The incident was over in a matter of minutes. But just days after the controversial arrest of a Quinnipiac University student by New Haven policemen was videotaped by an eyewitness, it has led to a contentious debate over police brutality and students’ rights.
It began when an unidentified Quinnipiac University student tried to enter Toad’s Place, a popular college hangout in New Haven. According to eyewitnesses, he had a bloody finger and was not allowed inside the bar. At some point, several police officers were called over by the bouncer.
The matter might have ended there had not a bystander captured several minutes of the Sept. 25 incident with his cell phone camera. Within hours, Kenneth Hartford—the one who filmed his friend’s arrest—found himself behind bars charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a police investigation. Within days, the unsettling scene had infiltrated classrooms, was replayed for professors, students and lawyers. It was also posted online by the university’s newspaper, the Chronicle.
Hartford was tackled and handcuffed by an officer just minutes after he had begun to film the arrest, according to an article in the Chronicle.
At the beginning of the video, one officer, who began dancing when the camera was turned on, looked into the camera and said, “Watch this.” He then questioned the student being arrested, asking him if he was with Hartford. When the student replied, “Yes,” the officer addressed another officer. “Cuff him up,” he said. Also, officers can be heard swearing and making threats toward Hartford. One even went so far as to say, “Put that in your f-g pocket and get the f- out of here.”
In the state of Connecticut, there are currently no laws restricting the filming of police officers.
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