Hartford police are investigating a video that surfaced of a police officer reportedly saying he was “a little trigger happy.”
The video surfaced on Facebook overnight.
During a field interview, Hartford officer Sgt. Stephen Barone was recorded telling a group that they would be checked for drugs and weapons, and if they tried to run away, he said was “a little trigger happy, I’m not going to lie.”
The officer went on to say “he didn’t want to have to shoot somebody if they did flee or fight, so they shouldn’t ‘do anything stupid’.”
Barone was called to Heath Street on Thursday night to investigate a trespassing complaint. When he arrived, four people were confronted and at least one of them was a minority.
Hartford police said Barone was placed on administrative leave while an investigation continues.
"Those statements are entirely unacceptable and represent a fundamental disregard for the conduct we expect and the standards we hold ourselves to," said Medina.
Barone continued the interview process saying "I get paid a ton of money in overtime, if I have to shoot anybody, don't do anything stupid."
Barone was promoted last year.
Five years ago, an officer shot and killed a man on Heath Street after the suspect lunged at him with a box cutter. An investigation ruled the shooting was justified, but when it comes to Barone, he's been caught up in controversial cases before.
Barone was suspended for a role in an incident where an officer was caught on camera stomping a handcuffed suspect.
Barone didn't do the stomping, but he was suspended for failing to comply with procedures.
""We don't hold history against our officers. He was punished, he served his time and we don't hang that over anyone's head," Medina said.
Police did not say force was used in Thursday's incident, but the department says officers shouldn't be casually tossing those comments around.
Hartford Police haven't said if the call on Heath Street ended in an arrest, but do say Barone's behavior was unacceptable.
"What I saw in the video does not reflect the countless positive interactions our officers have in the community every day. It's not how we train our officer to interact in the public,' said Medina.
The community agrees. Cecilia Goncalves runs Elite Salon on Heath Street and the video made her jaw drop.
"It's not right, not human. 'Trigger-happy? That's pretty unusual," Goncalves said.
“Regardless of the context or the intent, those statements are entirely unacceptable and represent a fundamental disregard for the conduct we expect and the standards we hold ourselves to. We look at it from the perspective of the person on the other end of the field interview, and to hear those words isn’t just scary, it projects an image of law enforcement officers who take use of force lightly. As I hope you know, we do not take any use of force lightly as a Department,” Hartford’s Assistant Police Chief Rafael Medina said.
His statement goes on to say "The Hartford Police Department has worked closely with many of you to build a stronger relationship with the community based on respect and trust. The ties we have built are our most valuable asset in serving the community, and incidents like this do not represent the department we strive to be, the relationship of trust we’ve worked to build, or the work we do in our community on a daily basis. We are committed to true community policing and true community partnership, and in this case that means being fully transparent and direct about this incident."
Channel 3 will have more on this story starting at 5 p.m.
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