NAACP: Justice officials question Goode's credibility, won't pursue criminal case

The U.S. Attorney's Office has no plans to pursue criminal charges against a former New London police officer accused of planting drugs during an arrest in 2010, members of the NAACP familiar with the case said Thursday.

The news came during a closed-door meeting Thursday between NAACP members and criminal justice officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Haven, according to Tamara Lanier, the criminal justice chairwoman for the state NAACP.

Lanier said the meeting was called as the NAACP continued to question publicly why complaints against former New London Police Officer Roger Newton and the department as a whole had gone unanswered. Lance Goode, who has a civil lawsuit pending against Newton and the city, claimed that during a 2010 arrest drugs were planted, and obtained a police video to back his claim.

"They were certainly clear the matter involving Lance Goode was final — they are not going to pursue charges," Lanier said. "We debated their rationale and reasoning on why they didn't believe the complaint merited at least presenting it to a grand jury.

"They basically said they didn't believe Lance," Lanier said. "It became about Lance and his credibility rather than the officer and his credibility."

A spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on Thursday's meeting.

Goode's case and circulation of the video had led to a series of meetings to discuss race relations in the city and had generated complaints from other New London residents about their treatment at the hands of police, Lanier said.

But the complaints apparently were not enough to demonstrate to investigators a pattern of police misconduct, said Lanier, who disagrees with that assessment. She said officials at Thursday's meeting, which included Acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly, only hinted that the civil case may be revisited.

Lanier said the NAACP is pursuing other avenues, in part to appease citizens who believe they were mistreated by police.

"The people had a lot of courage to come out — hoping for change and accountability," Lanier said.

Attorney Elliot Spector, who represents Newton in the civil case, said he would have been surprised if criminal charges were levied.

"A careful viewing of the entire video shows there was no planting of any drugs," Spector said. "There is substantial evidence to indicate this allegation is not founded."

Attorney Conrad Seifert, who represents Goode in the civil case, declined to comment on any criminal investigation. But, responding to a previous comment by Spector, Seifert said the video is an important piece of evidence, "not an Internet fabrication."

g.smith@theday.com

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