Monday, November 22, 2010

The Incident in the Lobby

(A still image of the survelliance video on the day in question.  None of the parties involved appear in this image.)

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano has said he will appoint Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon to the position of permanent Police Chief for the Common Council's reconsideration. 

The decision comes amidst accounts of the potential candidate's alleged "incendiary personality," and "bullying actions" reported to the Middletown Eye.

When asked about these allegations, the Acting Chief has categorically denied each one.

One of these allegations concerns an incident that happened in the Police Headquarters' lobby in July.  When asked about the incident, Acting Chief McMahon's explanation contained distinctly different details from those provided by several sources.  McMahon said that the account presented to the Eye unfairly represented the actual event.  He also said that he had surveillance video of the incident, and would be happy to provide a viewing to the Eye.

The Story on the Street

In essence, with some slight difference in detail each time the story was conveyed, the allegation is that a juvenile female went to the Police Station to visit a boyfriend who had been arrested in a drug and warrant sweep (Operation Expanded Shield).  When she was denied the visit, she asked to file a complaint, and she claims she was confronted by an angry and belligerent policeman (later identified as McMahon), who bullied her, shouted at her and taunted her with the complaint form.  She claimed, according to accounts, that McMahon lifted the chair she was sitting in and threw it against the wall, and then had her arrested.

McMahon's Response

According to McMahon, the juvenile did arrive at the front desk to see her jailed boyfriend, a man in his mid-thirties who had been picked up in the sweep (Operation Expanded Shield).  McMahon said the juvenile demanded that the front desk officer admit her to lockup, and when denied, she immediately became abusive, cursing and crying.

The Acting Chief who was with his staff on break from the sweep, heard the shouting in the lobby and emerged to see what was happening.  According to him, he came out to the lobby, spoke to the juvenile and told her that she could not see her boyfriend because she was not family, a clergy member nor legal representation.  He claims she continued to curse and shout at him, and demanded to file a complaint.  He retrieved a complaint form and brought it to her, he said, to explain it.  McMahon said she tried to snatch it from his hand.  He pulled it away and sat down to explain to her how to fill it out.

He says she continued to be abusive, and left the premises.  The chief stayed in the lobby speaking with a man whose nephew had also been arrested in the sweep.  While they were talking, the juvenile returned and McMahon says she continued to be abusive, cursing and crying as she sat on a waiting room bench.  The chief approached her, and said he told her to leave, and when she refused, he grabbed the corner of the bench, slid it across the floor, in an arc, so it was facing the exit and, he said, he told her again that she had to leave. According to the Acting Chief,  when she continued to refuse, and continued to shout and curse, the chief approached the man he had been speaking with in the lobby to ask if the juvenile's behavior was disturbing the man. The man said it was, and the Acting Chief called a female officer who came into the lobby, cuffed the juvenile and arrested her for breach of peace.

I viewed the video, and because it has no audio track, I could not confirm the words exchanged between McMahon and the juvenile.  However, it appeared that McMahon did not taunt the juvenile with the complaint form.  It's also clear that he moved the bench, sliding it counterclockwise to face the door.  It was not lifted from the ground, nor slammed to the wall or floor.  McMahon's body language did not appear particularly aggressive, though a part of the action was off camera.  The juvenile appeared agitated throughout.  There was no visual indication that the Acting Chief touched the juvenile until the female officer needed some assistance in having her cuffed.

Reports are that the breach of peace charge issued in the arrest was thrown out of court.

The juvenile has not, so far, filed a complaint against anyone on the police force, including the Acting Chief.


Vinnie said...

Good job reporting, Ed!
I believe this video falls under the freedom of information act and maybe more citizens should go view it. The chief has received a bum-rap long enough!

Elizabeth Bobrick said...

Really impressive, Ed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Abusive" is one of those empty institutional words journalists should avoid. On the other hand, shoving a bench a distraught woman is sitting on is threatening. It suggests an impulsive personality.

Alexa McClain said...

This should be on the FRONT page of the Middletown Press! I'm sure that the juvenile's allegations will be recycled repeatedly throughout Middletown, adding fuel to the political fire against McMahon...while only those of us who log onto the Middletown Eye will have access to this investigative report.

On a side note: McMahon was instrumental in helping our family with the bullying of my Granddaughter at WWMS. His team of officers followed in his footsteps, also trying to do what they could and continue to do so ... as the BOE has NOT stepped up to the plate as of this writing. The bully and her recruited cohorts still taunt my Granddaughter!

I truly hope that politics can be set aside and that the BOE will do what is right! They can start with confirming McMahon who has shown his leadership and concern for the everyday citizen. And then maybe, just maybe, they will find the fortitude to stand up against the bully and save my Granddaughter from the abuse she has incurred since SEPTEMBER 7th !!!!

**Dr Frechette, are you listening!!

Anonymous said...

Good for you Ed! I have to believe that the stories of "bullying" by McMahon are a continuation of the political ploys being used by the democrats. The simple truth is that they don't like McMahon because he won't ever yes them to death. What is sad is that they will attempt to ruin a man's professional career to further their own political agenda! I can't wait to hear what the new excuse will be from the magnificant 8 this time around. Also, could someone tell a few of the democratic members of the Council that it is ILLEGAL to demand that a person worship in a particular locality; or comment about a person's "age"; or vote no because perhaps a relative of theirs didn't get a job...

Anonymous said...

Actually Vinnie

The tape is not subject to the Freedom of Information Statutes as it is specifically exempt as a record of the juvenile's arrest. It might potentially be releasable to the public if the child was not identifiable. The Chief by inviting the public to view the tape is in violation of the confidentiality statutes governing juvenile arrests. Violations of these confidentiality statutes can result in civil suits against the Chief and City and potentially the loss of federal funds to the State and City.

Anonymous said...

To 1:41 p.m. Why are you not asking where did all these "rumors" originate from? It seems to me that the tape exists in evidence at PD AND I sure, with the juvenile court. Perhaps someone should ask the public defender if he/she is releasing information for political folly? Just a thought but I doubt that it was the Police Department releasing a tape and then starting a false rumor about the contents. Just saying... makes you think though doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

"When asked about the incident, Acting Chief McMahon's explanation contained distinctly different details from those provided by several sources." This statement raises a number of questions: are these police sources, and were they eyewitness accounts? Also, were they previously reported in the Eye, or were these allegations made to Mr. McKeon some time in the past and argued here for the first time? This lack of specific sourcing makes for problems in an incident with legal implications. It sounds like a straw-man argument -- with vague anonymous allegations put forward to be easily knocked down by the Acting Chief. The chief's foes are going to have a field day with this!

Anonymous said...

i dont like the chief but that dosent matter. what matters is the fact that a civilian, civilian reporter and not someone bound by law to not release any information about the arrest of a minor saw3 this tape. who gave ed the ok to view this evidence concerning a minor. was it the desk supervisor ? was it the police IT division ? was it the chief ? sorry ed but you should have never been shown even photos of the incident, its against the law. so who showed ya ed ??????

Anonymous said...

Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-134 provides that all records regarding juveniles are confidential. This explicitly includes "records of law enforcement agencies including fingerprints, photographs and physical descriptions". These records may only be released upon an order of a superior court judge.

So unless the chief obtained such an order he has clearly broken the law. Ed, your investigation has irrefutably demonstrated that our chief is willing to break the law to further his own purposes. Ed, are you going to notify the State's Attorney of the crime you have uncovered? Or do you suppose that the chief will arrest himself? Or do you think that he will just continue to insist that the rules do not apply to him?

Anonymous said...

Funny how things work out. Ed posts this article to help his buddy and instead he has given him the rope he needed to hang himself. Ironic

Anonymous said...

"She claimed, according to accounts, that McMahon lifted the chair she was sitting in and threw it against the wall, and then had her arrested." Such casualness in sourcing might be OK if your covering the blueberry festival but not with such a serious matter involving a juvenile. That's hearsay and no editor worth his salt would allow it.

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Anon 7:00 AM, I believe that's CT General Statute 46b-124.

Elizabeth Bobrick said...

Re: Anonymous #9 posting:

In the old days of pre-digital journalism, no "editor worth his salt" would print anonymous letters, either.

The Middletown Eye is a community blog, and does not claim to be a paper of record.

The thoughtful criticism and information in some of these entries are good to see. At the same time, let's keep in mind that Ed is doing the community a service by publishing whatever information he has in order to counter unsubstantiated rumors.

If you want to see stuff that "no editor worth his salt" should publish, have a look at the Middletown Press blog.

Anonymous said...

elizabeth i agree with you no one should bash ed for his reporting. to who ever said something about ed "worth his salt" should be ashamed of themselves. ed has proven his wieght in gold by reporting in writting a criminal act commited concerning youthfull offender/juvenile records being sealed from the public to protect the "yutes" civial rights. clearly this teenagers rights have been infringed on with that ed can now identify the "yute" in the video (i dont think he will) but that is where it lies lizabeth. a law conerning protection of the identity of a "yute" was blainantly trampled upon by ed viewing the tape/digital recording. so i say HURRRRRRAYYYYYY for EDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!! for vinnie sorry but your guy is what makes the bad press not the other way around. ed make sure you wear a tie when you give your deposition to the juvenile criminal investagations unit and hopefully the person who showed you the tape will go before JUDGE HANDY she hates kidds and people in genral and sends everybody to the pokky for the holidays. I LOVE YOU ED AND I STILL LOVE YOU TOO MR.C !!!