Connecticut police officer pleads guilty in rights probe

Hartford (AP) - One of four East Haven police officers arrested on civil rights charges pleaded guilty Friday to using unreasonable force during an arrest.

Sgt. John Miller, former president of the police union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford to violating a person's civil rights by using unreasonable force, prosecutors said. Miller admitted that on Jan. 3, 2010, he struck a handcuffed individual while the victim was in the secure custody of two other East Haven police officers, authorities said.

"The conduct of this officer, in striking a defenseless individual, is abhorrent," said U.S. Attorney David Fein. "This case reminds us that no one is above the law. This police officer abused his authority and violated the civil rights of a person he is sworn to protect. Such conduct will never be tolerated."

Miller, 43, was charged in January with using unreasonable force and conspiracy against rights. The conspiracy charge will be dismissed and the two sides are recommending Miller be spared prison time when he is sentenced Feb. 1, as long as he continues to comply with a cooperation agreement.

Cases against the other three officers are pending. They have pleaded not guilty.

Miller is on administrative leave from the police department. His lawyer, Donald Cretella, said Miller has four medals of honor.

"Soon he will be able to get on with his life but today is a very difficult time for the Miller family and a very sad day for the East Haven Police Department," Cretella said.

Authorities say the officers assaulted people while they were handcuffed, unlawfully searched Latino businesses and harassed and intimidated people, including advocates, witnesses and other officers who tried to investigate or report misconduct or abuse the officers committed.

Cretella stressed that the allegation against Miller did not involve mistreating any minorities.

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