New London police officer Deana Nott charged with assault
New London — City police officer Deana Nott was arrested Monday and charged with hitting a man in the face while he sat handcuffed in the back of a cruiser in June 2016.
Nott, 50, of Waterford, was arrested by inspectors from the Statewide Prosecution Bureau of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney and charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. She turned herself in to the Rocky Hill Police Department, which is where the Chief State's Attorney's Office is located, and was released on a written promise to appear in New London Superior Court on Feb. 1.
The state alleges Nott struck a prisoner, 37-year-old Adonis Smith, in the face with her closed fist as he sat handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser on June 22, 2016.
Smith, who had been arrested following a domestic disturbance, sustained a minor laceration to his lower lip but declined an offer for medical treatment and chose not to file a complaint with the police department, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
An officer for more than 17 years, Nott has continued to work while the incident, which was captured on video via the cruiser's rear seat cameras, was investigated internally and by the Chief State's Attorney's office. The internal investigation determined she had used excessive force and she was suspended for seven days.
She remains on active duty with the police department, and was first on the scene of a fatal stabbing in December in which the victim, Jerome Hudson, told her the identity of his assailant in a dying declaration, according to court documents.
The police department has closed its case on the incident, according to Police Chief Peter Reichard.
"The City has a policy of not commenting on criminal matters involving its employees," Reichard said in an email. "The underlying incident was investigated pursuant to the Police Department General Duty Manual, a pre-disciplinary hearing was held with all parties represented and discipline was issued and served in this incident. The City is prepared to fully cooperate with the State's Attorney's Office."
Nott's attorney, Elliot Spector, could not immediately be reached to comment.
Third-degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
In preparing the arrest warrant affidavit, Inspector Matthew Schroeder of the Statewide Prosecution Bureau, reviewed camera footage of the incident and interviewed Smith and two officers who went to the June 22, 2016, domestic disturbance at 17 Grand St.
Smith's mother, Sheila Galvin, had called police to report an ongoing disturbance between Smith and Galvin's boyfriend, Nathaniel Johnson. The two were fighting over money.
Nott placed Smith under arrest. Officer Christopher Bunkley arrived as Nott and Officer Patrica Kehler were struggling to get Smith's hands behind his back to handcuff him as the three of them came down the front steps of the house. Bunkley drew his Taser and pointed at Smith's chest, warning him he would be Tased if he didn't stop struggling. Nott and Kehler got Smith handcuffed and Bunkley holstered his Taser and helped Nott escort Smith to his cruiser.
Bunkley said he and Nott escorted Smith to Bunkley's cruiser, with Smith continuing to be verbally abusive. Bunkley pushed Smith into the rear passenger seat of the cruiser, and Nott went around to the driver's side, opened the driver's side rear door and pulled Smith into the car. Bunkley said he walked around to the driver's side and stood behind Nott. He said he was unaware that Nott had struck Smith. He said Nott said Smith had tried to spit on her.
Back at the police headquarters, shift commander Lt. Jeffrey Kalolo noticed Smith was bleeding from the lip. Bunkley said Kalolo asked Smith what happened, and Smith responded, "One of your officers punched me." Bunkley said the lieutenant asked Smith if he needed medical attention or wanted to file a complaint, and Smith said, "No."
Bunkley said he went to the cruiser and reviewed the rear camera video and saw Nott striking Smith. He told the lieutenant and sergeant on duty and informed Nott that she needed to view the video because she was going to have to write it up in a report. Kehler was also interviewed but couldn't recall details about the arrest and had no knowledge of what happened in the back seat of the cruiser.
Smith was eventually convicted of interfering with police, second-degree breach of peace and third-degree assault and sentenced to six months in connection to the incident.
Interviewed in April 2017 at the Luzerne County Prison in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he was incarcerated on unrelated charges, Smith said he had been offered medical attention, which he declined. He said he wasn't asked if he wanted to make a complaint.
Smith said during the interview that he threatened to sue Nott after she told him to "go ahead and spit on me," but that statement was not found on the cruiser video, according ot the affidavit.