Two state troopers are accused of kidnapping and assaulting a man for more than an hour after the victim reportedly touched a woman's butt last week.
State police said off-duty troopers Xavier Cruz, from Troop K in Colchester, and Rupert Laird, of Troop C in Tolland, were involved in a "criminal investigation" on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Police told Eyewitness News a group of people were hanging out at a Hartford bar and went to Cruz's Wethersfield home.
When everyone left, the victim said he couldn't get into his house, so he asked Cruz to see if he could stay the night.
"When that gentleman got there, he was walked into the house by another state trooper, who was the boyfriend of the girl he had been flirting with," Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran said.
Court documents mention a woman told police the victim touched her inappropriately, pinching her butt and brushing up against her.
"Someone very close to him was sexually assaulted, he responded to that out of a desire to protect according to the allegations," Morgan Rueckert, who is Laird's attorney said.
According to court documents, that's when Laird said "you touched my girl, you know you're gonna pay for this.” According to court documents, Laird said “we're gonna settle this is old school way."
The victim said he was brought into the basement of the home and that's where he told police that he was told to take his eyeglasses and his clothes off.
The victim claimed he was head butted, then kicked and punched more than 20 times before he was beaten with a baton more than 15 times. The victim told authorities he was also asked to kneel on a small metal kitchen grater.
"I was incredulous. I didn't believe that two professional Connecticut state troopers would do anything of this nature," Cetran said. "This is devastating to all of us, all law enforcement because it's so egregious. It's terrible."
Wethersfield police said that same man showed up to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and reported that he was assaulted. Wethersfield police said a registered nurse called police, as is procedure, and that's when investigators began looking into the case.
"I saw pictures of the injuries and it looks pretty severe," Cetran said. "This is the worst case scenario you can possibly have for all police officers. For two police officers to go so far off the reservation, this is bad for everybody."
When asked if the troopers abused their powers, Cetran said yes.
"It's also an abuse that's not excused and taken severely. They've been charged with some pretty heavy charges," Cetran said.
Police said 30-year-old Cruz, of Manchester, and 30-year-old Laird, of Wethersfield, turned themselves in to the Wethersfield Police Department on Tuesday and are facing the following charges:
Laird and Cruz, who have been state troopers for five years, faced a judge in New Britain on Tuesday afternoon. Both men posted their bonds on Tuesday afternoon and were currently on house arrest. Laird did not speak with reporters outside of court.
Cruz needed to turn in his passport. Since Laird posted his bond, he was ordered to have no contact with victim and with Cruz. Laird must also turn in his passport and have no guns.
Laird, who is a University of Connecticut graduate, has no convictions, no arrest and no criminal history, according to his lawyer. Letters were written from family and friends in support of Laird. His lawyer added that he's an asset to the community being a trooper for past five years and not a danger to anyone.
The incident remains under investigation by the Wethersfield Police Department. Last week, the troopers were reassigned to non-police duties.
"The Connecticut State Police is committed to serving all of Connecticut’s residents while embodying our core values of professionalism, respect, and integrity. We hold accountable all members of the agency, emphasizing their obligation to uphold these values and our standard of conduct, whether on-duty or off-duty. Immediately upon learning of the egregious conduct of two off-duty state troopers, Tpr. Rupert Laird, Troop C-Tolland, and Tpr. Xavier Cruz, Troop K-Colchester, the Connecticut State Police suspended their police powers, confiscated their weapons, badges and patrol vehicles, and opened its own administrative inquiry. Both troopers are suspended pending the outcome of the proceedings," Connecticut State Police said in a statement on Tuesday.
A statement was also released by the Connecticut State Police Union, saying "the members of the Connecticut State Police Union strive to uphold the high standards of professionalism and public service that each of our members swore to uphold when they became Connecticut State Troopers. While we are disappointed to learn that two State Troopers have been the subject of a criminal investigation, all of the facts and circumstances involving the alleged incident have yet to be reported and that the public should not rush to judgment based on headlines alone. Regardless of the outcome of the cases against these two State Troopers, it is important to remember that State Troopers risk their lives to protect the public and that for every report like this, there are hundreds of examples of heroism and public service by the members of our Union."
Laird and Cruz are both due back in court on March 29.
To read the full court documents, click here.
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