Report: New London police officers punched, kicked suspect's head
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that then-Sgt. Lawrence J. Keating Jr. was among five officers and a former officer named in a federal lawsuit claiming excessive force. Lawrence M. Keating is the officer named in that suit.
A New London police officer and his supervisor punched and kicked a repeat domestic violence offender in the head as they struggled to take him into custody on March 13, leaving him with a black eye and a bruise on his forehead.
According to court records, police responded to 518 Ocean Ave. after receiving an anonymous report that Hector Maldonado, 25, of New London, was at the house in violation of a standing criminal protective order prohibiting him from having contact with a female victim for the next 50 years.
Maldonado jumped out a window and struggled with the officers who were waiting for him below. Patrolman David McElroy wrote in an incident report that he punched Maldonado "in the area of his right eyebrow" two times during the incident. The report says that Sgt. Lawrence J. Keating Jr., an 18-year veteran of the department who was promoted to lieutenant on March 21, kicked Maldonado in the same area.
Maldonado was charged with violation of a protective order and interfering with an officer and was presented in court on March 14. A judge set his bond at $150,000 and continued the case to April 11. At his arraignment, Maldonado was represented by attorney Dawn Bradinini from the public defender's office, who did not respond to a request for information.
A photograph taken by the state Department of Correction upon Maldonado's arrival on March 14 at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center shows Maldonado's right eye was black and swollen shut and that he had a bruise on the front left side of his forehead.
"His injuries, his condition on intake were noted," said departmental spokesman Andrius Banevicius. "A report was filed."
Though he could not comment on Maldonado's medical condition because of patient confidentiality laws, Banevicius said that in general, incoming inmates are assessed for medical needs and treated if necessary.
New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley did not respond to requests for information.
City Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio issued a statement Thursday saying the city has not received any complaints about the incident, which is under review.
"Hector Maldonado was arrested for violating a standing criminal protective order," Finizio said. "There was no request made for medical attention. No civilian complaint has been filed. No action has been taken against any police officer.
An internal review of the incident and arrest is being conducted by the police department, and no further details are releasable at this time because it is still an active investigation."
The city police union's leadership is aware of the incident but has not taken any action.
"I am familiar with the incident, but I haven't been notified by anybody of any investigation or complaint that the union would be required to be involved in," said Patrolman Todd Lynch, union president.
McElroy, who joined the department in 2009, is vice president of the police union. His report, written about two hours after Maldonado's arrest and submitted to court officials in support of Maldonado's criminal charges, provides details of the incident.
McElroy wrote that he was dispatched to the Ocean Avenue house at 8:59 p.m. to search for Maldonado. About 9:15 p.m. Maldonado, who had been spotted in a back stairwell, climbed out a window about 10 feet off the ground and struggled with the officers who waited for him below, according to the report.
McElroy grabbed Maldonado as he hung from the windowsill and pulled him to the ground, according to the report. McElroy and Officer Eric Hulland attempted to restrain Maldonado as he lay face down, but Maldonado "actively resisted" attempts the officers made to handcuff him by pushing up with his hands and attempting to stand up, according to the report.
"I struck Maldonado twice with a right handed closed fist in the area of his right eyebrow," McElroy wrote.
Maldonado continued his attempts to get up, and Keating told him he would be "tased" if he continued to resist, according to the report. Maldonado still tried to stand up, the report said.
"Sgt. Keating then struck Maldonado with his right foot in the same area of his right eye," McElroy wrote.
At that point, Maldonado stated, "That's enough," and placed his hands behind his back, allowing Hulland to take him into custody, according to the report.
Maldonado has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for second- and third-degree assault, criminal mischief, threatening, reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, larceny and violation of probation.
He has lived at various addresses in New London and in Groton, according to public records. Following his March 13 arrest, police listed his address as 19 Jay St., which is the city's Homeless Hospitality Shelter.
When he was sentenced to 20 months in prison and three years probation in December 2011 for a domestic assault, Judge Kevin P. McMahon issued a standing criminal protective order that prohibited Maldonado from having contact with the protected person, a female, until December 2061.
McElroy, along with other officers, are named in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against the police by Lance Goode, another city resident who is well known to law enforcement. Goode claims that during an April 29, 2010, arrest, the officers shocked him numerous times with a stun gun and smashed him into a wall and onto the ground. Goode claims he suffered a fractured elbow.