Officer Jason Santiago with the New Haven Police Department was one of several officers to respond to an incident involving a couple that had driven their vehicle on a curb and began to argue over the damage. The police body cam footage, which was recently released, allegedly shows several officers, including Santiago, detaining a man who was lying on the ground and was accused of being intoxicated. Santiago allegedly kicked the man in the groin while he was down and is then seen in the clip ABC 7 made available to the public picking the man up by his braids.
Officer Santiago is then seen punching the man in the face while he still handcuffed which sends him back to the ground. The man then begins to bleed from his mouth.
Santiago says he punched the man after he spat on him. The man was later charged with assaulting an officer. It wasn’t until after the video footage was viewed and an internal affairs investigation was conducted that New Haven police chief, Otoniel Reyes, spoke out regarding the incident that occurred back on Christmas morning. According to Reyes, he believes the officer should be fired and plans to share his recommendations with the Board of Police Commissioners.
While the body cam footage does show questionable behavior on Santiago’s part, the internal affairs investigation determined that the officer had applied excessive force and violated departmental de-escalation orders while responding to the call. Reyes has referred to his officers’ behavior as being “reprehensible” and even noted that his officers have been speaking out after protests were held in honor of George Floyd.
The police chief said, “We did that because we recognize that it’s critically important that the trust of our community is intact, that our community knows they can trust their police department.” Reyes also assured the public that the state attorney’s office will be “exploring criminal charges against the officer.” Mayor Justin Elicker also commented on the incident saying he agreed with Reyes’ recommendations to have Santiago fired.
Did a New Haven, CT police officer apply excessive force during your encounter with him/her?
When a police officer comes in contact with a suspect, they are expected to only apply a level of force that is deemed reasonable. Anything above that is considered to be excessive and is prohibited. If a police officer in Connecticut harmed you as a result of applying excessive force, USAttorneys.com would be happy to get you connected with a CT police brutality lawyer who can explain what your next steps should be if you are seeking justice.