Hartford, CT — In a glaring case of police brutality caught on video, a Hartford police officer may actually face some semblance of accountability for stomping a handcuffed man’s head so hard into the ground that it bounced.
Last week, former Sgt. Sean Spell, 46, was taken into custody by state police on charges of third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace, according to officials.
Spell was arrested by state police and immediately released on $1,000 bail.
On June 4, officers pursued Ricardo Perez and Emilio Diaz through the streets of Hartford and West Hartford in a vehicle police suspected to be stolen. When the chase ended, officers arrested the pair — but the details of those arrests are now the subject of multiple investigations.
According to reports, officers punched, struck, and used their Tasers against Perez and Diaz — both men’s mugshots show facial injuries.
The concerns over excessive force intensified in October, after Hartford police released dash camera footage of a controversial arrest — showing Spell in street clothes walk up to a handcuffed suspect sitting on the curb, and kick his head into the ground — for no apparent reason.
“That there is obviously of serious concern to the police department and now to the state’s attorney’s office,” Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley asserted, according to WFSB.
Ricardo Perez’ mugshot — eyes bruised and one swollen shut, a large bandage on his forehead, and his right jaw alarmingly distended — was sufficiently disturbing to spark an immediate internal investigation, even before the department viewed the video.
“The following morning, based on the appearance solely on the mugshot because we weren’t aware of the video at that point, we started an immediate internal investigation,” Foley stated.
While Hartford police initially claimed Perez’ dramatic head injuries occurred when the vehicle’s airbags deployed, the dash camera footage shows a cop in street clothes — later identified as Sgt. Spell, a 20-year veteran of the force — walking up to the handcuffed man sitting calmly on the curb and deliberately, stomping his head onto the ground with enough force, it bounces.
Spell, like many cops facing potential punishment retired from the department to avoid the consequences of his actions. However, because this story got enough attention, it appears that he won’t escape accountability.
Retiring or resigning following accusations of excessive force is how rogue officers are able to move from one department to the next without facing sufficient, if any, disciplinary measures. The phenomenon has become so prevalent, it’s earned a moniker: “Gypsy cops.”
You can’t stomp a handcuffed man’s head into the ground and think it is okay.
Andrew Crumbie, Spell’s attorney, said of his client’s arrest, “While we hoped for a different outcome, we appreciate the painstaking and difficult work the investigators and State’s Attorney had to do in this case.”
During the investigation, the Hartford Courant reports that less than half of the cops involved agreed to speak to investigators. The other officers opted to protect their violent brother in blue with silence.
According to the Courant, Hartford police Chief James Rovella started that investigation the day after the men were taken into custody, based on the severe facial injuries that the two men bore in their booking photographs.
In those photos, Perez has a deeply bruised and swollen left eye, and a large gash runs across Diaz’s forehead.
“Right away, we released a mug shot and contacted the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office shortly there after. We had already initiated our own internal investigation,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said. “Our goal was transparency and accountability, and that’s what our citizens want… We have a lot of procedures in place here to make sure that happens.”
Foley noted this week that the investigation is “far from over.”
Currently, there is no law on the books that could revoke Spell’s pension if he is convicted. So, this abusive officer is likely not too worried about the slap on the wrist that he is about to receive. For the rest of his life, Spell will draw an annual pension of $129,977 — at 46-years-old — he will be entirely retired with a massive taxpayer-funded golden parachute. Must be nice.