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    Police-Fire Reports
    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    One officer on leave, another suspended in New London

    New London ― Capt. Todd Bergeson and Lt. Joshua Bergeson, brothers who are veteran police officers in the city, were named in recent but unrelated internal investigations, including one that ended with an eight-day suspension for the latter.

    Todd Bergeson was placed on paid administrative leave this week because of allegations related to his “use of leave time and testimony regarding such use.”

    He was notified in a March 27 letter by Police Chief Brian Wright that he had been named in an internal affairs investigation and that the city intended to hire outside legal counsel to investigate. The Day obtained the letter to Bergeson on Wednesday through a Freedom of Information request. Todd Bergeson, who has been with the department since 1994, is to remain on leave until a hearing can be held on the issue. A timeline for the investigation was not immediately available.

    Joshua Bergeson, who also serves as the local police union president, was notified in a March 6 letter by Wright that an investigation had determined he was in violation of department policy related to “respect and courtesy,” “conduct unbecoming an officer” and “use of force reporting.” He was suspended for three days without pay in one complaint and five days for a separate complaint. He was also ordered to attend “designated retraining.“

    The city has not yet released details of the complaints or the internal investigation but the documents obtained by The Day show Joshua Bergeson and four other officers were named in a citizen’s complaint filed by Daniel Kokoszka. The complaint was related to Kokoszka’s interactions with police on Aug. 20, 2022.

    A letter to Joshua Bergeson dated Aug. 12, 2022 confirms an internal investigation was related to “employee conduct with the public and a posted YouTube video.”

    Kokoszka posted a portion of the video he recorded that day on the YouTube channel called Constitution State, a channel that purports to “focus on our public servants and how they treat the public.” In the video, Kokoszka can be seen walking through the police department’s parking lot and recording video of vehicles there. That’s where he encounters Joshua Bergeson, who orders him off the property. Kokoszka refuses and asserts it is public property and he has done nothing wrong. The two argue.

    At one point in the video, Bergeson tells Kokoszka to leave the property or “you’re going to end up downstairs in our lockup.” Bergeson also appears to bump Kokoszka as he blocks Kokoszka’s path. Kokoszka can be heard repeatedly calling Bergeson a “clown” and “loser,” with expletives in the mix.

    Kokoszka said he got the idea of recording police after watching video after video of citizens rights being violated.

    “A lot of this is just making people understand the laws,” Kokoszka said in a recent interview. “I have a good relationship with most. But I don’t like bad police officers and I don’t like police who don’t follow the law.”

    Kokoszka has several pending criminal cases related to similar interactions with police at different police departments across the state where he claims he was breaking no laws.

    “I’m just a citizen so they feel like they have more power. I give what I get. I stand up for myself,” he said.

    Kokoszka, who filed a complaint against New London police alleging assault and a violation of his rights, was notified in December that his complaint against Bergeson had been sustained. The complaint was also investigation by state police who submitted a report to the New London County State’s Attorney’s Office. New London County State’s Attorney Paul Narducci determined there was no violation of any criminal laws.

    Joshua Bergeson, who has filed a grievance over his suspension, declined comment and referred questions to his lawyer, Elliot Spector. Spector could not be reached for comment.

    Joshua Bergeson is not a stranger to controversy. He was fired from the department in 2012 for what city officials initially said was his involvement in injuries sustained by a man beaten and pepper sprayed during an arrest outside a Coit Street drug and alcohol detoxification center. An internal investigation, however, determined Bergeson had not violated the department’s use of force policy and the city later clarified that Bergeson’s firing was related to his absenteeism. The union fought the firing and Bergeson was rehired in April 2013.

    Reached by phone on Wednesday, Todd Bergeson declined comment citing the ongoing investigation.

    g.smith@theday.com

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