East Haven Police Officer Sentenced To Prison For Obstructing Justice To Cover Up Civil Rights Violations
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that former East Haven Police officer JASON ZULLO, 35, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release. ZULLO also was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.
According to court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from a criminal investigation into members of the East Haven Police Department use of excessive force during arrests, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the filing of false police reports. As a result of the investigation, ZULLO, Sergeant John Miller and Officers Dennis Spaulding and David Cari were charged with various civil rights offenses.
On October 23, 2012, ZULLO pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice, and admitted that on October 18, 2008, he struck a motorcycle with his police car at least three times during a chase, ultimately causing the motorcycle to crash and throwing the male driver and female passenger to the ground. Both victims suffered injuries. Following the incident, in order to obstruct any potential investigation of his use of excessive force, ZULLO prepared and filed a false police report that failed to mention that he struck the motorcycle during the chase.
“This defendant attempted to cover up his misconduct and obstruct a civil rights investigation by filing a false police report,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “His report failed to disclose that he had injured two civilians when he used his patrol car to repeatedly strike the motorcycle they were riding. The evidence obtained during this long-term investigation also revealed other examples of this officer’s abuse of his police powers. This prosecution and the resulting significant prison term demonstrate that criminal conduct by law enforcement officers will not be tolerated.”
“Maintaining the public’s trust in elected officials and particularly law enforcement is of the utmost importance,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos. “It is our hope that today’s developments bring us closer to renewing confidence and respect for those, particularly in East Haven, who enforce the law.”
On September 21, 2012, Miller pleaded guilty to one count of violating an individual's civil rights by using unreasonable and excessive force during the course of an arrest. On October 21, 2013, after a month-long trial, Spaulding and Cari were found guilty of conspiracy and various other charges related to their violating the civil rights of members of the East Haven community.
Miller, Cari and Spaulding await sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the Civil Rights Squad of the FBI’s New York Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna R. Patel and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.
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