NAACP seeking update from feds on New London police complaint

Members of the state NAACP and its local chapters expect to meet today with federal criminal justice officials in hopes they are still investigating allegations that a former New London police officer planted drugs at the scene of an arrest in 2010.

Tamara Lanier, criminal justice chairwoman for the state NAACP, said it's been more than two years since the group first brought to light a controversial video that some claim shows former New London police officer Roger Newton planting drugs at the scene of the arrest of Lance Goode.

And while the case is part of a pending civil lawsuit against Newton and other members of the New London Police Department, it remains unclear whether a federal criminal investigation ever was completed.

"We brought the complaints, the statements, the videos," Lanier said. "We want to know the status of our complaints. They led us to believe an indictment would be coming."

But frequent calls to both the U.S. Attorney's Office and to local legislators over the past year and a half have gotten her no closer to an answer, she said.

A spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office this week declined to comment.

"There has been back-peddling," New London NAACP chapter President Don Wilson said. "It's another empty vault."

Wilson said citizens expect some type of support from state and federal authorities considering the mountain of evidence brought forward in the wake of publicity surrounding the Goode case. He said complaints against the police department - everything from racial profiling to police brutality - showed a systemic and "flagrant disregard for the rights of minorities."

"It appears nothing's been done on the civil side and nothing's been done on the criminal side," Lanier said.

Conrad Seifert, an attorney in Old Lyme who is representing Goode, could not be reached for comment. Newton's attorney in the civil case, Elliot B. Spector of Hartford, disputes the claims of drug-planting, which he said are based on a "You Tube video fabrication."

In regard to any criminal investigation, Spector said he would be "shocked if they didn't look at the evidence and drop the whole thing."

"There's nothing there," he said. "Somebody took a little snippet (of video). They claimed it was something it was not."

The Lance Goode case will be a topic of discussion at the NAACP's Hoodie Rally at 3 p.m. on Aug. 11 at Howard T. Brown Park in Norwich. The event is sponsored by both New London and Norwich NAACP chapters.

Seizing on the national publicity generated by the Trayvon Martin case and hoping to draw attention to racial profiling incidents in southeastern Connecticut, the rally leads up to an Aug. 24 march in Washington.

Lanier and Wilson both said they were not quite sure what to expect at today's meeting.

"For us to have confidence our concerns are being taken seriously, they're going to have to do more than pay us lip service," Lanier said.

She said likely attendants at the meeting include Acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly; John Hughes, the U.S. Attorney's Office chief of the civil division; and Rhonda Glover, assistant special agent in charge of the New Haven division of the FBI.

g.smith@theday.com

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