A Bridgeport police officer is facing federal charges after allegedly using excessive force while making an arrest in 2011 and the police department has suspended him without pay.
Bridgeport police officer Clive Higgins, 48, who has been with the department since 2002, appeared in court Friday. He is accused of police brutality in a case that was caught on camera.
Immediately following Higgins' arrest, the Bridgeport Police Department placed him on unpaid suspension, according to police spokesman Bill Kaempffer.
"We expect a lot from our officers and the overwhelming majority of our officers do their job extraordinarily well," said Bridgeport Payor Bill Finch and Chief Joseph Gaudett, in a statement Friday. "But when they violate the public trust, they need to be held accountable."
On May 20, 2011, two other Bridgeport police officers were chasing a man suspected of having a gun when Higgins heard radio transmissions asking for backup, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Higgins responded to the scene as the chase neared Beardsley Park. When he arrived, the person involved – later identified as Orlando Lopez – had left his van and was running from police, with two officers in pursuit.
One officers shot Lopez with a stun gun, knocking him down, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As Lopez was lying on the ground, Higgins approached the suspect and kicked him in the head and neck area, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Lopez, of Bridgeport, filed a lawsuit against Higgins and two other officers, claiming police brutality, in January 2013. The suit was filed days after a video of the arrest surfaced on YouTube.
Higgins is charged with violating an individual's civil rights by using unreasonable force during an arrest. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.