A retired Hartford police sergeant whose assault of an arrestee was captured on police car video last summer was convicted Thursday of third-degree assault.
Sean C. Spell, 46, of East Hartford pleaded no contest to the charge before Hartford Superior Court Judge Omar A. Williams. The no contest plea was recorded in court records as “guilty.”
Andrew Crumbie, Spell’s attorney, said Thursday that his client entered that plea “as a means of expeditiously concluding the case against him.”
Spell received a one-year suspended jail sentence and will be on probation for two years. He must also perform 25 hours of community service while on probation.
The former sergeant was recorded on a West Hartford dashboard camera kicking Emilio Diaz — a suspect in a prolonged chase in a stolen car — in the head as Diaz was prone and handcuffed on the ground.
The injuries borne by Diaz and Ricardo Perez, the car’s driver, during the arrest on June 4, 2016, led to an excessive-force investigation by Hartford police, which was then taken over by the office of the chief state’s attorney.
Both suspects were intoxicated on several illegal substances, including alcohol, marijuana and PCP during the chase and faced criminal charges of their own from the incident, according to police reports.
Spell retired in August 2016 amid the investigation. He stressed at the time that his decision to retire had nothing to do with the probe into the arrest. A 20-year veteran of the department, Spell draws an annual pension of $129,977 from the city, paid out in monthly installments of $10,831.
In December, state police investigators arrested Spell, concluding that he used inappropriate force against Diaz. He had told detectives that he kicked Diaz because he was spitting blood from a wound on his forehead at officers, and hoped that the kick would “snap this f----- out of it and stop him from spitting," according to the warrant for his arrest.
Earlier this year, Hartford police concluded its own internal investigation into the incident. Sgt. Kevin O’Brien, a member of the department’s Internal Affaris unit, ruled that had Spell not retired, he would’ve been subject to discipline for violating department standards.
In his report, O’Brien wrote that the “foot strike” to Diaz, who was in “a position of disadvantage” was “excessive, along with technique not being within training guidelines of the Hartford Police Department.”