Torrington, CT — Sgt. Gerald “Jay” Peters has been a police officer since 1992, serving in East Granby before coming to the Torrington police department. For decades he may have been abusing folks but he was never caught until now. Utterly shocking video shows Peters lose control, pepper spray and then body slam a handcuffed man in a wheelchair who posed no threat whatsoever.
In a rare move, Peters was fired over the incident this week. It took the department nearly a year to “investigate” the incident and decide Peters violated policy and deserved to be fired. However, he was not charged and is already fighting for his job back.
The incident unfolded on May 23, 2020 which prompted a use of force report and subsequent investigation. Apparently watching a video of a cop attacking a handcuffed man in a wheelchair is not enough evidence and it took another 345 days to come to the decision to fire Peters.
The incident was captured on two separate body cameras. It shows officers near Christopher Spetland of Torrington, who is in a wheelchair with his hands cuffed behind his back. Spetland is taunting the officers and telling them he can “kick their asses” but this was all talk as the man was handcuffed behind his back, surrounded by cops and seated in a wheelchair.
Despite being no threat at all, Peters decided that Spetland’s mouth was enough to escalate force so he pepper sprayed the restrained man directly in his eyes. As Spetland writhed in pain from the chemical agent that was just blasted in his face, Peters then grabs him and slams him to the floor.
“We’ve had enough,” Peters says to Spetland after he forces him from the wheelchair and slams him to the concrete floor.
“Are ya done yet? Are ya done yet?” Peters shouts down at the incapacitated man. “Are ya done with the kicking and the fighting with the officers? Are ya done yet? Are ya finished? You’re gonna go in the cell, you’re gonna relax and then you’ll be treated like a gentleman, after you knock it off.”
According to police, Spetland was in jail for public intoxication and an assault complaint. He was clearly intoxicated which is why officers placed him in the wheelchair, so they wouldn’t have to drag him around.
Peters would go on to justify the force used against Spetland by claiming the handcuffed man in the wheelchair had brushed Peters’ leg with his foot, claiming it was a kick.
The Hartford Courant was able to reach Peters by phone, who defended his actions and told them he did nothing wrong.
“The video shows seconds of action and not all of the facts and circumstances that led to my actions,” he said. “I maintain that I acted in accordance with department policy and didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
He then pointed out that he will likely soon be hired back on.
“I welcome transparency in this matter and love my job and the city where I have been a lifelong resident. I have retained the services of attorney Timothy Brignole and look forward to resolving the matter,” said Peters.
Torrington police chief William R. Baldwin Jr. disagrees and says Peters’ firing is the right decision. Baldwin explained that an independent investigation was conducted by the Southington-based Daigle Law Group, which concluded that Peters violated department policy on use of force, reports the Courant.
“We wanted to have an objective, fresh set of eyes on this to determine whether or not policy was violated,” he said. “They affirmed there was no need to do what he did.”
“Each individual officer will be held accountable for their own actions, and the actions of this officer is not indicative of the officers of the Torrington Police Department,” the chief said in a statement.
For now, Peters remains off the force. However, given the tendency among police departments to fire bad cops only to rehire them weeks later, there is a good chance that the man attacking a handcuffed man in a wheelchair in the video below, may soon be a cop again.