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'Trigger Happy' Connecticut Cop Fired

Stephen Barone, who is white, was filmed threatening group of minority men in Hartford
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2018 2:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Connecticut police officer caught on video telling a group of young people he was feeling "trigger happy" was fired Wednesday, the Hartford Courant reports. "There’s no scenario in which Mr. Barone can return to his duties as a productive member of the Hartford Police Department," Police Chief David Rosado said in announcing Stephen Barone's termination. Barone, then a sergeant, stopped seven men he suspected of trespassing during the Aug. 9 incident. As one of the men recorded the encounter on his phone, Barone said, "If anybody wants to fight or run, I’m a little trigger happy guys, I'm not gonna lie." The video went viral, and a month later, the city released a second video in which Barone can be heard explaining why it would be inconvenient if he had to fire his weapon, noting that if he did so, he would be ineligible for overtime and would have to "move from my nice house."

Barone, a 10-year department veteran, said during the internal affairs review that his statements were "effective in maintaining control," but that he could have chosen "better" words and that he regretted "how this is being portrayed" in the media. Critics said the incident highlights the mistrust between Hartford's mostly white police department and the city's population, which is 84% nonwhite, but police investigators ultimately decided Barone did not violate the civil rights of the men, who were mostly black and Hispanic. Critics also pointed out that just 7% of Hartford PD officers live in the city; among Barone's other filmed comments, he noted at one point that only "junkies" come to Hartford from the wealthy suburb of Glastonbury, where he lives. Barone can appeal his firing. WFSB has the ACLU's response to his termination; the statement says, among other things, "Hartford's overall lack of police accountability guarantees a bad system, not just bad apples." (Read more police officer stories.)

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