Some community groups in Hartford – and one state legislator – are condemning two police officers for their use of force during an arrest that was caught on camera. The Hartford police officers were seen subduing a suspect, who was resisting arrest, while one officer was striking him the leg with a baton to get him down.
Police Chief James Rovella said in a Tuesday press conference that he is not condemning or justifying the officers’ actions this early in the investigation, but he did warn that the public was not getting a complete picture of the incident from the video.
A crowd started forming around the scene Sunday evening in an alleyway, and one onlooker recorded the incident from an apartment window above. State Representative Brandon McGee Jr. shared the video on his Facebook page Monday night, calling the arrest “disturbing “ and commenting that this was “police use of brutal force.”
Police say the suspect Samuel Bryant was stopped after officers saw him drinking from an open wine cooler in a brown bag. While searching Bryant they found a knife and felt a “heavy object in a coat pocket consistent with a firearm,” according to the incident report. They instructed Bryant to put his hands on the police car.
But during the search of Bryant, officers say he pushed off the car. One officer grabbed him by the back of his coat, the other grabbed Bryant from behind in a bear hug. At that point, they say, Bryant started throwing punches and swinging his elbow. He hit one of the officers in the nose, breaking it. That officer was temporarily knocked unconscious by the blow, police said.
Police say Bryant, who served 10 years in prison on an attempted murder conviction, was in possession of crack and powdered cocaine. He was not carrying a gun.
He was charged with drinking in public, interfering with police, assault on a public safety officer and possession of narcotics, according to the Hartford Courant.
Bystander video uploaded to Facebook under the title ‘Police Brutality’