John Miller pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of depriving a citizen of his civil rights by using excessive force. Miller is one of the four East Haven officers under federal investigation stemming from a 2010 incident where he punched a man who was already handcuffed.
An East Haven police officer charged with violating the civil rights of Latinos pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday.
Sgt. John Miller is one of four officers who was charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights and obstruction for allegedly executing unreasonable searches and seizures, using unreasonable force and concealing their actions.
Miller pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of depriving an individual of his civil rights by using excessive force. In court, Miller admitted that in January 2010 he struck a handcuffed person while the victim was in the custody of two other East Haven police officers, according to federal prosecutors.
"I jabbed him in the chest area. I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize. My emotions got the best of me," Miller said in court Friday.
Father James Manship of the St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven exposed the problem after he was arrested while videotaping the abuse. Those charges were later dropped.
"This is an issue of not just a few officers behaving badly," said Manship. "We're looking forward to the case continuing to move on and hopefully one day we'll have a police department in East Haven that everybody can feel safe with."
When Miller is sentenced in February, prosecutors will recommend that he get just three years of probation, rather than spending time in prison, and pay a $60,000 fine.
"This case reminds us that no one is above the law," said David Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. "This police officer abused his authority and violated the civil rights of a person he is sworn to protect. Such conduct will never be tolerated.
As part of the plea agreement, Miller has agreed to fully cooperate with the government regarding the incident, including testifying against other officers before grand juries and at trial if necessary.
Miller and three other officers were arrested on Jan. 24 on allegations of harassment against Latinos including beatings and false arrests. The other three officers all pleaded not guilty.
Miller remains on administrative leave from the East Haven Police Department.
Former Police Chief Leonard Gallo retired amid calls for his firing.