After conducting a six-minute interview concerning a brutality complaint against the Meriden police chief's son, the head of the department's internal affairs division told the officer that he was "just going through the motions" and would have the investigation wrapped up quickly.
Sgt. Leonard Caponigro chuckled with Officer Evan Cossette about the size of the man who filed the complaint at the end of the interview, department records show.
As the police department faces allegations from within that Cossette has been given preferential treatment related to brutality charges because he is Police Chief Jeffry Cossette's son, the handling of Methvin's brutality complaint will likely draw the interest of independent investigators that city officials have said they might hire.
Methvin's complaint is one of three of excessive force made against Evan Cossette in less than a year, records show.
In two cases, Cossette was exonerated. In a third, involving a handcuffed prisoner who suffered a cracked skull when Cossette pushed him into a concrete bench in a holding cell, the officer received a letter of reprimand and was told by the deputy chief that "a mistake was made."
Two officers, Donald Huston and Brian Sullivan, sent a letter last week to City Manager Lawrence Kendzior seeking an independent investigation of the way the police department handles internal affairs complaints and discipline of officers. Kendzior said he is considering hiring an outside investigator to review the allegations.
Neither Chief Cossette nor Caponigro could not be reached for comment Thursday. In previous statements, Cossette has said that the two officers who filed the complaint do not have the backing of the police union and are disgruntled employees out to get him and his family.
"I have always operated the Police Department in a transparent environment. I am confident that any inquiry will reveal a fair and equitable rendering of discipline within the Meriden Police Department,'' the chief said in a written statement Wednesday.
Methvin was arrested on Oct. 5, 2010, after his wife called police and said that he was drunk and belligerent.
Internal affairs records show that Cerejo was the first officer on the scene, followed by Evan Cossette. The officers told Caponigro in their separate interviews that Methvin was profane, threatening, would not listen to Cerejo's commands to go back into the house and would not turn over his license.
When Cerejo attempted to handcuff Methvin, a scuffle broke out and Cossette acknowledged that he kneed Methvin in the mouth, causing him to bleed. Although Cossette later described the injuries as "superficial" in his internal affairs interview, Methvin was transported to the hospital and needed six stitches to close the gash on his jaw where his teeth ripped through.
Cossette was using a cruiser with a video camera and also was wearing a body microphone that had automatically been turned on as he was responding to the scene. Although the videotape from the vehicle doesn't capture the physical confrontation, the microphone does capture a conversation between Cerejo and Cossette as they stand by a cruiser watching medical personnel attend to Methvin.
Cerejo asks Cossette, "How did that happen to his face?" and Cossette replies that he kneed him.
Cerejo then said that he "saw a shot come in from somewhere" and that he could hear the "skin on skin" contact, to which Cossette replies, while laughing, "That was my knee hitting his face."
A second brutality complaint against Evan Cossette occurred in January at MidState Medical Center.
In a notice of intent to sue the city, attorney Sally Roberts, representing Joseph G. Bryans, alleges that Evan Cossette tackled Bryans in the parking lot and, after he handcuffed him, shot Bryans several times in the back with a stun gun. The complaint also alleges that Cossette handcuffed Bryans to a hospital bed and ignored complaints by Bryans that the handcuffs were too tight. The complaint alleges that he suffered nerve damage in his wrist as a result.
Roberts filed an unnecessary force complaint with the department on Bryans' behalf. Cossette was cleared of any wrongdoing by internal affairs.
Both of those incidents came after Evan Cossette was disciplined for an incident in the holding cell involving a prisoner named Pedro Temich. The town has also been served a notice of intent to sue in the Temich case.