Details have emerged from a June incident where a Connecticut police officer knocked out a suspect in the back of his cruiser, with Wallingford Police Chief William Wright defending the actions of his officer- to a point.
Officer Joseph Smith knocked Gary J. King out with a single punch in the back of his cruiser following a domestic violence call on June 14, resulting in a two-week suspension.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Record-Journal, the dash camera footage from Officer Nicholas Judkins’ cruiser has been released, revealing that King was behaving violently at the time of his arrest.
Attempting to subdue King and put him into the cruiser, Smith delivered a punch that knocked King out instantly, which resulted in his suspension.
“Everything up until the strike, everything is appropriate,” Chief Wright said, “and then thereafter the strike, everything is appropriate…They lended the due care that was necessary. It was that moment in time that, in an attempt to finally gain control of the situation, that the strike to the head took place that we can’t condone.”
It was later discovered that King -who was intoxicated- had headbutted Officer Anthony Baur and pulled out a knife on officers.
King pleaded guilty to felony assault on public safety personnel.
Review of the footage by the CT State Police resulted in the determination that there was no criminal intent by Smith to harm King.
According to the Record-Journal, the Wallingford Police Department saw things differently, and ultimately suspended Smith.
“Through their instruction, it’s consistently held that you never, ever, ever, strike anyone in the head,” Wright said. “Even in this case where (King) is fighting with them.”
Smith has been on workers com and pensation since the incident and local police union spokesperson Larry Dorman said that up until the strike, Smith had a perfect record of professionalism in the nine years he’s been with WPD.
“(Smith’s) record to this point had been spotless,” Dorman’s statement said. This is an isolated incident that should not be interpreted as a reflection of the dedicated police officers who protect and serve the people of Wallingford.”
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