Hartford Firefighters Suspended in Public Confrontation Speak Out - NBC Connecticut

Hartford Firefighters Suspended in Public Confrontation Speak Out

(Published Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015)

Two officers in the Hartford Fire Department received suspension Monday from the fire chief for a violent confrontation that played out in public at a fire scene this over the summer.

Hartford Fire Capt.Thomas Dalton learned Monday that the department has suspended him without pay for 89 days while the man he said attacked him, Hartford Fire Lt. Michael Patterson, received a 14-day suspension.

In August, Dalton described the scene as "by far the worst personal encounter” he's had 20 years on the job. But in an exclusive interview with the Troubleshooters Monday, Patterson said Dalton's account of what happened in August is a lie.

"Captain Dalton began harassing me 18 years ago," said the 18-year veteran of the Hartford Fire Department.

Patterson laid out what he said is a pattern of harassment that culminated in the allegations against him from this past summer.

An internal fire department memo to Chief Carlos Huertas obtained by the Troubleshooters details Capt. Dalton's account of an Aug. 14 confrontation between Dalton and Patterson.

Dalton describes being the commanding officer remaining on the scene of a fire in the North end when he told Patterson repeatedly that he was not released from duty.

Dalton reports that Patterson advanced toward him aggressively and shouted, "Dalton... You'll get what's coming to you. I'll make sure of it. I'm going to (epithet) you up".

In the memo, Dalton says Patterson threw several punches, even landing a blow in the center of his chest.

That’s something Patterson refutes. He told the Troubleshooters there wasn't a physical confrontation that day and that he didn't punch Dalton.

About two weeks after the confrontation, Patterson turned himself in on a "breach of peace" charge relating to the Aug. 14 confrontation. That charge is still pending, Patterson says he's looking forward to having his day in court.

"I want a trial because everyone is subpoenaed and give their side of the story under oath on the stand," Patterson said.

The Troubleshooters reached out the Hartford Fire Department for comment on the suspensions and Acting Assistant Chief Scott Brady responded.

”As far as we're concerned, the situation is closed. We expect all parties involved will move forward and when they return to work, they will meet the high standards of the department," Brady said.

Dalton told the Troubleshooters he still stands by that memo he wrote to the Chief Huertas “100 percent."

The suspensions officially took effect on Oct. 30. Dalton and Patterson both say they plan to file grievances over their suspensions, but that process is likely to take several months.

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