One of four East Haven officers involved in the notorious civil rights case against New Haven area Latinos has pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of civil rights. His plea came in a late Friday afternoon appearance in U.S. Federal Court in Hartford.
According to the New Haven Register, East Haven Police Sgt. John Miller “pleaded guilty only to Count 10 of his 10-count indictment. He admitted to ‘depriving an individual of his right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer.’ A conspiracy charge was among those that were dropped as part of the plea and cooperation agreements Miller signed. ”
He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 1. Miller, according to his attorney, admitted punching the man, who was in handcuffs at the time, but was not a minority. The attorney, Donald Cretella, told the Register the victim “was Italian,” admitting Miller “lost his temper.” The attorney also said Miller “was adamant about not doing anything to any minorities.”
According to the Hartford Courant, the indictment against Miller and officers Dennis Spaulding, Jason Zullo and David Cari “charges that officers conspired to create and perpetuate an environment in which the use of unreasonable force and illegal searches and seizures was tolerated and encouraged. They used their status and authority as police officers to advance that conspiracy, to file false and misleading reports to cover up their illegal conduct, and sought to create an environment in the police department that not only tolerated but encouraged such illegal conduct.”
The federal case grew out of the police officers’ arrest of the Rev. James Manship who was detained in 2009 after videotaping the police while they were inside a Latino parishioner’s store. The officers’ statements clearly contradicted what the video showed happening.