Saturday, August 01, 2020
Saturday, July 04, 2020
43 summers ago – July 5, 1977 – grand jury began hearing testimony, piercing, slightly, the ongoing Showalter hit-run cover-up in New London, CT
Editor’s Note: The Showalter grand jury is noteworthy in that forces for justice – Judge Joseph Dannehy, Special Prosecutor Austin McGuigan and as many as 17 Connecticut State Police detectives – could only knock down some of the walls protecting New London Police, State’s Attorney C. Robert Satti, Asst. State’s Attorney Harold Dean, Judge Angelo Santaniello, former Mayor Harvey Mallove and others who escaped complete discovery. The cover-up continues to this day, highlighted by the suppression and disappearance of the grand jury transcripts.
The foundation for investigative reporting in this case was developed by John Peterson, who was managing editor of The Norwich Bulletin during the grand jury. The grand jury began hearing testimony on July 5, 1977.
Special Prosecutor McGuigan became Chief State’s Attorney, then was fired after convicting appointees of the governor and many other public officials.
Chronology, Grand Juror Report, Follow-up Columns
Law And Justice In Everyday Life, CT Law Tribune
F. Lee Bailey on Law and Justice in Everyday Life and the Showalter case:
THE SHOWALTER CHRONOLOGY – A FOUR YEAR SEARCH FOR JUSTICE
New London, Ct.
Approximately 11:10 to 11:20 p.m. Kevin B. Showalter is killed. Car leaves scene. Only taillights observed by a neighbor.
There is much confusion. Mr. Showalter had been changing a tire on his companion’s car. His companion Debra Emilyta, was sitting about six feet away from the car on a stone wall.
Ms. Emilyta told police she heard a thud, but did not see the car which struck Mr. Showalter. She said she ran across the road, a well-lit section of Pequot Avenue near Plant Street, before seeing Mr. Showalter’s body.
Mr. Showalter’s body was thrown 22 feet from the believed point of impact, onto a sidewalk near a large tree. The police report prepared that night noted the deceased’s shoes were found 110 feet apart. Part of a leg bone was found 75 feet away.
Michael Buscetto of Mike’s Auto Body gives police body putty, apparently from the car which struck Mr. Showalter. The putty never made it to the police station. Det. Lt. Konstanty T. Bucko later denies its existence.
Autopsy performed. No trace of alcohol or drugs found. Cause of death listed as lacerated liver and broken neck.
In efforts to console Mrs. Showalter, friends, neighbors, witnesses and officials volunteer information about the accident. She quietly listens for about six weeks, taking it for granted that police are acting on the same information. December 26
New London police begin full-scale search for red car.
FBI report describes paint particles on Mr. Showalter’s clothing as “racing green” or “forest green” used on 1968 Chrysler products.
Mrs. Showalter notes she had the impression local police were not actively pursuing the case. She began interviewing those persons who came to her voluntarily and made a written record of her findings.
During the next three weeks, Mrs. Showalter spends much of her time making telephone calls and knocking on doors. She and her youngest son Craig, then 14, visited a number of local auto dealers and garages. She said in most cases they were told police had not made any inquiries of them.
New London police conduct first interview with Harvey N. Mallove, the downtown merchant and former mayor and city councilor. Mallove stated he drove by Pequot Avenue near Plant Street shortly before 11:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1973. Seven people near the accident scene contradict what he said he saw.
Mrs. Showalter writes to State’s Atty. Edmund J. O’Brien, requesting a one-man grand jury investigation into her son’s death. O’Brien never responds.
On the same day, Atty. Thomas Bishop, representing Mrs. Showalter as the administratix of Mr. Showalter’s estate, asks Atty. Joseph Moukawsher to conduct a coroner’s inquest of the hit-run death.
Moukawsher agrees to conduct inquest but must confer with New London police before setting date.
Mrs. Showalter writes to New London Police Chief John J. Crowley, asking for a progress report on the investigation by his force. Crowley neither acknowledges receipt of letter nor responds. Copies of letter were sent to City Manager C. Francis Driscoll, and Abraham Kirshenbaum, then chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
Mrs. Showalter asks Superior Court Judge Angelo Santaniello to call for a grand jury investigation.
Santaniello notes Moukawsher has agreed to conduct coroner’s inquest. He tells Mrs. Showalter, “If it appears that during any stage of this proceeding that any further intercession is necessary, appropriate action will be taken at that time.”
Mrs. Showalter writes to City Manager C. Francis Driscoll, asking for a report from his office assessing the police department’s handling of the case. She also asks for a reply to her June 4 letter to Police Chief Crowley.
Driscoll tells Crowley to prepare a complete report for Mrs. Showalter.
Bucko completes report on fatal accident.
Driscoll sends Mrs. Showalter Bucko’s report. The report said Mr. Showalter’s body was in the road, but the ambulance crew which took Mr. Showalter to Lawrence Memorial Hospital said they found him on the sidewalk several feet away. No police officer ever saw the body at the scene since the first officer arrived as the body was being placed in the ambulance.
Bucko says paint particles from a 1968 Plymouth at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton are similar to those found on Mr. Showalter’s clothing, but the same paint is used on any 1968 Chrysler product.
Bucko also says a piece of metal Mrs. Showalter found near the accident scene is in the detective bureau. When Mrs. Showalter first offered the metal to police, they refused to sign a receipt for it.
Mrs. Showalter writes to Driscoll regarding Bucko’s report. She lists six pages of comments on allegedly “serious omissions” and “strictly opinion judgments” by Bucko.
Mrs. Showalter also writes to Chief State’s Atty. Joseph Gormley, asking him to send a representative to the coroner’s inquest. She includes copies of correspondence with local officials and Bucko’s report.
Mrs. Showalter requests a meeting with the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
Bucko updates report, at request of city manager Driscoll.
Bucko said of the body location, “the position he (Mr. Showalter) was found in at the scene of the accident, in my opinion, would not help in solving this matter.” Erroneous on the report is the position of the car jack which is shown on the front bumper. The car Mr. Showalter was working on, a Ford Pinto, had to be jacked from the side of the vehicle.
Omitted from the report is the location of a car mat seen to the rear of the car and the spare tire Mr. Showalter never got to put on the car.
Gormley writes to Mrs. Showalter, telling her the local police investigation “has proceeded smoothly,” and there is “no reason for this office to initiate its own investigation.”
The Public Safety Committee of the New London City Council meets in closed session for one hour to discuss the hit-run death. Chief Crowley requested the closed session. He said there is evidence that could jeopardize future action.
Mrs. Showalter submitted a 12-page statement for the meeting, but did not attend.
Crowley said the case is not closed and it appears an arrest may be made.
Mallove submits official statement to New London police.
After being postponed several times, the coroner’s inquest hears testimony from 50 persons. No findings issued.
A state police detective participating in the federal grand jury probe of the city police department has told one of its patrolmen they identified the driver of the car which struck and killed Mr. Showalter on Christmas Eve, 1973.
“We know who killed the Showalter kid, how come you don’t?” the detective was quoted in The Norwich Bulletin as saying.
The Bulletin, in a four-part series, shows:
- Eyewitnesses and what New London police called “near witnesses” drastically differed in their accounts of the accident.
- Microscopic paint particles found on Mr. Showalter’s clothing on which police based their search may not have been left by the vehicle which struck him.
- Evidence entrusted to police officers at the scene has never been seen since.
- A claim by police that it would cost as much as $1,200 to trace vehicles possible involved in the mishap was declared false by the state Motor Vehicle Department.
The Bulletin, when preparing the series of articles, made repeated efforts to discuss the case with police officials but Lt. K.T. Bucko, who headed the case, on the advice of then Police Chief John Crowley, would not.
April 3 State police conduct an extensive door-to-door inquiry in the Pequot Avenue region. State police have been looking into the case as part of a federal grand jury investigation into alleged corruption within the city force.
The state of Connecticut offers a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the hit-run death of Mr. Showalter. A total of $3,000 is now being offered. Classmates and friends of Mr. Showalter’s have already collected $1,000.
A community effort by friends and classmates raises the reward to $5,000.
The transcript of the coroner’s inquest of the hit-run death conducted nearly a year ago has yet to be typed, Coroner Joseph Moukawsher confirms. He said he wants to review the transcript even though he believes his six-day long inquest did not establish any guilt in the case. He said he has not spoken with the court reporter assigned to the case since the early summer.
Mrs. Showalter writes to State’s Atty. C. Robert Satti, requesting a one-man grand jury investigation. No response.
Satti refuses to confirm or deny the existence of Mrs. Showalter’s request. Mrs. Showalter has also asked Satti’s office to ascertain the location of recorded tapes made during the coroner’s inquest.
Mrs. Showalter sends a special delivery letter to Satti asking for a response to the December 10 request. No response.
In a feature article, also carried statewide by the Associated Press, The Bulletin profiles Mrs. Showalter on page one.
Some public officials regard her as a persistent nuisance, someone to be ignored and sidestepped, but Mrs. Lucille M. Showalter will not breathe easily until they tell her who killed her son, Bulletin reporter Fred Vollono wrote.
“The official comment seems to be there is nothing to it,” Mrs. Showalter said. “It is just the ramblings of a grief-stricken mother. But there are many people who urge me to go on. They say, ‘Lucille, if you stop, then nothing will ever be done.’”
Mrs. Showalter receives a letter of confession from an inmate at Somers state prison. The inmate said he was plagued by news accounts of the death. Every time he seems to forget the accident, the inmate said, he reads another news story.
Mrs. Showalter submits a third written request to Satti for a grand-jury probe. No response.
Common Pleas court Prosecutor Harold Dean quashes the only lead in the two and a half year old investigation, The Norwich Bulletin reports. The lead was the letter of confession written by the inmate at Somers Prison. State police arrested the inmate for harassment of the victim’s mother, Mrs. Showalter, to whom the letter was sent. Dean nolled the case and allowed it to be dismissed despite a prior meeting with state police when the significance of the arrest was discussed.
State police did not believe the letter writer was responsible for the hit-run death, but they thought the letter contained possibly significant information. Dean said he was certain the accused had no knowledge of the case, because he was incarcerated when Mr. Showalter was killed.
August 7 The day following the Bulletin’s report of Dean quashing the lead, Chief State’s Atty. Joseph Gormley says he had “no idea” why the lead “which very well could have led to something,” resulted in a dead end. Two state police officers had met with Gormley to discuss the letter of confession.
State police list the investigation into the killing of Mr. Showalter as “closed pending further development.” That classification came 31 days after Dean threw the harassment case out of court.
Mrs. Showalter again asks Superior Court Judge Angelo Santaniello to call for a one-man grand jury probe.
Mrs. Showalter publicly renews her efforts to have a one-man grand jury reopen the investigation into the hit-run killing of her son. In a statement sent to 22 media outlets, Mrs. Showalter says she made the appeal in an August 30 letter to Superior Court Judge Angelo Santaniello. She says she was asking the judge to “make good on a promise” he made to her in June 1974. Santaniello wrote in a June 24, 1974 letter, Superior Court intercession would be possible if the investigation required it.
Santaniello said, “probably the proper person” to approach would be State’s Atty. C. Robert Satti. But Mrs. Showalter said she is ignoring Satti because he failed to respond to her December 1975 letter asking for the grand jury.
State’s Atty. C. Robert Satti says he needs another three weeks to review information on the killing of Mr. Showalter before deciding whether the investigation should be reopened or shelved.
Satti says he had hoped to have the matter resolved by today, but the sinking of his 35-foot cabin cruiser two weeks ago, an unexpected report of crimes by New London police, and a new trial forced him behind schedule.
Mrs. Showalter turns to Governor Ella T. Grasso for help.
“I cannot endure this loss of a beloved son in the midst of a governmental system that appears to neither act nor care,” Mrs. Showalter says in a letter to the governor.
Mrs. Showalter says she is skeptical the New London County State’s Attorney’s review of the case will result in the one-man grand jury she has requested. Satti today said he is still reviewing transcripts of the Coroner’s Inquest and refused further comment.
Just three days before the third anniversary of the killing of Kevin B. Showalter, the state’s chief court administrator orders the city’s only unsolved hit-and-run case reopened.
John P. Cotter signs an order creating a one-man jury to probe the death, renewing hopes that allegations of police bungling and mishandling of the case will be settled.
“I can’t yet believe it,” says Mrs. Showalter, calling the action a “literal miracle.”
Cotter, a justice on the state Supreme Court, selects retired Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Devlin to head the one-man grand jury.
An attorney representing Mrs. Lucille M. Showalter also files a $600,000 lawsuit against the unnamed person(s) responsible for the killing of her son. Atty. Averum J. Sprecher of East Haddam says the suit is aimed at protecting Mrs. Showalter’s rights.
“The action as I have filed it will definitively preserve her rights when the investigative bodies finally determine who killed the boy,” he said. The suit is aimed at heading off fears the state’s statute of limitations might preclude Mrs. Showalter from pursuing civil action if the killer is found.
Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Dannehy is ordered to replace State Referee Raymond J. Devlin as the one-man grand juror investigating Mr. Showalter’s death. Chief Court Administrator John P. Cotter says Judge Devlin had asked to be taken off the case because he was too busy with other duties, and would be unable to commute from his New Haven office.
Austin J. McGuigan, the special prosecutor assigned to the one-man grand jury probing the hit-run death of Mr. Showalter promises to pull “all the stops” in his investigation but says he needs help from the public to succeed.
McGuigan has worked for the state for two years as the top investigator of organized crime. He appeals to anyone with information to call him confidentially.
State Police Commissioner Edward P. Leonard, as part of a last-resort effort, makes a personal appeal to area residents for information about the killing of Mr. Showalter. In a letter to the people who live near the Pequot Avenue site where Mr. Showalter died, Leonard asks for facts – “No matter how insignificant they may appear” – which might shed light on the car, the driver or the accident scene.
Special Prosecutor McGuigan says police “had no suspects.” However, he says if a suspect is found police believe there is sufficient evidence to tie the person to the case.
Investigators say they feel confident the Showalter case will be solved.
The new optimism comes after a public appeal netted more than 300 leads, new laboratory analysis of existing evidence, and an accounting of each of the more than 10,000 green Chrysler products registered in Eastern Connecticut when Mr. Showalter was killed.
The new evidence means “there is a significant possibility the vehicle in question was not a green Chrysler,” Special Prosecutor Austin McGuigan says. While the investigators will not say what other color the car might have been, the evidence apparently opens new avenues for the investigation. Previously, other theories on who drove the death car, theories which have had some substantiation, were locked into the green Chrysler theory, police acknowledge.
State police investigators spend two and a half hours recreating and filming the Pequot Avenue death scene where Mr. Showalter was the victim of the hit and run.
State police again film and re-create death scene.
The Bulletin reports that one of the most intensive investigations in state police history, the probe into Mr. Showalter’s hit-run death, will be given to a one-man grand jury July 5 in Windham county Superior Court.
Judge Joseph F. Dannehy, the grand juror, imposes a gag order on all investigators assigned to the case. Special Prosecutor McGuigan and 17 state police detectives had gathered evidence for the grand jury.
More than 50 persons will be subpoenaed and the scope of the probe will be expanded to include subsequent actions connected with the accident, The Bulletin reports.
Eleven New London police officers, including the top detective involved in the first of three investigations of the hit-run death, have been subpoenaed, The Bulletin reports.
The grand jury begins behind closed doors with testimony by New London Det. Lt. Konstanty T. Bucko.
Outside, a television camera crew drips with sweat under the glare of a hot summer sun.
Inside it is quiet and cool – almost like any other day. The state police detectives and reporters talk about golf, baseball and other summertime activities. Because of the gag order imposed by Judge Dannehy, they can’t talk about what is most on their minds, what has brought them all together – the unsolved hit-run death of Kevin B. Showalter.
The session lasts about five hours and also includes testimony by Mrs. Showalter and Debra Emilyta, Mr. Showalter’s companion the night he died.
Ms. Emilyta has been sitting on a wall about 6 feet from Mr. Showalter when he was killed. She told police she only heard the 20-year-old Mitchell College student struck, and did not see the car which struck him.
Witnesses include Michael Buscetto of Mike’s Arco in New London. What he identified as body putty, apparently from the car that struck and killed Mr. Showalter, has never been seen since police officers placed it in an envelope that night, according to sources.
Ms. Emilyta concludes testimony.
Also testifying are Dr. Robert Weller, members of his family, and a friend, who while returning home from church drove past Mr. Showalter as he was changing the tire. They were among the last persons to see Mr. Showalter alive.
Other witnesses include Mrs. Ruth P. Hendel and Mrs. Charles (Shirley Pope) Alloway, her daughter.
On Christmas Eve, 1973, Mrs. Hendel had just turned away from the window of her home on Pequot Avenue where she had been watching Mr. Showalter work on the Emilyta car. She heard the noise of the car striking Mr. Showalter and turning back quickly she caught a glimpse of the taillights. Her first impression of the fleeing southbound car was that it was bright-colored, possibly red.
Mrs. Hendel continued to watch the accident scene as she telephoned Mrs. Alloway, the wife of a New London police officer.
Arthur Adams of New London, a Mitchell College security guard and former state policeman, also testifies. Aside from Ms. Emilyta and the hit-run driver, Adams may have been one of the last persons to see Mr. Showalter alive.
Adams saw Mr. Showalter working on the car and Ms. Emilyta sitting on the stone wall, swinging her legs. He observed the girl with a coat collar wrapped around her head, in conversation with Mr. Showalter, after the Weller party had driven by.
Adams continued on his rounds towards the Montauk Avenue side of the campus. Sometime after 11 p.m., he saw an ambulance heading for the hospital and two police cars heading down Plant Street.
Some of the last persons who saw Mr. Showalter alive and one of the first who saw him dead testify.
Six members of the Sitty family, who were celebrating Christmas Eve and occasionally watching Mr. Showalter change a tire from inside a house on Pequot Avenue, tell the grand jury what they knew about the case, Edmond Sitty had brought out a blanket and a corduroy coat to put over Mr. Showalter’s body after he had been struck and killed.
A New London High School classmate of Mr. Showalter, Arthur Petrini, was a passenger in a car that passed the accident scene sometime after Mr. Showalter was killed and before the ambulance and police arrived. He also testified.
Witnesses included two firemen and a dispatcher, two nurses and an orderly, the New London County Medical Examiner, the first man to officially identify Mr. Showalter, and a woman who lives near the accident scene.
Larry Grimes, a security guard who knew Mr. Showalter from Mitchell College, had made the preliminary identification at Lawrence and Memorial Hospitals, where he also worked. Mrs. Dorothy Bryson of Pequot Avenue, who came upon the accident scene, also testifies.
New London police officers pack the waiting room of the Windham County Courthouse. Of the 11 who were subpoenaed last month, at least seven are present.
The 11 include Patrolmen Vincent McGrath, Steven Colonis, Thomas P. Bowes Jr., and Cpl. Joseph Chiapponne, all of whom were involved in the initial investigation. With the change of shift, Sgt. Joseph Jullarine, Patrolmen Richard West and Glenn Davis and Det. Sgt. Konstanty T. Bucko joined the probe. Bucko was off duty at the time.
McGrath filed the motor vehicle report of the accident and the sketch on the report was by Bowes. Bucko took photographs of the scene and gathered evidence. His photographs may be the only ones taken. Bucko also went to the hospital and got the victim’s clothing, according to sources.
Colonis, the first officer on the scene, apparently arrived as Mr. Showalter was being placed in the ambulance. He interviewed Ms. Emilyta and took her to the station to file a 13-sentence statement.
There is some confusion of whether Colonis drove an unmarked police car that night. Sources say police made conflicting statements on that question.
Thomas Wainwright, who played tennis with Kevin Showalter at New London High, saw his lifeless body on a sidewalk on Pequot Avenue before an ambulance or police arrived, and is among those testifying today. Arthur Petrini, who testified last week, was a passenger in Wainwright’s car.
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Wainwright, who were stopped by police after circling the scene in another auto, also testify.
At least seven New London police officers are at the courthouse, but it is not known how many are testifying.
The grand jury shifts beyond reconstructions by “near witnesses,” as Sgt. Joseph Jullarine, now retired, testifies. He was the squad leader who reportedly conducted “an intensive investigation” for a red car during the 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. shift on Christmas Day 1973.
The grand jury investigators spend much of the day alone reviewing physical evidence and testimony. Only three witnesses – New London police who have already appeared during the proceedings – are present.
Det. Bucko appears for at least the fourth time in the nine days the grand jury has convened. The session begins at 10 a.m. and ends about 5:45 p.m., with his departure.
A nurse’s aide who knelt by Mr. Showalter’s body, feeling for a pulse, also testifies, Sue Costello, who heard the report of an accident as she was leaving Lawrence and Memorial Hospitals in New London from her shift, had arrived on the scene before ambulance personnel and police.
The scope of the grand jury probe goes beyond Mr. Showlater’s death and runs smack into a crucial area of dispute with the appearance of New London police detective Walter Petchark.
On Christmas Day 1973, with evidence already missing and news of Mr. Showalter’s death on the radio, Petchark reportedly received a call from former mayor Harvey N. Mallove. Mallove later told The Bulletin there was no truth to the report. But he allegedly told Petchark he thought he saw the accident the night before.
Three city police detectives – Bucko, Petchark, and Carmello Fazzina – were present at the inquiry. They were followed by laboratory technicians from the FBI, who lent their expertise in the analysis of headlight glass possibly belonging to the death vehicle.
The former counsel for the estate of Mr. Showalter testifies. Atty. Thomas Bishop confirms his representation of the estate was severed in June 1974.
Thomas and Donald Wainwright return for further testimony.
Witnesses include Mrs. S.F. Zimet of Ledyard. Mallove said he was visiting at her home on Christmas Eve 1973, left about 10:45 p.m., and was home in New London about half an hour later.
Mrs. Zimet is accompanied by her attorney, L. Patrick Gray. Gray, like Bishop, is a member of the New London law firm Suissman, Shapiro, Wool, and Brennan.
Other witnesses include New London city Manager C. Francis Driscoll and Elise Mallove, Mallove’s daughter. Miss Mallove was home for her Christmas vacation in 1973.
The grand jury begins a four-week recess. More than 50 persons were called during the first 12 days of the inquiry.
New London police investigators and a newspaper editor who has followed their unsolved hit-run death case for three years are among the witnesses.
Retired Police Chief John Crowley and Det. Lt. K.T. Bucko, who refused repeated pleas by The Bulletin in March of 1975 to discuss the death of Kevin B. Showalter, gives testimony – as did the paper’s managing editor, John C. Peterson.
Peterson testifies for three hours.
The attorney who conducted a coroner’s inquest into Mr. Showalter’s death, the results of which have never met public scrutiny, is the first witness today. Atty. Joseph Moukwasher, who heard testimony from 50 witnesses during six days in September and November of 1974, is one of the few persons familiar with the substance of that investigation.
It took more than two years for the transcripts of the hearings to be typed and submitted to State’s Atty. C. Robert Satti.
State Police Sgt. Donald Crouch, who in 1974 and 1975 worked for the federal grand jury investigating alleged corruption in the New London force, also testifies. Other witnesses included Rosemary Benson and Carol James.
Physical exhibits appear to outnumber witnesses in the 15th day of proceedings. Two state police technicians from the crime lab in Bethany carry satchels concealing evidence into the closed courtroom. One exhibit is a light colored automobile fender, which was dented and streaked.
Det. Edward Pickett of the New London County State’s Attorney’s office, who helped administer a lie detector test to Ms. Emilyta, testifies. Ms. Emilyta passed the test.
Another detective, private investigator Joe Harris, is also called. A former Waterford police sergeant, he worked on the case for a brief time, on his own.
Other witnesses in a short session include State Police Sgt. Charles Trotter, a principal investigator in the federal grand jury probe of the New London city police.
Two persons who saw Mr. Showalter on Christmas Eve 1973, hours before he was killed testify.
Ramona Ricci, a coworker of Mr. Showalter’s at a Waterford discotheque, attended one of two parties Mr. Showalter had planned to go to after work that night. Nancy Wicksham, who also testified, had joined friends that holiday evening at the club.
Mallove says his status as a suspect in the case is “nothing new.” During testimony in a New Jersey courtroom, Connecticut State Police revealed Mallove is a prime suspect in the hit-run case. The testimony concerned refusal by two New Jersey men to comply with a subpoena issued by the one-man grand jury. Trooper Charles Wargat also testified he was told the two men repaired Mallove’s car on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day 1973.
Mallove tells The Bulletin he did not know the men and never had a car repaired at their shop on Reed Street in New London. He says he didn’t kill Mr. Showalter and doesn’t know anything about anybody who did.
One of the two men who testified with immunity today has said in a published account he has no knowledge of the case and denied any car was repaired in his New London shop on Christmas Eve 1973.
Walter String Jr. made those comments in the New Jersey Courier Post. He and his son, Walter String III, had been ordered to appear today by a New Jersey judge, after refusing to comply with a subpoena.
Among the dozen or so witnesses are New London city police Sgt. Donald Sloan and Cpl. Charles Alloway. They took the first full statement from Ms. Emilyta, five days after the accident.
Darlene Barnes, a friend of Mr. Showalter who patronized the Waterford discotheque where he worked, is among the witnesses today. Ms. Barnes was also one of the 50 witnesses during the coroner’s inquest of 1974.
Larry Grimes testifies again. The Mitchell College security guard who made the first identification of Mr. Showalter at Lawrence and Memorial Hospitals, was also at the courthouse on July 12, and Sept. 26.
The grand jury will be in recess until October 17. It has convened 20 times since July 5 and heard about 90 witnesses.
Judge Dannehy says published reports that Mallove is a prime suspect in the case “couldn’t bother me in the least.”
“They (the newspapers) are free to speculate if they wish,” Dannehy says. “I am not concerned with their claimed right to freedom of expression.
I think that sometimes their attitude is to publish and be damned, but they don’t bother me.”
“Why don’t you wait” for the grand jury report? Dannehy asked.
The sales manager of a New London auto firm who said he has sold a number of cars to the family of a suspect in the hit-run case testifies.
In 1970, Peter Emmanuel Sr. of New London Motors sold a Lincoln Continental to Harvey N. Mallove, whom state police have identified as a suspect in the Christmas Eve, 1973 death. A compact car was among the other autos the New London firm sold to Mallove.
State police were looking for a green Chrysler product when they first questioned New London motors personnel, Emmanuel said before he testified. But the firm didn’t sell Mallove such a vehicle, which police had believed was the death car, he added.
The grand jury does not convene today because the investigators were not ready to proceed, Judge Dannehy said. He said he plans to conduct several more sessions before adjourning to write the final report, but did not specify.
The grand jury meets for its first regular session since October 17 and hears one witness. The witness, Gary Jordan of New London, said he was dating Elise Mallove on Christmas Eve 1973.
Sources say the grand jury conducted at least one special session since October 17, but it was not known who testified.
State police continue working long and irregular hours probing Mr. Showalter’s death as they re-create the hit-run scene on Pequot Avenue near Plant Street for at least the third time.
The man whom state police have said they consider a prime suspect in New London’s only unsolved hit-run death has his day in court.
Harvey N. Mallove testifies for about four hours before the secret grand jury probing Mr. Showalter’s death. Atty. Leo J. McNamara accompanies Mallove to the Windham County Courthouse.
Mallove says he was one of a number of persons who drove by the accident scene shortly before or after Mr. Showalter was killed. But a four-part series by The Bulletin in March of 1975 showed Mallove saw a scene that seven other persons said could not have taken place.
Mallove passed the accident scene within a minute or two after an ambulance call was logged. His statement to New London police – dated eight months later – conflicts with accounts of seven persons at the scene or looking out their windows seconds after Mr. Showalter was struck.
Mr. Showalter was struck by a car as he changed a tire on a friend’s parked Ford Pinto, on a well-lit section of Pequot Avenue near Plant Street.
In his statement, Mallove said he saw an automobile parked at an angle in front of the Pinto. None of the seven persons saw any car stopped at the scene immediately after the victim was hit according to the July 10, 1974 report by New London Det. Lt. Konstanty T. Bucko.
Mallove’s vivid description of a middle-aged man talking with a girl near the car also conflicts with statements by the seven persons.
In his statement, Mallove said he assumed the man was a member of the police department. But Bucko claims in the July 10 report that Mallove told him the talking to the girl was “NOT” a policeman.
Bucko’s report also claims Mallove learned on Christmas Day 1974 that “a man had been killed and he remarked to some people that he saw the body.” But Bucko continued to report that after Mallove viewed photographs of the scene he realized what he mistook for a body was a floor mat. In his statement, Mallove said he saw a “flat object which I assumed was a blanket or a mat.”
In his August 31, 1974 statement, Mallove said, “Seeing no trouble, accident, or any evidence of anything out of place…I continued on my way home.”
In the July 10, 1974 report, Bucko claims; “Mr. Mallove stated he was going to stop because he realized there had been an accident.”
Mallove has told The Bulletin that Bucko misquoted him.
The calling of witnesses ends with Mallove’s second appearance.
The proceedings included a film screening, apparently of the death scene as re-created by state police.
After the 35 minute screening, Special Prosecutor McGuigan and Judge Dannehy questioned Mallove for about 40 minutes. That was the bulk of the afternoon session.
The question of whether indictments should be handed down in New London’s only unsolved hit-run death now rests with Judge Dannehy.
After 24 sessions and more than 100 witnesses, Dannehy said the next step for the grand jury is the final report on who killed Kevin B. Saltwater.
Feb. 17 Report filed.
Report made public.
SHOWALTER COVERUP COLUMNS
Comments by judges, Society of Professional Journalists, Re; ‘SHOWALTER COVER-UP IS NEW LONDON’S SHAME:’
Column explores whether New London’s former mayor benefited from a widespread cover-up for the 1973 hit-and-run death of a college student. Witty, compelling – the writer has a knack for speaking in conversational tone, all the while quietly weaving in crucial facts to support his arguments that more people should be outraged by the shoddy circumstances surrounding the 1973 investigation.
Law and Justice in Everyday Life
Cover-Up In New London
Hit-And-Run Continues To Mock Justice
Sept. 4, 2000
If Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney John Bailey wants to bring closure to cold cases, here’s one from New London that should top the list: The Showalter hit-and-run cover-up is a dark chapter in Connecticut history, a tale more appropriate for a Third World country.
And yet, only one thing bothers former New London County State’s Attorney C. Robert Satti about the Showalter case: that it was investigated at all.
Satti, now retired, made the point again and again, most recently this year. Satti’s complaint, made during the wake of the late state police Detective George Ryalls, was that Ryalls’ obituary mentioned the suspect the prosecutor refused to pursue in the Showalter probe.
Kevin B. Showalter, a 20-year-old Mitchell College student, was killed at 11:12 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1973. He was changing a tire on a well-lit section of Pequot Avenue on the New London shoreline when he was struck and killed. His girlfriend, sitting only 6 feet away on a stone wall, claims she saw nothing.
Auto body putty from the death car disappeared after a tow truck driver gave it to New London police. The evidence file that was supposed to contain the putty was stuffed with bathroom tiles. The file that was supposed to contain headlight glass from the death car instead contained glass from three different headlights. State police and others suspected that, in order to throw legitimate investigators off the trail, the late young man's clothing was pounded on a different-colored car than the one that killed him.
The victim's mother, Lucille M. Showalter, tried to get a grand jury investigation of the cover-up. She was rebuffed repeatedly by the presiding judge, Angelo Santaniello who, it later became clear, was best friends with the leading suspect. Santaniello then referred Showalter to prosecutor Satti, who happened to be his former law partner. Satti refused to acknowledge registered letters from Mrs. Showalter pleading for a grand jury probe.
Satti did finally meet with Mrs. Showalter in 1978, after Judge Joseph Dannehy of Willimantic, acting as a one-man grand jury, named former New London Mayor Harvey N. Mallove as the probable driver of the hit-run vehicle. Satti called the three-hour meeting, in which he repeatedly told Mrs. Showalter that there never should have been a grand jury investigation under Dannehy.
Mallove held a good hand; he had the best legal muscle in New London County on his side. New London police would not question him for more than seven months, and then only in a perfunctory manner. They would say they inspected his cars, but they did not. Significantly, Mallove’s Lincoln had been repaired, but it wasn’t until state police took over the case four years after the accident that the fender was finally seized.
Santaniello would arrange for a coroner’s inquest and put his niece in charge of typing the transcript. Only after two years of intense public pressure would the transcript be typed. But the inquest never issued a finding.
Santaniello tipped off Mallove that he was a suspect. The judge was also aware of what local police knew about the case. Mrs. Showalter memorialized the admissions in tape-recorded telephone conversations.
“I did talk to Harvey,” Santaniello told Mrs. Showalter on Oct. 17, 1975, “and I said, `You’re suspected.’ As a matter of fact, at that time a police officer came to him on the same day or the next day, and told him you were making accusations about him and that he was a prime suspect.” The day before, Mallove told Mrs. Showalter, “Judge Santaniello is of the opinion that you fingered me.”
It was not until 1977 that state police, who took over the case at the behest of former Gov. Ella Grasso, formally named Mallove a suspect. Next week, I'll propose a means to solve the Showalter cover-up.
Showalter Cover-Up Is New London's Shame
Sept. 11, 2000
New London, where I grew up and began working in the 1960s and ‘70s, was a dirty little city with character.
It had a restaurant called the Hygienic that was everything but. There were at least a couple bars where the cops couldn't do anything, except maybe a little business.
The top pimp in town never went to jail until he was about 60 and a certain court official retired.
New London will always be the city that tried to cover up the Christmas Eve 1973 hit-and-run death of Kevin B. Showalter. It's been doing a pretty good job for nearly 27 years, but the onion is beginning to peel.
The local daily newspaper admitted -- in its official history published this year -- that it did a shoddy job on the Showalter case. Specifically, The Day admitted its failure to explore the relationship between a former mayor and a top judge, and their influence on the course of the criminal investigation. That’s a beginning.
Political and police corruption goes back a couple generations in New London. By the 1970s, New London police were widely known to be involved in the selling of women, dope and refrigerators, among other things. A federal grand jury took note. But as with the Showalter case, there were these little problems with the evidence.
A jewelry store owner and former city mayor multi-millionaire Harvey Mallove was the prime suspect in the hit-and-run death of Showalter, a student at Mitchell College. Showalter’s date that night, Christmas Eve 1973, said she saw nothing from her vantage point six feet away, sitting on a stone wall under a streetlight on a residential street as a young man changed the tire of her car.
Harvey was everybody’s pal. He would take kids to the Super Bowl, then, down the road, get them jobs as cops. He was friends with bums in the street and bums in high political office. He was wired. The standing joke among reporters became: Harvey's a great guy to have a beer with, just don't change your tire if he's driving by.
“I didn't kill the kid in any way, shape or form,” Harvey told me many times. As mayor, Harvey helped hire a few police chiefs. His best friend was the administrative judge for the county; that was the judge who controlled the early stages of the investigation, specifically a coroner’s inquest that never issued a finding.
State police followed up a report that Mallove’s best friend, County Administrative Judge Angelo G. Santaniello, was with Mallove on Christmas Eve 1973. Santaniello reportedly was No. 11 on a guest list for a party at the home of his political mentor, the late state Sen. Peter Mariani. The Mariani party was one of two Mallove attended that night.
Santaniello told reporters he never went out on Christmas Eve.
Another state judge, Joseph F. Dannehy, conducted two grand jury investigations. In 1978, Dannehy named Mallove as the probable driver of the hit-run vehicle, but said evidence that might have ensured conviction was either mishandled or destroyed.
Mallove died a few years ago with this legacy. Others still have time to come clean and tell the truth about the cover-up. Mrs. Showalter tried unsuccessfully to have Satti, Santaniello and others prosecuted for hindrance of prosecution (CGS Section 53a-166) warning of impending discovery, providing means of avoiding discovery, preventing discovery by deception. Because a conspiracy to hinder prosecution is an ongoing crime, those with information could tell Chief State's Attorney John Bailey, who has begun an initiative to solve some of the state's cold homicide cases.
Isn’t it time? No one kept the system honest when it counted, though some tried. Most stood by as the system that was supposed to protect the victim and his family betrayed them all.
Where is the conscience of the community?
Cold Case On Ice Forever
Nov. 6, 2000
One way to deflect attention from a suspect is to get investigators involved in meaningless, time-consuming tasks. Another way is to create a bogus suspect who is then exposed as such, causing a belief that the case is just too hazy to pursue.
Both of these devices were used repeatedly in the cover-up of the Showalter hit-run case in New London. Whether this was happenstance, indifference, incompetence or malfeasance, the result was the same. The system failed.
And now, it seems, the truth will remain buried forever.
Judge Joseph F. Dannehy, the grand juror who investigated the case, wrote in his finding of fact: “After December 25, 1973, the New London Police Department did virtually nothing to solve the hit-run death of Kevin B. Showalter.” The accident occurred the night before.
Local police and court officials, however, were pro-active in another sense. Their actions served to protect the assailant.
For example, New London police claimed it would cost as much as $1,200 to trace vehicles using data from the state Motor Vehicle Department. The motor vehicle department declared there was no such charge.
Nevertheless, New London police spent their time hand-sorting local motor vehicle cards. They looked for a green Chrysler. That was likely a false lead; state police said paint particles found on the victim's clothing did not come from the car that killed him.
Former Mayor Harvey Mallove began meeting informally with police and court officials as early as Dec. 25, 1973. Mallove wanted to know what the police knew.
The only lead after two and a half years was quashed by then New London Common Pleas Court Prosecutor Harold Dean in May 1976. The lead was a letter of confession written by a Somers prison inmate to the victim’s mother, Lucille Showalter.
“I told Harold how important that was to me,” Mallove, the prime suspect, confided to an associate. He also acknowledged discussing the purported confession with his best friend, the presiding judge for the county, Angelo Santaniello.
The author of the letter was known to be connected with “fences,” or purveyors of stolen goods in the New London area. State police arrested him for harassment of Mrs. Showalter. Two state troopers met with Dean for an hour. They told him the letter contained possibly significant information. State police also believed they could connect the dots in New London between the letter writer and the powers-that-be. Did he owe some favors? Was he paid? Police knew the author had no liability for the accident; he was actually in Florida at the time of the hit-run.
Dean nolled and dismissed the case without telling the troopers or Mallove. Soon thereafter, state police listed the killing of Showalter as “closed pending further development.” Upon learning of Dean's action, Chief State's Attorney Joseph Gormley remarked he had “no idea” why the lead, “which very well could have led to something,” resulted in a dead end. The case would remain closed for six months, until Gov. Ella Grasso brought the matter to Justice John Cotter.
Was there criminal activity connected with the Showalter cover-up? It appears we will never know for certain. Dannehy named Mallove as the probable driver, noting that evidence which might have ensured conviction was destroyed. The Chief State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed aspects of the case this fall after a series of columns appeared in The Law Tribune. However, the statute of limitations for the most likely potential charge, conspiracy to hinder prosecution of motor vehicle misconduct, has expired. This shameful case, it appears, is destined to stay on ice forever.
Olympic Gold for Missing Evidence
November 28, 2005
Judge Ellen Gordon was in way over her head with what she tried pass off as a ruling in Day Publishing v. State's Attorney.
Clueless Gordon was handed a hot one, a case no one has ever wanted in the so-called New London Judicial District. Every single time this case has come to court, begging for justice, The Robes, the prosecutors and their minions have either desecrated their oaths or looked the other way. Clueless Gordon, fairly new to the scene, has managed to join the list of those who are both ostriches and failures.
The Day newspaper asked Gordon this year to release the grand jury testimony regarding the cover-up of the 1973 hit-run death of Kevin Showalter. Before Gordon probably ever heard of Showalter, five New London County judges recused themselves from a John Doe civil suit against the driver because they were friends with the prime suspect, Harvey Mallove. Mallove -- the late mayor of New London and multimillionaire jeweler who picked police chiefs, planned to run for Congress and starred in the social scene -- was prone to say, "I never killed the kid -- in any way, shape or form."
It's not like we could expect a New London judge to show guts or brains in this case. Compelling testimony from the first of two grand juries implicated local law enforcement and court officials in a widespread cover-up.
On Christmas Eve 1973 at 11:12 p.m., as the call came in, a high-ranking New London officer, said, "F--k him, he's dead," and then left to go home. Showalter, a 20-year-old Mitchell College student, lay dead on a well-lit section of Pequot Avenue by the shoreline. His body was thrown 22 feet from the point of impact. His shoes were found 110 feet apart. A leg bone was 75 feet away.
A tow truck driver gave police auto body putty from the death car. The putty was never seen again. New London police mixed headlight glass from at least three different cars in what they called the evidence file. Replacing the auto body putty was bathroom tile. A local coroner's inquest never issued a finding. State police, who took over the case at the behest of Gov. Ella Grasso, were bewildered and angry when they could not find the transcript of the coroner's inquest. Mallove's best friend -- the presiding judge for the county, Angelo G. Santaniello -- had put his niece in charge of typing that transcript. Santaniello also tipped off Mallove to his status as a suspect.
Now, Clueless Gordon can't find the 3,000-page transcript of the first grand jury. Does she care? Court clerks allegedly performed a diligent search. Would any reasonable person believe or accept any of this?
Among the last persons known to possess the grand jury report was the late State's Attorney, C. Robert Satti. Satti, who refused to investigate the case before a special prosecutor was appointed, claimed he returned a copy to the grand juror, then Willimantic Superior Court Judge (later Supreme Court Justice) Joseph Dannehy. Both Dannehy and Satti are dead. Did "Do Nothing Bob" -- Mallove's moniker for Satti -- take it with him? We might as well ask Harvey, also dead, or Kevin.
Gordon's pathetic decision, dated Nov. 7, went on for about a sentence before its first fatal error. It might sound like a technical error, but it's much, much more than that. She actually said New London police investigated the case.
Before this, I thought it might take generations to remove the stench from the New London courthouse. Alas, for New London, the stench of this cover-up is forever.
Find & Open
the Showalter File
Friday, June 12, 2020
Sunday, June 07, 2020
Hartford’s sordid history of police brutality and willful failure to hold cop culprits accountable; featuring heinous case that city dragged out for 15 years before paying modest $450K settlement
A month before the Bloomfield coach was so severely beaten, the same officer, Michael Allen, actually broke his police baton over the head of another civilian
NBC30 interview, complete text below ...
-- BOB THIESFIELD PHOTO
'What capable officer, in his or her right mind, would want to work for such a city?'
-- U.S. District Magistrate Judge William Garfinkel
'It was a big hush-hush cover-up thing in the hospital.'
-- Dr. Christopher Lena, MD, Hartford Hospital orthopedic surgeon
How Hartford Shafts Brutality Victims, Cops and Citizens at Large
By ANDY THIBAULT
Special to Inquiring News
July 25, 2018 - Flashback
The former college football star will never walk like a normal person and he will never run or jump again. Since just before Christmas 14 years ago, severe pain and all its related maladies have been his ever-present companions.
Hartford Police pulverized his knee and bashed him in the head repeatedly with a baton. At age 43 now, he's still too young for a necessary knee replacement. In a series of preliminary operations to try to help him walk, a plate and screws have been inserted and removed as his cartilage disappeared, leaving what is left of his knee bone on bone. His surgeon evaluated the pain as "a 10" on "a scale of one to 10."
His crime? Traveling from Wethersfield to patronize a Hartford restaurant.
Tylon Outlaw played college football at Missouri Valley College where he was the top tackler in his conference and an honorable mention All American National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics [NAIA] cornerback. Following that, he also played several years professionally in the Arena Football League. He works as a tutor at Bloomfield High School in addition to coaching the football team to a state championship in 2015. [Team repeated as state champs in 2018]
Now, the city of Hartford is shafting both this beat down victim and the cop stuck with a $454,197 jury verdict for civil rights violations. [$450K settlement ultimately paid in 2019]
This is not an isolated case. A federal magistrate judge has called the city's practice of trying to cut loose cops found liable for civil rights violations "bewildering," questioning "what capable officer, in his or her right mind, would want to work for such a city?" The police union's Twitter account has even cited the judge's remarks.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William Garfinkel wrote the following opinion in a Nov. 13, 2017 ruling in a related case in which the city stiffed both the brutality victims and the cops. Garfinkel's entire opinion should be circulated widely. Of note, Garfinkel previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County and, as a long-time practitioner of martial arts, earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do.
“The City’s position, in addition to being unsupported by precedent, is bewildering. How can Hartford maintain a qualified police force when it is willing to expose its officers to personal liability for compensatory damages for civil rights judgments? What capable officer, in his or her right mind, would want to work for such a city? And what message does this send to the community, the residents of Hartford, when their governing officials promote a position that, in all likelihood, will leave them without full compensation for injuries in the event that they are the victims of a civil rights violation?”
The coach still has a lien on his house for hospital bills cited in his federal jury award, which was affirmed in March of this year by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Not only that, the city has filed an action to bill him about $10,000 for court costs.
His case sheds light not only on the city of Hartford's unscrupulous legal contortions, but also on its sordid history of willful failure to investigate brutality thoroughly and properly and to hold those responsible accountable. The legal term for this failure is deliberate indifference. In Hartford's practice and policy, we should call it what it is: energetic indifference to the rule of law.
Occasionally a federal judge will have the integrity and sense of duty to call out these practices, as U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton did in 2003, only a year before the unprovoked attack on the coach:
" ... Hartford had a policy or pervasive pattern of deliberate indifference to the possibility that its officers were prone to use excessive force, as demonstrated principally by Hartford's failure to reasonably investigate complaints and the absence of punitive consequences for any accused officer, that such policy or pattern may have emboldened or implanted a sense of impunity in its officers, resulting in the challenged first offense by this defendant, and that the offense would not have occurred had proper investigation and police discipline procedures been in place."
A decade earlier, I was part of a team that documented patterns of unchecked police brutality for a two-part series published by The Hartford Courant. The series, entitled
"Violent officers take toll on public trust, pocketbook" and "Flawed system shields violent officers from detection; Procedures, politics hamper Review board's effectiveness," revealed that no one responsible for keeping police brutality in check in Hartford -- not even the chief of police -- knew how many officers were accused of brutality or who they are.
It's likely they still don't know. It seems abundantly clear to any reasonable person that they don't want to know.
A month before the Bloomfield coach was so severely beaten, the same officer, Michael Allen, actually broke his police baton over the head of another civilian. In subsequent depositions, a former Los Angeles county sheriff and Patrick Hartnett, Hartford police chief from 2004-06, testified they had never heard of an officer striking anyone hard enough to break his baton. Significantly, Hartnett and the Hartford Police Department concluded the shattering blow to the head of the other civilian was "inadvertent" and "necessary / reasonable" force.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, briefed on the various judicial admonitions against the city and the ongoing indemnification brouhaha in the Outlaw civil rights award, offered the following statement late Tuesday: “Our police officers do extraordinarily important work, often in extraordinarily difficult and dangerous situations, and they deserve to know that our city stands behind them. In cases of alleged police misconduct, we defend our officers vigorously, pay for the officers’ legal defense, and if there’s a judgment against an officer, our policy is to indemnify the officer against any judgment in all but the most egregious circumstances. We have an obligation to review each case individually, and we have to consider whether it would be appropriate for taxpayers to bear the cost in a situation that truly involved egregious, willful, and wanton misconduct. As there are still post-trial motions pending in the Outlaw case, I can't comment on that case specifically.”
Put simply, there is no valid or competent oversight of the Hartford Police Department. Instead, there is negligence and malfeasance on a grand scale.
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that an annual report from the so-called Civilian Police review Board -- mandated by Hartford city ordinance since 1992 -- apparently has been issued only once, in 1994.
"The record suggests that annual reports were not prepared for the other years," the U.S. Second Circuit found.
The federal appeals court noted: According to the 1994 Report, the Review Board's early meetings were met with “mass protest by the police union”; officers “jeered and insulted both the Board and complainants” and threatened some with “bodily harm.” (1994 Report 2, 12-13.) The Board also reported difficulties in carrying out its duties, since “[r]epeated requests to the Chief of Police regarding ordinance mandated data ha[d] been met with marked, delayed responses ... or no response at all”; and the data that were received were “woefully incomplete.” (Id. at 4.) The 1994 Report stated that the IAD seemed unable “to complete investigations in a timely manner,” as a result of which a “public perception that officers w[ould] not be appropriately disciplined [wa]s reinforced.” (Id. at 7-8.) And the IAD investigation files often gave the impression “that the complainant rather than the officer ... [wa]s being investigated by IAD.” (Id. at 7.) In its first 17 months, the Board reviewed 26 cases, 18 of which involved complaints of excessive force. Of the 18 excessive-force complaints, the Board sustained 14; IAD had sustained only two.
The Hartford Courant series also showed that brutality happens in the afternoon in the shadows of the governor's office or in the middle of the night in a housing project. It happens when an officer has a victim alone, and it happens in front of crowds of witnesses. The victims are men and women, black and white, poor and prosperous, criminals and law-abiding citizens. People have been beaten for making smart remarks, for asking why they are being arrested, for asking an officer why he is beating someone else -- for doing anything that seems to question an officer's authority.
"I think we have a problem," said the chief at that time, Ronald Loranger, a 27-year veteran of the force. "I think we've had a problem for a long time. I think there are bad apples on this job that when given the chance will use excessive force. ... I think you're talking less than 5 percent of the force."
More than 40 current and retired officers interviewed agreed that the department has a brutality problem. Some force is necessary to maintain control of potentially dangerous situations, they said, but between 10 percent and 25 percent of the officers go beyond that.
This was the maelstrom that coach Tylon Outlaw walked into on Dec. 17, 2004.
The coach had gone to a Hartford restaurant to meet with friends regarding a proposed business venture. Upon leaving, he spoke with several other friends he recognized in a taxi cab.
An undercover Hartford detective driving an unmarked car yelled at the coach, "Hey motherfucker."
Perceiving this to be an informal urban pleasantry, he responded in kind.
The plain clothes detective, Troy Gordon, did not identify himself as a police officer. He did, however, park and ultimately charge at the coach, kicking him in the stomach. As the coach was able to block a second kick with his hands, he was struck in the head from behind with a police baton by another officer.
He fell to the ground, yelling for help. On his back he curled into a fetal position as he was repeatedly struck in the head, arms and legs with a baton and kicked in the back and stomach. As he tried to cover his face, officer Michael Allen hit him in the right knee with the baton, breaking his kneecap.
Among the eyewitnesses, a ballroom dance instructor described the scene this way: "A crowd of people 10 converged on what looked to be one person ... seemed to be multiple people, five or six, again, beating somebody up pretty badly, kicking, throwing punches … it was pretty brutal.”
Upon entering a nearby restaurant, the witness exclaimed: “You should see what’s going on outside, the police are really wailing into somebody ... “Holy shit guys you should have seen them. I mean, there’s Hartford, the Hartford cops are beating the shit out of some guy outside… yeah, man, it’s freaking crazy.”
Clearly, there were more than two officers involved in the beating of the coach, either as participants or witnesses. It is not unusual for the city of Hartford to hide the identities of cops in these matters. Indeed, in an unrelated case filed in 2011, the late U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz wrote: “Discovery is not supposed to be a shell game, where the hidden ball is moved round and round and only revealed after so many false guesses are made and so much money is squandered ... Defense counsel is not entitled to transform discovery of the names of police officers ... into a game of hide-and-seek."
From a reading of court records, it appears possible police had mistaken the coach for another person involved in a different incident. Indeed, once the coach was taken to the Hartford Hospital he was booked under a false name. His family and friends could not find him or talk to him for some time.
"It was a big hush-hush cover-up thing in the hospital," his surgeon testified in a deposition.
During a brief lull in the beat down, Allen placed the coach face down on the pavement, cuffed his hands and dragged him for 60-odd feet and threw him to the pavement between parked cars, where the coach landed on his face. Blood was dripping from his head and face.
After surgery at the hospital, police shackled his legs to his bed.
The coach was falsely charged with breach of peace, being intoxicated in a roadway, threatening a police officer and assault on a police officer. This tactic is standard operating procedure after a beat down.
To get rid of the case, he took a plea for the infraction of "creating a public disturbance." This disposition shows prosecutors recognized the case for what it is -- the beat-down of an innocent man.
The federal court found that conflicting testimony by Gordon and Allen was "not credible."
The court found that "the testimony by Detective Gordon that the Plaintiff struck him, or, as Officer Allen testified, that Plaintiff grabbed the detective by his coat, is not credible and not true. Plaintiff is more credible when he testified that he was accosted by an unknown man on a dark street whom he feared was holding a gun. Without warning, he was kicked in the midsection by Detective Gordon and then struck from behind by Officer Allen. This testimony is corroborated by the testimony of the witnesses in the cab, as well as the undisputed testimony that it was Detective Gordon who got out of his car and approached Plaintiff without identifying himself as a police officer."
The court found further that "Officer Allen's testimony that Plaintiff fought with Detective Gordon and then continued to try to kick Officer Allen after being knocked to the ground by a blow to the head is not credible. Officer Allen struck Plaintiff at least four times with a police baton -- drawing blood with the blows to the head and later breaking Plaintiff's knee. Plaintiff's version that he was struck from behind by Officer Allen, fell to the ground, attempted to protect his head where he had already been hit, and was then struck on the knee is more credible than Officer Allen's version of events."
In a deposition on Jan. 4, 2016, Dr. Christopher Lena, an orthopedic surgeon, testified about the coach's fractured kneecap [patella] and lacerations over his face. Some of the lacerations required stapling.
"The patella is ... a small bone that sits in the front of the knee," the surgeon said. "It is required for extension of your leg. It's what helps you to ascend, descend stairs. It helps you getting up from a seated position. It bears a lot of weight, and the cartilage over it is somewhat sensitive ... he developed significant post-traumatic arthritic changes over the years secondary to the fracture that he sustained and the decrease in blood supply to the cartilage, which has led to his bone-on-bone contact ... We have been putting him off [for knee replacement] as long as we can ... [because of his relatively young age] ... he has consistently over the years been coming back to us discussing and having continued problems."
The city of Hartford's ruse of flip-flopping on the question of covering or indemnifying police officers for civil rights violations was characterized by The Hartford Courant in another case -- in which a Hartford cop shot and killed a dog in front of a 10-year-old girl in 2006 -- as a negotiating tactic. Last year, the city finally paid a total of about $885,000 in damages after flip-flopping on the indemnification issue in the dog case.
The third case [Edwards v. Cornell] involves a $410,000 jury award from an excessive force incident in 2012. This case is still being litigated on issues including indemnification.
Hartford has taken the position that because an officer acts “intentionally,” where a civil rights violation is found by a jury, they are not required to indemnify. However, state law requires the city to indemnify the officer for a civil rights violation. The city only gets off the hook legally if the officer’s conduct is found to be willful or wanton / malicious.
Among Hartford’s delaying tactics in paying: equating an “intentional act” with a “malicious act.” Sometimes, legally, these are one and the same, but not necessarily.
"Under two state statutes and court precedent, a municipality remains liable to indemnify any public employee found liable for civil rights violations unless they notify the parties and the courts [ahead of time for actual malicious conduct] that they won't pay." said Hartford attorney Jon Schoenhorn, who prevailed in the dog killing case. "Any claim to the contrary is specious."
Indeed, just as the officers involved in the dog case were compelled to sue the city to enforce compliance with state indemnification laws, a lawyer for officer Allen in the beat down case filed a similar action in May of this year. That lawyer, Patrick Tomasiewicz, did not respond to repeated calls and messages.
In his May filing, Tomasiewicz wrote: "The City's obligation to indemnify is a mandatory rather than a discretionary duty; the plaintiff has a clear legal right to have the obligation performed; and, there is no other adequate remedy at law ... The City's refusal to indemnify him is contrary to law."
"Most cities want to encourage out-of-town people to patronize local business," said one of the coach's lawyers, Raymond Rigat. "Here, the message seems to be: 'Welcome to Hartford, catch an old fashioned police beat-down, go to the hospital -- it's your problem not ours.' This is another reason it is so puzzling to me why Hartford refuses to make this right."
Editor's Note: Since 2000, the Cool Justice column has appeared in newspapers including The Connecticut Law Tribune and The New Haven Register. Many of those columns are compiled in two books, "Law and Justice in Everyday Life," and "more COOL JUSTICE." The second collection http://morecooljustice.com/ features columns credited with helping to free a woman unjustly imprisoned for premeditated murder.
Watch for follow-ups to this column at http://www.inqnews.com/ and http://cooljustice.blogspot.com/. This column may be reprinted or reposted courtesy of Inquiring News. Inquiring News is the cornerstone media targeting African Americans throughout Southern New England each week. The five-paper chain has the largest circulation of any Black publishing organization in New England.