The Connecticut State Police are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union after video surfaced of police officers conspiring to fabricate charges against an innocent man. The allegations which are indefensible in the face of the evidence raise questions about the role of police in America, and how such behavior got to be so common.
Michael Picard is a privacy advocate and an open-carry enthusiast. He was standing on street median warning oncoming drivers about a police checkpoint which he believed to be illegal. Then, according to Picard’s lawyer, ACLU of Connecticut Legal Director Dan Barrett, said “He was standing there for an hour, hour and a half without any problems. Then, the state police officers who were working the checkpoint come over to Michael, and the first thing they do is slap the camera out of his hand so it hits the ground. He thinks it’s broken. It was really brazen. There’s another video showing that the first thing the state trooper does is walk up and with his open hand slap the camera down to the ground. He doesn’t even say anything like “put that down,” or “please lower your camera.” He just slaps it to the ground. Then he interacts with Michael as if nothing happened, as if, “I’m just allowed to do that, and I don’t even have to tell you why I just broke your camera.” It’s an amazing level of hostility.”
Barret elaborates how the officers conspired to frame Picard:
So we get the three troopers at the cruiser talking about what to do. Michael’s permit comes back as valid, they say “oh crap,” and one of the troopers says “we gotta punch a number on this guy,” which means open an investigation in the police database. And he says “we really gotta cover our asses.” And then they have a very long discussion about what to charge Michael with—none of which appear to have any basis in fact. This plays out over eight minutes. They talk about “we could do this, we could do this, we could do this….”
After the incident Picard filed a complaint with Internal Affairs, who also behaved woefully inappropriately:
Michael filed a complaint with the state police. They claimed they couldn’t do their internal investigation without interviewing Michael. They kept calling Michael directly—and they did that even though there were criminal charges pending and Michael had a criminal defense lawyer. His lawyer kept calling them and saying “don’t you ever call my client again, you have to talk to me.” But they continued to try and get Michael to come in and be interviewed without his lawyer, claiming that they couldn’t do the investigation unless Michael gave a statement. It was unbelievable—this is an interaction that was recorded from start to finish on high-quality digital video. A year later there has been zero movement on the internal affairs investigation as far as anyone knows, which just shows that police and prosecutors in Connecticut should not be in charge of policing themselves.
The misconduct by police highlights just how lowly certain members of law enforcement behave, and why wouldn’t they? Police officers often investigate themselves, and surprisingly find they have committed no wrong doing. The Internal Affairs department sought to have Picard speak to them without a lawyer. Why? So Picard could not avail himself of all of his rights? The sad reality of this situation is when members of law enforcement decide to take such actions, they give all of the honest members of law enforcement a black eye.
Watch the disgusting display below: