by Jennifer Swift
Aug 20, 2013
08:09 AMConnecticut Politics
Cool Justice Opinion: Meriden Cop Gets $5,000 to Resign, Alleged Rape Victim Insulted
Connecticut’s newest federal judge, Michael Shea, got off to a bad start.
Shea ran smack into a huge pile of “deliberate indifference” and “inadequate supervision” and blew it off.
In a decision finalized earlier this month, Shea let the city of Meriden and its police chief off the hook on a $1.5 million judgment against a cop who allegedly raped a minor at least twice in 2007 and never was arrested. Indeed, some of Shea’s statements in his ruling echo the outrageous and inadmissible claims by the city about the plaintiff’s sexual history and reputation, suggesting that she brought the rape upon herself.
The Meriden Police Department has established itself as among the more brutal and corrupt in Connecticut. Beatings, taser death and cover-ups are part of the regular menu. Prosecutors and judges can’t be accused of doing anything effective about it.
In one notable case, the department suppressed a video for three years showing that an officer pistol whipped and beat a suspect after falsely reporting a collision and shots fired. Ultimately, this officer received the harsh punishment of a suspended sentence.
In another case, a lawyer for an abused prisoner pressed New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington to pursue perjury charges against Evan Cossette, son of Meriden Police Chief Jeffry Cossette. That plea went nowhere. Dearington even defended the actions of the younger Cossette, who pushed a handcuffed prisoner backwards into a holding cell, causing him to strike his head against a concrete bench. Cossette moved the man numerous times trying to prop him up, then left the cell. The man’s skull was fractured.
As Cossette returned to duty, Meriden Police issued a formal report stating there was no nepotism in the department. Two other officers who raised the issue faced disciplinary action.
Evan Cossette was not brought to justice by local police or state prosecutors. Rather, the feds had to step in. Cossette was convicted in June of violating the prisoner’s civil rights and obstructing justice. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison at sentencing next week.
The rape case is so bizarre and heinous as to be mind-boggling even for the seasoned observer of police and prosecutorial malfeasance. Meriden Police learn early and often that officers are above the law. That training is reinforced by prosecutors and judges.
The city did not deny the rape allegations or that the plaintiff was 15 years old and unable to give legal consent. However, in court documents, the city claimed the girl “seemed very proud of having sex” with the officer and that she “dressed like a prostitute.”