Cop union counters O'Neal now accused of road rage
RICHARD WEIZEL firstname.lastname@example.org STRATFORD — Councilman Alvin O'Neal, D-2, must be removed from office for "grossly and repeatedly violating the Town Charter" by interfering with police during a South End br
Just days before he plans to lead a Town Hall rally on Saturday against alleged police brutality and racism, calls for O'Neal's removal from office by the 100-member Stratford Police Union were presented to the council by union leaders — including two minority officers who reside in Stratford.
O'Neal maintains he and 15-year-old Titasheen Mitchell, who are black, were the victims of police brutality during a March 21 arrest by Officer David Gugliotti, who is white. O'Neal says he first asked and then tried to stop the officer from repeatedly hitting the teen and slamming her against his patrol car.
Stratford Councilman Alvin O'Neal, right, walks past Stratford police officers Shawn Farmer, left and Carlos Castro, second from left after they addressed the town council requesting O'Neal be removed as second district councilman. (CT POST / Brian A. Pounds )
O'Neal on Monday strongly denied the "road rage" allegations, saying police have "trumped this up in an effort to discredit me.
"This is all a lie. The police are making something up that never happened," said O'Neal, adding he was first notified about the complaint Sunday at 11:15 p.m. at his home by Stratford police. "This is incredible, but they are just creating a complaint that never happened.
"Why is this being brought out now, more than two months after this supposedly happened?" O'Neal asked.
John Tabak, of Flora Drive, who made the complaint, declined to confirm or deny Monday the incident when reached by phone Monday, hanging up on a reporter.
But police Officers Ulysses Munoz and Carlos Castro read a prepared statement to council members demanding O'Neal be removed.
"The members of the Stratford Police Union hope that the Town Council can unite and do what is right for the town and investigate and permanently remove Alvin O'Neal from his elected office," Munoz said.
"Alvin O'Neal has tainted and tarnished the integrity of the office of our elected officials through his inappropriate, immoral and illegal behavior," Munoz said. Despite an internal affairs investigation by the Police Department that exonerated
Gugliotti, O'Neal and Mitchell continue to insist the officer used excessive force and foul language while arresting them.
Mayor James R. Miron concurred with the report's findings that there is a "lack of evidence to substantiate the complaints."
But Miron angrily denounced the union Monday, as well as the Police Department's "inappropriate" action earlier in the day forcing removal of a sign in support of Mitchell at her mother's restaurant, Caribbean Delights, on Main Street.
"The police should stick to doing their job and leave council matters to the council, and zoning matters to the zoning department," Miron said. "Alvin O'Neal has not been found guilty of anything.
"All I know is police did take action today that was not within their jurisdiction," Miron said.
According to police, Tabak last Thursday reported a May 1 incident with O'Neal. The report states that "Tabak reported a road rage incident that occurred on Church Street that involved Councilman Alvin O'Neal."
After a confrontation over a parking space, the report quotes Tabak telling police that O'Neal repeatedly screamed "Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who I am?"
Tabak stated in the police statement that O'Neal "glared into his passenger side window, and was flailing his arms while screaming."
Town Council Chairman James Feehan, R-9, turned the matter over to Town Attorney Richard Buturla, indicating he "isn't clear at the present time what our authority is as a council."