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FBI arrest four East Haven police officers on charges linked to racial profiling

Immigrant rights activist Rev. James Manship arrested by East Haven PD, 02.19.09

UPDATE: You can read a copy of the indictment below.

Finally justice for Father James Manship!

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested four East Haven police officers early this morning, Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. confirmed.

The four officers were among those being investigated as part of a Grand Jury investigation into alleged profiling and mistreatment of Latino residents, sources have said, although Maturo said he did not yet know the charges or what the arrests were related to specifically.

Officers Dennis Spaulding, David Cari, Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller were arrested in pre-dawn raids, with Miller and Cari being arrested at police headquarters, Maturo said. He said he expected the town’s lawyer, Hugh Keefe, to fax over a list of the charges later this morning.

The four police officers all were involved in the Feb. 19, 2009, arrest of the Rev. James Manship, St. Rose of Lima’s pastor, while he was videotaping police taking license plates off the wall at My Country Store on Main Street. Cari and Spaulding actually made the arrest, Zullo came on the scene soon afterward and Miller, East Haven’s police union president, was the field supervisor.

Spaulding had been on paid administrative leave for the past several months for issues relating to profiling of Latinos.

[…]

The arrests, which sources have said may be followed by additional arrests, follow by just over one month the Dec. 19 release of a U.S. Department of Justice letter that said the East Haven Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of systematically discriminating against Latinos in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Those findings were the result of a Justice Department civil probe that is separate from the criminal probe that resulted in the arrests, but related to many of the same issues.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that East Haven police have systematically broken federal law and violated the civil rights of Latinos. The findings were in a scathing letter that included a host of changes the town must make to correct the problems.

“The pattern or practice of discriminatory policing that we observed is deeply rooted in the department’s culture and substantially interferes with the ability of the EHPD to deliver services to the entire East Haven community,” the Justice Department found.

[…]

“In particular, we find that EHPD engages in discriminatory policing against Latinos, including but not limited to targeting Latinos for discriminatory traffic enforcement, treating Latino drivers more harshly than non-Latino drivers after a traffic stop and intentionally and woefully failing to design and implement internal systems of control that would identify, track and prevent such misconduct,” Perez wrote.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David Fein said at the time, “The residents of East Haven should not have to choose between effective crime-fighting and constitutional policing.”

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