Hartford Police Sergeant charged with assault in March use-of-force incident, bodycam footage released

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A Hartford Police Sergeant has been charged with third-degree assault for a use-of-force incident.

The bodycam footage from March shows 44-year-old Felicia Jenkins – who was brought in on charges related to a domestic violence incident – yelling at the officer while being booked.

A female officer tries to calm Jenkins down, but she continues to use racial slurs and threatens violence against the police. It’s when she lunges towards police that the situation escalates.

Shortly after, you see Jenkins spit at Sgt. James Guzie. That’s when Sgt. Guzie reacted, running at her and allegedly punching her. He claims he feared he was about to be attacked.

RELATED: Hartford Police Officer under investigation after hitting woman during fight inside booking room

The Hartford Police Department and Hartford’s State’s Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into the use-of-force incident. Guzie, has now been arrested and charged with assault in the third degree. He is now on administrative leave.

Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody called Guzie and Jenkins’ actions “unacceptable.”

He said, “While this incident should not have happened, it is evidence that our use-of-force review process is thorough and effective and that we take accountability seriously.”

WEB EXTRA: Bodycam footage from March shows use-of-force incident inside booking room back in March

Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement Monday regarding the arrest of Sgt. Guzie:

“There is no excuse for striking someone in this situation, and Chief Thody did exactly the right thing, which was to order an investigation and refer this incident to the State’s Attorney for independent action.  The Chief and the Department acted proactively and quickly, and I hope their handling of this incident sends a clear message about how seriously the department takes any inappropriate use of force, even when no weapons are used.”

The Hartford Police Union also responded, saying Guzie needed to take action before any officers were injured.

Officer Anthony Rinaldi, president of the Hartford Police Union said:

Police Unions across the state have pushed back against the Police Accountability Bill because of these types of situations. When you watch the Body-Worn Camera footage you will see an arrestee that is not only using racial and derogatory names towards Hartford Police Officers but is also threatening officers with physical violence.

These same officers are seen on camera hesitating to use force to get the arrestee in compliance as she assaults one of them. When an officer is assaulted there is no time for hesitation on the part of the officer—Officers need to act swiftly in order to keep the situation from getting out of control.

Sergeant Guzie could see that the arrestee was getting more aggressive towards his officers and that action needed to be taken before his officers were injured. He used appropriate and minimum force to bring the arrestee under compliance, and his actions were in line with Hartford Police Department policy and procedures.

The Hartford Police Union stands by its members—Law Enforcement is under attack as they continue to keep law and order.

Sgt. Guzie will appear in Hartford Superior court for his arraignment in a couple of weeks.

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