Meriden, CT — Responding to reports of an intoxicated man asleep in the middle of the road, a Meriden, Connecticut police officer said, flatly, “I think we oughta just f***ing pop him.”
If by now you still have any lingering doubts about the widening disconnect between police and civilians — or the culture of violence and contempt rampant in police culture — this footage could tip your opinion. Though the incident was captured on video by dash camera and audio by body cam, it was only released on Thursday following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Record-Journal.
Officer John Slepski arrived on the scene on September 19, 2015, and approached the sleeping man — whom he immediately referred to as a “f***ing a**hole.” Officer John Slezak, already standing over the clearly intoxicated individual, seems as if he’s attempting to mitigate the potential that Slepski might go overboard in the interaction.
“He’s fine,” Slezak says to Slepski, “he just wants a ride to the hospital.”
“I know … f***ing douchebag,” Slepski responds, obviously annoyed he’s been summoned to help a citizen in need. “I think we oughta pepper spray this f***ing douche.”
“Alright. You gonna pepper spray him to get him up?” Slezak asks.
Though the video appears to show Slepski following through on that plan with a brief burst of spray, and his statement, “Whoa. That’ll wake you up,” Lt. Sal Nesci somehow determined, after an investigation, no pepper spray had been deployed.
In repeated attempts by the two officers to stir the man, Slepski continues to use vulgarities and is alarmingly disrespectful — particularly considering the man likely needed medical aid. Fortunately, this attitude and behavior didn’t escape his superiors’ attention.
“Your conduct while acting as a Meriden Police Officer is disgraceful,” Police Chief Jeffry Cossette wrote to Officer Slepski in a disciplinary letter, according to the Record-Journal. “Your dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment of this citizen in need of medical attention sickens me. Your actions did not perpetuate the mission of the Meriden Police Department.”
Slepski received a 60-day suspension as a result of the interaction and subsequent Internal Affairs investigation.
“If a fellow officer is behaving in a demeaning and demoralizing way toward a citizen, you have a Duty to Act,” Cossette wrote to Officer Slezak. “You said nothing to Officer Slepski as he directed the derogatory comments toward the citizen. When the citizen was directed to ‘crawl on the ground if he had to,’ you offered no assistance to this citizen. You allowed for this citizen to be treated in this matter.”
Slezak received a five-day suspension, though Detective John Williams, president of the police union, said Slezak had filed a grievance over the disciplinary action. Williams noted that Slezak “did not swear at the individual, did not cuss, did not call him any names, he even walked alongside of him when the individual stumbled to the roadway to catch him if he fell.” Williams added Slezak “cannot control what comes out of Slepski’s mouth.”
Slepski’s suspension began February 2 and Slezak’s on February 5.
The unidentified man appears lucky to have escaped the encounter unharmed.