East Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - Today is the last day Leonard Gallo will be police chief in East Haven. His retirement comes a day after four of his officers faced a federal judge.
It's been three years since a priest took a video of what looked like East Haven police hassling Latino store owners. That video sparked a federal invesitgation of racial profiling. Last week four officers were indicted, and Chief Leonard Gallo's attorney admitted the chief is an un-named co-conspirator. On Monday we learned Chief Gallo was stepping down.
"Chief Len Gallo notified me of his intent to retire as chief of the East Haven Police Department," said Mayor Joseph Maturo at a press conference.
That meant Gallo would get a full pension and a $100,000 in unused sick time. Tuesday night the Police commission voted to fire Gallo instead. That started its own uproar.
"Who is that going to benefit in this town? Not the taxpayers of East Haven," one resident said.
The commission doesn't have the power to fire the chief, only the Mayor does [read his statement below].
Maturo named Deputy Chief John Mannion as the acting Chief until a permanent replacement can be found. He starts today and folks are hoping for an improvement.
Religious leaders held two different press conferences this week to discuss plans to improve relations between the latino population and police, but even they admit it will take a while.
"Look, this is just an enormous problem, and we're not going to get out of this is a few days, a few months," said Father Manship.
Even as the Chief steps down, word from federal court is a second grand jury is now investigating East Haven Police.
Those officers -- David Cari, Dennis Spaulding, Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller -- went to Hartford yesterday and stood in front of Judge Alvin Thomspon. The idea was to work out some concerns about the case.
The prosecutor is worried about handing over names of witnesses against the officers, because some of their fellow officers will be testifying against them. Newspaper reports say either a witness wore a wire or somebody made some kind of recording as part of the investigation. The papers report defense attorneys worry there could be more charges filed.
If all goes according to plan, those four police officers will be on trial starting January of next year.
In response to the request by the East haven Board of Police Commissioners to terminate Gallo, Maturo released the following statement:
"After consultation with legal counsel for the Town, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the town of East Haven that the town decline to terminate Chief Gallo's employment. The statutory requirements to terminate a Chief of Police, along with the legal costs of the likely litigation in response to a decision to terminate, weigh heavily in favor of accepting the Chief's retirement as opposed to terminating his employment. This decision is both legally prudent and financially sound and represents a swift resolution that will allow the town to focus on healing and moving forward."
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