May 25--A former federal prosecutor has concluded there is not enough evidence to conclude that nepotism or favortism played a role into the way allegations against an officer who is also the chief's son have been handled.
Hartford attorney Thomas Daily was hired 13 months ago by City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior after two police officers, Brian Sullivan and Donald Huston, submitted a letter to Kendzior claiming that Officer Evan Cossette got favorable treatment because he is the son of Police Chief Jeffry Cossette.
"I am gratified that this process has come to an end and the results are what we all expected -- that there is no favoritism in our police department. It is now time to move on and do what we do best -- protect the citizens of Meriden," said Jeffry Cossette.
Evan Cossette was accused of police brutality three times within about a 13 month period. Only once were the charges substantiated, in a case where Evan Cossette is caught on a security tape pushing a handcuffed inmate into a holdong cell.
Kendzior said Evan Cossette will return to active duty this weekend. He said numerous internal affairs complaints against the officers who filed original complaint have been substantiated but no determination has been made on their penalties.
Daily said his conclusion does not mean he would "necessarily agree" with the findings of internal investigations into Evan Cossette's actions or the discipline imposed.
In the case caught on videotape, inmate Pedro Temich fell backward and cracked his head on a stone bench in the cell. The video showed an unconscious and bleeding Temich lying in the floor while Evan Cossette came in and out of the cell, eventually sitting him up and taking the handcuffs off before medical personnel arrived.
The Temich video drew the attention of state and federal investigators who announced a joint investigation into police brutality allegations against Evan Cossette and the department as a whole. A grand jury has been hearing evidence sporadically since April of 2011. That investigation is still on-going.
The then-head of internal affairs Leonard Caponigro, who has since died, did find that Evan Cossette violated department regulations in the Temich incident but his recommendation was overruled by Deputy Police Chief Timothy Tupolos, who instead issued a written reprimand.
All three of the men that have accused Evan Cossette of police brutality -- Temich, Joseph Bryans and Robert Methvin -- have either been before the grand jury or been interviewed by FBI agents. All three also have filed federal lawsuits against the police department that are pending.
Methvin has since been arrested again in similar domestic dispute charges and served a 30-day prison sentence. Bryans plead guilty and received a suspended sentence.
Evan Cossette has been on administrative duty since the federal investigation was announced.
Attorney's representing some of the officers or arrestees involved in these cases have raised questions about how independent Daily's investigation really was since an internal affairs officer from the police department sat in on every interview done with a Meriden police officer.
"It appears that they just hired some gun to clear them," said attorney Frank Cannetelli, who has filed notices of intent to sue the city on behalf of Huston, Sullivan and a third officer retired Sgt. Buddy Gibbs.
"I would like to know exactly what was and wasn't investigated. I have serious problems with the way this was handled," Cannatelli said.
Gibbs became the subject of an internal affairs investigation after he was interviewed by Daily and changed his story. In his original three minute internal affairs interview Gibbs backed up Evan Cossette's version of events regarding the Temich incident -- that Temich was unruly and that Cossette feared he was going to attack him even though Temich's hands were handcuffed behind his back.
But Gibbs has since told federal investigators and Daily that it was Cossette who was swearing at Temich and threatening Temich. Gibbs said that he lied originally because Cossette was the chief's son and Gibbs didn't want to get in trouble with the hierarchy of the department.
Lt. Mark Malerysiak, who replaced Caponigro as head of internal affairs, attended Gibbs interview with Daily and later filed opened an internal affairs investigation against him for filing a false report. The investigation was dropped when Gibbs retired.
Copyright 2012 - The Hartford Courant, Conn.