of party participants, who refused to lower the music that was disturbing neighbors. It’s easy to condemn police officers. We’re doing our best to maintain order and keep our neighborhoods safe and peaceful.”

But the homeowner, Fernando Morales, said when they additional officers arrived, "they went straight to the backyard, throwing people against walls, putting tasers and guns on me."

In a statement released by the city, Spokesperson Rowena White wrote "The cited officers will go before a civilian tribunal, Bridgeport Police Commission, where the charges may result in disciplinary action that may include termination, suspension, demotion, or additional training.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando "AJ" Perez said, “The department will not tolerate misconduct from our officers. Since this incident and throughout my tenure as Chief, we have taken various proactive measures to ensure that officers are appropriately trained on safety, responding to a scene, and interacting with the community. Additionally, training for deescalation and community policing have become part of our standards in the academy and is also mandatory for veteran officers who did not receive this type of training while in the academy years ago."

This investigation was prompted by three civilian complaints. According to the city, when a civilian makes a complaint against an officer, it is investigated by the Office of Internal Affairs, and, under federal law, it is then referred to the Board of Police Commissioners.

Read the report here:

The Internal Affairs investigation

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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