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Bridgeport cop charged with mishandling a gun

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Officer Juan Santiago

BRIDGEPORT – Juan Santiago, a 29-year veteran of the city police department, was arrested Monday morning by state police for a Dec. 17 incident in which he accidentally shot himself in a crowded bagel restaurant.
Santiago, 56, surrendered at Troop I in Bethany after being notified there was a warrant for his arrest, State Police said.

He was charged with one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm and released on a promise to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Golden Hill Street on Feb. 18, a state police spokesman said.

Santiago was originally scheduled for a Feb. 17 court arraignment, but  that is President’s Day and the courts are closed. Santiago’s lawyer, John R. Gulash, declined comment.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, the state police spokesman, said in a press release that “after an extensive investigation it was determined that the accused mishandled the firearm, which resulted in his own leg injury.”

Santiago had been treated for a minor leg injury from the gunshot wound and released from St. Vincent’s Medical Center a few hours after the incident.

The lack of an arrest in Santiago’s case had drawn two protest rallies to the front of the Bridgeport Police Department, where attendees claimed that the veteran officer was being treated differently because he is a cop.

At the most recent event, on Feb. 4, the protesters demanded to know why Santiago hadn’t be charged while a man who accidentally fired his gun in his home on Jan. 28 had been arrested almost immediately.

The suspect in the January case, 23-year-old Kenneth Sullivan, of Midland Street was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in the third degree. He was released after posting $1,500 bond.

On Tuesday, organizers of the protests said they thought Santiago should’ve faced more charges.

“The officer who was in a public place was probably more reckless and probably endangered more people,” said Palin Smith, who wondered why the officer hadn’t been hit with the same charges as Sullivan.

“It’s still not exactly fair and equal application, but at least it’s something, finally,” Jonathan Hardy, a firearms instructor from Meriden.

Categories: General
Daniel Tepfer

10 Responses

  1. joe says:

    Fire this pig and throw him in jail

  2. Joe R says:

    You people have it all wrong and unfortunately Bridgeport has a Chief with no stones. This was a simple case that should have been handled by Internal Affairs. The difference between Santiago and the general public was that he was acting in his capacity as a police officer and obviously needs retraining in how to handle a firearm. He should have been disciplined i.e. two week suspension without pay and a firearms retraining class. As a result of the Chief not having the capacity of making any type of decision in this case, he appeases the masses and dishes it off to the State Police the same agency that couldn’t properly put together a report on the Sandy Hook school shooting.

  3. darkk says:

    Well, Big Brother is finally forced to butt hurt one of his own….Bravo!

  4. Alex says:

    I’m glad they finally decided to do this but I still believe it doesn’t take an “extensive” investigation to figure out that a cop discharging a weapon and shooting himself in the leg in a bagel shop is unlawful. This should have been done on day 1, not 40+.

  5. John Gennette says:

    It’s about time. If that were any of us we would have been behind bars with

  6. martel says:

    Still preferential treatment.

    “Kenneth Sullivan, 23, of Midland Street, was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in the third degree. He was released after posting $1,500 bond.”

    Where are the additonal criminal charges for Santiago? Why wasn’t he required to post a bond?

  7. The Stu says:

    I sincerely feel bad for both people who “accidently” discharged their firearm. I don’t know the details of either incident.
    But, what I am saying that no officer or official should get a pass because of their government employment or position.
    What concerns me is that a veteran police officer would have his gun drawn in a bagel shop, when there were no threats, what the hell was he thinking?

  8. Steve says:

    Not to side one way or the other, you cannot commit an unlawful discharge of a weapon if you fire it accidentally. This arrest is simply to make someone (The General Public) feel better. If it is proved to be an accident it will not stand. Much like the new gun laws, this will just make someone feel good.

  9. Double Standard says:

    This guy had better lose his job.
    And his pension.

    29 year veteran and he handles a firearm like a teenager seeing a gun for the first time.

    Good thing people protested.

  10. West Side Willie says:

    Better late than never! It is, however, refreshing to see the law being applied equally. Sometimes people forget, but police are citizens – subject to the law – just like the rest of us. As such, the law should be applied equally to all.