Fired New London police officer nears reinstatement

New London - A physical exam appears to be the lone hurdle between Thomas Northup and a return to his job as an officer with the New London Police Department, city officials say.

Northup has not been a city employee since March 22, 2012, when he was fired by Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio after an internal investigation into an Aug. 24, 2011, shooting. Northup had shot and wounded an unarmed man who stole and crashed an ice truck. The man, Curtis Cunningham, later tested positive for PCP use.

An internal investigation determined Northup had violated department policy on the use of excessive and deadly force.

But the city's decision to fire Northup was criticized in a report issued in October by the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration. The city was appealing the decision until Monday, when the City Council voted to end the appeal.

City attorney Brian Estep filed a withdrawal of the appeal in New London Superior Court on Thursday.

Northup's return to the department will depend on a mandated physical, a review of Northup's "fitness for duty," which will ensure he is able to physically perform his job duties, Estep said. He said that is normal for any city employee. Estep said the city's personnel department was in the process of notifying Northup of the requirement.

"We're prepared to bring him back on board once he passes the physical," said Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard.

Reichard said Northup, upon his return, will have to perform a recertification mandated for all officers before hitting the street.

The council's vote to end the appeal came amid settlement talks between the city and Northup. Details of the settlement were not disclosed by either side.

Attorney Richard Gudis, who represents Northup, said "Officer Northup is very pleased with this result because he wants to get back to the business of being a police officer."

Gudis said Wednesday he is considering a lawsuit against the mayor and the police department administration for what he calls "baseless accusations" against Northup and a "botched internal investigation."

While Northup is pleased the path is now cleared for him to return to work, Gudis said he believes Northup was unfairly villainized.

Gudis said Northup is "contemplating litigation against the mayor in both his individual and official capacity."

During his time off, Gudis said, Northup "was doing what he could to put food on his family's table."

That included applications to other police officer positions.

He said Northup is due back pay to his date of termination, minus about a month during which Northup would have been unable to work because of an injury sustained while with the Air Force Reserve.

Gudis said he has advised Northup not to comment on the matter.

g.smith@theday.com

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