State Troopers Fired After Arrest In Alleged Kidnapping, Assault

State police have fired two troopers who are facing charges that they assaulted a man who had inappropriately touched one of their girlfriends at a party last February.

Xavier Cruz and Rupert Laird were fired after internal affairs reviews of their arrests, said State Police spokeswoman Kelly Grant. Cruz was fired as of Monday, while Laird is terminated as of Tuesday, Grant confirmed. They were hired as troopers in June 2012.

Both men appeared briefly in Superior Court in New Britain on Monday for pre-trial hearings on their criminal cases. They are charged with first-degree kidnapping, deprivation of rights by force or threat and second-degree assault. They were arrested by Wethersfield police following an incident that occurred at Cruz’s house on Feb. 18.

Both are scheduled to return to court Nov. 13.

Laird’s lawyer, Aaron Romano, said Monday that Laird would be appealing the decision.

“It is unfortunate because he has been a loyal employee. He loves his job and is saddened by the decision,” he said.

Michael Blanchard, who represents Cruz, could not be reached for comment.

The incident that led to their firing started with a group of people drinking at T's Cafe on Airport Road in Hartford, court records show. The victim knew both Cruz and Laird and was invited back to a party at Cruz’s house.

The victim told police there were about seven people partying in the kitchen when he started flirting with a female and grabbed her buttocks, according to the arrest warrant.

The victim left the party, but when he went home his girlfriend wouldn't let him in the apartment so he texted Cruz to ask if he could return to his house. He told police that as soon as he pulled into Cruz's driveway, Laird pulled in behind him in a Volvo and blocked him in.

As the two men walked into Cruz's home, the victim told police, Laird took a black handgun from his pants and pointed it at the victim's chest and said, "You know I can kill you, right?" Laird then said, according to the police report, "You know what, I'm not even going to do this because I am a cop, but I've got connections ... if I was going to kill you no one would find the body."

Laird then asked Cruz to get his police baton and a pair of black boots, the warrant states. They told the victim to take off his glasses. Laird told the victim he was "going to pay" for touching the woman, with whom Laird had a close relationship, the warrant states.

The troopers took the victim into the basement and told him to strip to his underwear, the warrant states, and Laird then head-butted him above the left eye, drawing blood. Laird ordered him to get on his knees and started kicking and punching him, at one point ordering the man to grab a pipe above him so that he couldn't use his arms to deflect the blows, the warrant states.

Cruz then called the woman and made the victim apologize to her. Laird then asked her to pick a number between one and 10 and, when she said four, he told Cruz that's how many beatings the victim was going to get, according to the warrant.

Laird punched the victim more than 20 times, kicked him more than 20 times and struck him with a police baton at least 15 times, according to the victim's statement in the arrest warrant.

The victim said that Cruz didn't strike him, but also didn't stop Laird. At one point, the victim told police, he asked Cruz "to make him stop" and Cruz said no.

Once the beating was over, the warrant states, the troopers handed the victim napkins and a bottle of carpet cleaner and told him to clean up the blood. Laird then told the victim to tell people that he fell while he was drunk and not to tell anyone what had happened, according to the warrant.

Wethersfield police obtained a search warrant for Cruz's house and searched his basement, where they said they found a paper towel in the garbage covered in blood as well as droplets of blood on the wall, on the front of a refrigerator and inside the refrigerator. The victim told police that Laird took a few breaks and grabbed a beer in the refrigerator before starting the beatings again.

They also seized a piece of carpet that appeared to have a bloodstain on it and a Woolite carpet cleaner can with a scrub brush on the end that contained blood.

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