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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Norwich police release video footage of June 29 Jenkins Park incident

    Norwich ― Police Chief Patrick Daley on Monday released “limited and focused” dashboard and body camera footage from a Jenkins Park fight and said officers’ response to the incident will be investigated by the New London County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine if officers’ use of force was appropriate.

    Daley during a news conference at City Hall said he asked New London State’s Attorney Paul Narducci to conduct the investigation in the name of transparency and accountability. Narducci later confirmed his office is investigating police response to the incident.

    Daley said the rest of the dashboard and body camera footage of the June 29 incident, which comes from numerous officers and contains images of many people, will be available once it is redacted. Footage released Monday includes some blurred images of juveniles who were at the park.

    In the meantime, Daley said, the department is sharing the select footage to address concerns about the level of force used to subdue a large crowd that the two officers who responded initially did not expect when they arrived for the report of a disturbance at the park.

    “Police use of force is always controversial and it always looks bad,” Daley said. “But sometimes it’s necessary.”

    He asked for the public’s patience as more footage is prepared for release and the state’s attorney’s office investigates the department response.

    But the mother of 23-year-old Jaylen Jarmon, the sole man involved in the altercation facing charges so far, after the news conference said the selective footage didn’t convey the whole situation.

    “There’s parts missing,” Tanikka Davis said. “Clearly it’s not all there.”

    Norwich NAACP in a Monday statement said the agency’s Police Accountability Task Force will also be reviewing all available video footage and other information on the incident.

    Daley said more arrests are anticipated.

    The park was being used for a basketball tournament in memory of Camaury Clack, who was fatally shot a year ago in May outside his Sandy Lane home. City officials have said there were no permits issued to authorize the basketball tournament, and police were unaware of the event prior to being called to the scene for the disturbance.

    Officer Scott Dupointe, one of the first two officers to the scene, could be heard on the body camera footage calling for reinforcements over his radio while lamenting that there were only “two of us for 200 people.”

    “Send us everybody you’ve got,” he said. “We’ll take mutual aid too.”

    What officers found when they got there ultimately led to the arrest of Jarmon, 23, on charges of second-degree assault, breach of peace, assault on a police officer and interfering with a police officer. The officer, Gary Gross, was taken to Backus Hospital and treated for neck injuries, from which Daley said he is still recovering at home.

    In footage from on-duty road supervisor Sgt. Avery Marsh, Jarmon could be seen holding Officer Gross in a headlock.

    Daley said officers used a Taser in “drive stun” mode, pressing the device against Jarmon’s upper shoulder to deliver the shock. That’s when Jarmon released his chokehold on Gross.

    Footage from Gross’ camera then shows Officer Matthew Goddu punching Jarmon multiple times in the back while attempting to put the accused man into handcuffs.

    Goddu’s own body camera footage was unusable after about 45 seconds, because it fell off during all the activity and was recording the ground, according to police.

    Dash camera footage shows the incident was precipitated when Jarmon threw a plastic water bottle at an unknown suspect, which resulted in a fight.

    Davis, Jarmon’s mother, said after the news conference that her son didn’t know it was a police officer who used pepper spray on him.

    “He was maced. He was running, he was in the blind,” she said of her son.

    Sgt. Christopher Chastang confirmed that body camera footage “appears” to indicate Goddu used pepper spray on Jarmon after the fight broke out.

    Daley during the news conference said officers were not indiscriminately spraying the crowd, but rather targeted those who were “injecting themselves” into the situation.

    He acknowledged most officers who responded absorbed the chemical to some extent, with three of them experiencing the acute effects of pepper spray.

    One officer, Victoria Clarke, was transported to the hospital after she was overcome by pepper spray while trying to control the crowd. Her body camera footage was included in the segments released Monday by police.

    “Get back!” she could be heard calling out to those in the area of Jarmon’s arrest, the chemical canister visible in her hand. Then: “Aw, (expletive). I can’t see!”

    Another officer in one video could be heard calling out he had “one good eye.”

    Daley said the effects of the pepper spray exacerbated what was already a tense situation with a propensity for continuing violence.

    “That is very unnerving to the officers as well,” he said. “You can’t see and you have no idea what’s going on; you can just hear the crowd.”

    Norwich NAACP President Anthony Holland issued a statement Monday evening saying the agency’s Police Accountability Task Force will review all available video footage and other information pertaining to the Jenkins Park incident, which will take some time. Holland said the agency is aware of videos posted to social media on the incident and said all video footage by Norwich police and other responding departments have not yet been available to the NAACP.

    He said the task force is not delaying its response but wants to ensure the information shared with the public “is not only trustworthy but is the truth and these truths are based on facts.”

    e.regan@theday.com

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