Racial profiling claims, cell phone video lead to investigation of at least 6 Derby police officers

New Haven

As many as six Derby police officers are under internal investigation after grainy cell phone video prompted claims of racial profiling and inappropriate comments by the officers. The video appears to show the officers telling a group of mostly black teens that they cannot congregate on a public sidewalk.

“Get going, get going, get going,” an unidentified officer can be heard telling the teens.

Jessica Matthews told News 8’s Mario Boone her 16-year-old son, who is white, was part of the group of teens in downtown Derby on July 3 after a fireworks show when they were stopped by police.

“I think this is a serious situation that needs to be addressed,” said Matthews. “I feel like they were, the cop was antagonizing the kids, trying to get a reaction that could’ve possibly led to an arrest of one of the kids.”  

At one point in the video, you see an officer snatch the phone out of Matthew’s son’s hand. She said the officer also stopped the recording. Additionally the officers can be heard repeatedly refusing to identify themselves.

“What’s your badge number?” asked one of the teens in the video. “I don’t have to tell you,” the officer responded.

When the teens questioned the officers about alleged inappropriate language toward them, one officer was heard saying, “I can say whatever I want.”

Chief Jerry Narowski issued a statement, saying, in part, “Officers are public servants and their names are public record, so they should identify themselves when asked.” He continued, “Our department will conduct a full internal affairs investigation, including interviews with all of the officers, material witnesses, and evaluation of whatever physical evidence we have.”

The incident now has the attention of the Ansonia Valley Branch of the NAACP.

“It seems like they were escalating the situation,” said President Greg Johnson. “This conversation is going to go forward with the leaders of this city because that was uncalled for and it needs to be addressed.”

Johnson issued a call for anyone in Derby who feels they have been racially profiled to reach out to the NAACP.

Matthews said she wants to see the matter fully investigated and not swept under the rug.

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