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Controversy over petition to pardon four disgraced ex-East Haven cops tied to racial profiling

New Haven

An online petition seeking presidential pardons of four disgraced ex-cops from East Haven is gaining steam.

“Them guys took a bad rap,” said East Haven resident Egisto Filipelli.

“Those are pretty good cops,” said Jerry Paolillo, also of East Haven. 

Not according to federal prosecutors who found in 2012 systemic civil rights violations throughout the East Haven police force, mostly of the town’s Latino residents.  The finding also resulted in federal oversight of the department under a consent decree.

As part of a sweeping misconduct investigation, the four officers were indicted, and accused of targeting Latinos for racial profiling, illegal searches and excessive force.  John Miller and David Cari eventually pleaded guilty for their roles.  Dennis Spaulding and Jason Zullo were convicted at trial.  

They were all sentenced to various stints in federal prison but a pardon could wipe their records clean and free Spaulding, the last of the four still locked up.  It’s not a far-fetched idea given the president’s recent appetite to use the pardon power.  Yet, some in East Haven’s Latino are outraged by the idea.  

“I think it’s not a good idea and I am scared that the president’s probably going to say yes,” Ray Morales said.  The local barber told News 8’s Mario Boone the rogue cops ruled by fear and brutality.

“The Latin-American community, we were very scared actually,” he explained.  Morales thinks a pardon is a slap in the face to victims.

“It’s pretty embarrassing for the town of East Haven.  Whoever thought of that should be ashamed of themselves,” Morales concluded.

East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo did not respond to a message for comment.  A spokesman for the East Haven Police Dept. declined to comment.  

Frank Riccio II released this statement on behalf of his client, Dennis Spaulding: “As his trial attorney, I fully support his efforts to obtain a pardon from President Trump.  I will always disagree with the jury verdict, and I agree that a full pardon will right a wrong.”

Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut NAACP had this to say: “This is a slap in the face to the Black and Latino communities that have been harassed and racially profiled in East Haven for many years…”  

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