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State To Release Internal Affairs Reports On Troopers In Controversial Videotaped Arrest

Officials said Tuesday they would release portions of internal affairs reports on three state troopers who were videotaped discussing what to charge an East Hartford man protesting a DUI checkpoint in West Hartford in 2015.

Reporters with the Associated Press and the Journal Inquirer both filed appeals to the Freedom of Information Commission after the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection denied their requests for copies of the internal affairs reports and the troopers’ personnel files. Internal affairs investigated after the protester, Michael Picard, posted a video he took at the scene Sept. 11, 2016 on YouTube. Picard, 27, had been protesting the DUI checkpoint by standing near it with a sign warning drivers to beware of police ahead.

At a hearing before a Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer Tuesday, Mark Dumas, representing the Connecticut State Police Union, said the troopers didn’t take issue with releasing the report but wanted their home addresses redacted before they were distributed. He also said the troopers, John Barone, Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi, were exonerated after internal affairs investigated.

“Internal affairs found the members didn’t do anything wrong,” Dumas said.

The three troopers initially objected to the release of the reports, claiming an invasion of privacy and citing a breach of their collective bargaining agreement, according to files provided by FOI staff.

Dumas said Picard “did not cooperate” with internal affairs during its investigation.

“The video that was posted online was highly edited, leaving out a lot of important information that supports the troopers acted properly,” Dumas said.

In the video posted by Picard a trooper can be heard saying, “We gotta cover our asses.”

Picard, of East Hartford, was given two tickets for creating a public disturbance and reckless use of the highway. Those charges were later dismissed in court.

Joseph Sastre, representing Picard in a civil rights lawsuit against the three troopers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, and Picard attended Tuesday’s hearing. Sastre disputed Dumas’ claims that the video was edited.

The reports and personnel files will include some redactions — the troopers home addresses, employee ID numbers, months and days of birth and social security numbers.

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection attorney Christine Plourde said during the meeting that the “body of the IA” should be ready in the next two days, but requested “reasonable time” to produce the personnel files because staff will be out of the office for about a week.

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