Bridgeport, CT — A Connecticut cop has been suspended this week after video surfaced showing him bash a teen in the head with his pistol for seemingly no reason at all. At the time the officer struck the teen, the teen’s arms were in the air and he was listening to officer commands.
The incident happened Friday night and was captured on video by a neighbor. According to police, they were investigating a stolen car and pulled the teen driver over. Bridgeport police officer, Gianni Capozziello, then yells at the teen to put his hands up and put them out of the window.
The teen, who was inside the car with the windows rolled up, took a few seconds to comply, opened the door and got out of the car as he may not have been able to hear the officer’s commands. As he gets out, he pulls his pants up, which is interpreted by Capozziello as a threat.
“I observed both of his hands drop below his waistline,” Capozziello wrote in his report.
“Fearing [he] may be reaching for a weapon, I utilized the magazine well area of (his) pistol as an emergency impact weapon,” the officer wrote.
However, as the video — that the cops did not know was being taken — shows, the teen was no threat. He had his hands in the air and was complying with the order to walk toward the front of the vehicle when he was struck. There was no reason whatsoever to bash the teen in the head with his pistol and then begin hitting him on the ground.
“If what’s on that video is true, this officer needs to be prosecuted…terminated and looked at by the State’s Attorney’s Office for assault,” says Mayor Joe Ganim. “It’s outrageous. It won’t be tolerated by anybody who is a member of the Bridgeport police department.”
Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez said he put Capozziello on administrative leave “as soon as I became aware of the video” Saturday.
“Following the officer’s dismissal from duty, I instructed Internal Affairs to retain the dashcam and bodycam videos of the arrest scene and to begin an investigation,” the chief said. “Everything that can immediately be done to address this incident has been done.”
Naturally, the police union is urging the public “not to rush to judgement” and released the same canned response of how the officer’s safety is paramount so the rights of others can and will be trampled out of sheer fear alone.
In a statement, Sgt. Charles Paris, President of AFSCME Local 1159, the Bridgeport Police Union said at the time of the incident in question, Capozziello was “conducting a felony stop of an unknown occupant of a reported stolen vehicle in a location that is known for high drug trafficking and weapons. These are known facts that have already been reported, and should be kept in mind before any rush to judgement based on a Facebook video.”
Paris said the union can’t comment on a case that is under investigation, but he added that the police is “dealing with adverse working conditions — such as the decision to split up two-person squad cars” that can put officers at risk, according to the CT Post.
“This is a difficult and emotional time for everyone, including the dedicated police officers who proudly protect and serve our community,” the statement read. “Let’s use this moment as an opportunity for constructive dialogue and meaningful action to improve public safety and foster a better understanding of the challenges facing Bridgeport police officers.”
Whether or not the car was stolen is unknown at this time as well as the teen’s condition.
If the car was stolen, the teen needed to be held accountable. However, because this officer couldn’t control his rage, this teen will likely be financially awarded at the taxpayers expense.