Protesters rally to support New Haven Assistant Police Chief

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of protesters showed up near New Haven City Hall Wednesday, showing support for embattled Assistant Police Chief Luiz Casanova.

This comes after Tuesday’s call by several New Haven clergy members to remove Casanova’s name from the running to become the next permanent chief of police in the Elm City.Related Content: “Mope” comment could hurt Casanova chances for chief job

“When a man’s reputation is on the line this is when you do have to come out,” said Michael Jefferson, a local attorney, in support of Casanova. “When (a man’s reputation is on the line) you do have to stand-up.”

“This is a political assassination,” said State Rep. Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven). “This is a political persecution against an individual that we all know is vying for chief of police.”Related Content: New Haven assistant police chief suspended after altercation with officer

Casanova is a 20-year veteran of New Haven Police, who hopes to be named to the vacant chief’s position. His recent, one-day suspension for allegedly calling a patrol officer a “mope,” could jeopardize his chance.

“Yes, he used poor choice of words. But should he be crucified for choice of words he used?” Candelaria said.

Protesters called into question the investigation that led to the suspension. They said more transparency was needed as to who conducted the investigation, and requested a new, independent one.Related Content: New Haven Police Assistant Chief being investigated for ‘verbal interaction’ with officer

“Folks are entitled to support who they want for police chief. But you are not entitled to ruin a man’s reputation,” Jefferson said.

Speakers took turns praising Casanova for his community service and bridge-building with neighborhoods in the city, especially with Spanish-speaking immigrants.

“He’s always been one of the most selfless and giving people, from family to community,” said Joseph Baez, Casanova’s nephew. “He’s always given extra time and done anything he can to benefit the city of New Haven.”

Mayor Toni Harp has said that the search for the next police chief will continue as normal, without regard for the current controversy with Casanova.

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