Police officer put on administrative leave after brutality claim
March 23, 2006
STRATFORD, Conn. --A Stratford police officer is on administrative leave after being accused of brutality by a town councilman.
Officer David Gugliotti was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, a day after he was called to break up a fight between several teenage girls outside a Stratford restaurant.
Police and eyewitness statements indicate at least four girls were involved in the fight outside Mitchell's Caribbean Delights. Titasheen Mitchell, 15, the daughter of restaurant owner Marcia Mitchell-Davis, said she was trying to keep the fight away from the restaurant's doors when she got pulled into the fracas.
In a police report, Gugliotti said the teenager tried to hit him as he was breaking up the fight and he struck her arms to defend himself. But Town Councilman Alvin O'Neal, who witnessed the fight, said Gugliotti threw the 15-year-old girl onto his police cruiser and punched her twice in the face. The girl was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Gugliotti also arrested O'Neal and charged him with interfering with police and breach of peace. O'Neal said he was arrested when he tried to stop the officer from striking the teenager.
"I told the officer ... to stop punching the girl and he told me to shut up," O'Neal told the Connecticut Post. "When I identified myself as the district councilman, he said he didn't care who the (expletive) I was. Then, I was handcuffed and thrown in the back of the police car and verbally taunted."
Mitchell-Davis said O'Neal should be credited with saving her daughter.
"If Councilman O'Neal wasn't there to stop the officer from continuing to slam her against the car and punching her, my daughter could have easily become a paraplegic or even been killed," she said.
Mayor James Miron, who met with about 70 residents Wednesday night at a community forum, promised a complete investigation. "I take any allegation of any abuse by anybody, including a police officer, seriously," he said in a statement. "It will not be tolerated."
But some residents said the incident is a sign of bigger problems in the police department.
"When that officer put his hand on that elected official, we have crossed the line somewhere," Stratford resident Clyde Nicholson said.
O'Neal is charged with interfering with police and breach of peace, while Mitchell is charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, breach of peace and third-degree assault. Both are due in Bridgeport Superior Court on March 30.
Also arrested in connection with the original fight are two girls, ages 14 and 15. Both are charged with third-degree assault, breach of peace, and interfering with police. They were released to their mothers and are due in court March 30.
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