Hartford (Connecticut) Police are investigating two of their own for possible infractions after a video reportedly showing police brutality surfaced that showed officers restraining and beating a black man in an alleyway. Hartford authorities have supported the officers involved, stating that there was far more to the situation than what the video displays.
WFSB in Hartford reported June 30 that a video recounting a lengthy takedown by two Hartford Police officers has generated an ongoing investigation into the arrest. In the video clip, one officer, identified as Detective Brian Salkeld, has the suspect, Samuel Bryant, in a choke hold while a second lawman, Officer Robert Fogg, repeatedly strikes Bryant with his nightclub. Fogg appears to hit Bryant as many as a dozen times before he falls to the ground, Salkeld still gripping him in a choke hold.
“I’m not here to condemn or justice officers actions, that will occur after an investigation,” Hartford Police Chief James Rovella said. He noted that a report released by the department found that the amount of force used by the officers was appropriate and proportional to the resistance they were shown by the suspect. He also admitted that the matter was still under investigation.
There have been allegations of police brutality following the release of the video (which, according to WFSB, has been seen on social media over 100,000 times), but police are saying that what is seen in the video (it can be found on YouTube, but warning: explicit language and violence), although it looks somewhat condemnatory, does not reveal the entire story. Samuel Bryant, police contend, was a convicted felon on probation and had in his possession an open wine cooler and a knife. Police said they also believe Bryant was armed with a gun. However, after the arrest, no firearm found.
Chief Rovella outlined the part of the arrest alleged to have taken place prior to the arrest. “Bryant struggles and breaks away,” he said, “elbows Salkeld in the nose and makes Salkeld stumble, (and the) taser didn’t take because of his heavy coat.”
Crack cocaine was reportedly found on Bryant after the takedown, which has resulted in his facing related charges. According to Hartford Police, he also later apologized for elbowing the Detective Salkeld in the face. His action resulted in Salkeld having a broken nose.
Hartford Police are still suffering from the bad press resulting from a federal lawsuit filed in May that also accuses the department of police brutality. In that particular case, according to the Hartford Courant, Jeffrey Sweet alleges that his nose was broken in October 2013 when a police officer struck him in the face and pulled him from his vehicle after he ran a traffic light. A video of the arrest surfaced showing Sweet being held down and surrounded by as many as six police officers, but it does not show the actual punch to the face. However, in the police report, Hartford Police officer Garrett Fancher wrote that he had administered “pain compliance,” striking Sweet in the face because, when attempting to get him out of his vehicle, he said Sweet refused to let go of his seatbelt.
All charges against Jeffrey Sweet were subsequently dropped. Despite the federal lawsuit, Sweet never filed a complaint with the Hartford Police Department.
The Samuel Bryant arrest/alleged police brutality video comes in the wake of several videotaped beatings and shootings by police officers across the nation, many of which have been met with public outrage. With more and more videos showing alleged police misconduct, it has been suggested that police officers begin wearing body cameras in order to hopefully capture entire incidents, therefore presenting an official video record as opposed to having to rely on social media videos (not to mention individual testimonies, which can be accurate and not) that might not, in cases such as the Bryant case (according to Hartford Police), show the entire story.