Excessive force arresting Councilman Alvin O'Neal
2006-07-19 STRATFORD, CONNECTICUT — An internal probe into complaints that a veteran police officer used excessive force arresting Councilman Alvin O'Neal and a 15-year-old girl is finished, but officials are reviewing the report before making it public next week.
"Much of the information still has to be thoroughly reviewed and a recommendation made to me by police on the officer," Mayor James Miron said. "This may be taking longer than people want it to, but it is a matter of such significance that we have to take our time and make the right decision." Miron said he would not necessarily go along with the Police Department's recommendation on discipline, if any, regarding the allegations against Officer David Gugliotti, which will be released with the report next Friday.
"I have to weigh all the evidence, the internal affairs report and what all the witnesses had to say and consider the department's recommendation, too," Miron said.
During a March 21 melee outside a South End restaurant, O'Neal contends Gugliotti punched him in the chest when he tried to stop the officer from hitting and "slamming" 15-year-old Titasheen Mitchell against a car after the teen allegedly resisted arrest. The incident occurred outside the Caribbean Delights restaurant at Main Street and Woodend Road, which is owned by Mitchell's mother.
Witnesses say Gugliotti punched the girl, who was resisting arrest after a fight between two other girls, and then she allegedly struck the officer. O'Neal said he was arrested and punched when he intervened and asked Gugliotti to stop hitting Mitchell.
Gugliotti, a 12-year police veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave, though the police union wants him back on the job.
Mitchell recently appeared in Juvenile Court in Bridgeport, where she was advised she could be facing between 10 and 15 years in prison, according to her mother, Marcia Mitchell-Davis.
Mitchell's attorney, Gary Mastronardi, said Friday that both he and the state's attorney's office are awaiting the results of Stratford's internal affairs probe before talking further about her case.
"I think talk of any prison time for my client is very premature at this time," Mastronardi said. "She is the victim in this case, not someone who should be charged with a crime."
The girl's mother said she still fears the worst.
"My daughter is a child and I don't can't even comprehend why she is being prosecuted at all," Mitchell-Davis said. "Why is the Police Department doing this to her after what they have already done?
"Even the parties who were fighting told police she was not involved in the fight, but that all fell on deaf ears," she said.
Mastronardi said "nothing is being ruled out" concerning a possible lawsuit against the Police Department and town.
O'Neal's attorney, Charles Kurmay, said he found it "curious" that the town didn't notify him of the mayor's meeting with police officials, or of the report's impending release.
"We hope the investigation is fair, and look forward to the outcome," Kurmay said. "I assume the result is going to be significant, one way or the other."