A Hartford police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he allegedly was recorded telling people he was “trigger happy” and warned them not to run or fight, according to police. While an internal investigation is underway, the man who recorded that video spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut to tell his version of the story.
"I'm honestly just glad I didn't record somebody there getting shot," said Rashawn Johnson.
Johnson said on Thursday night he was hanging out at a friend's house on Heath Street, having drinks on the front porch, when police pulled up asking what they were doing. Johnson said he started recording.
In the recording, you can hear a person identified by the Hartford Police Department as Sgt. Steve Barone say, "At this point, you’re all being stopped on the (inaudible) of trespassing. We’re going to get everyone’s information and we’re going to go through and make sure nobody’s got drugs or guns on ‘em. And we’re gonna get everybody’s name. If anybody that wants to fight or run, I’m a little trigger happy guys, not gonna lie and I get paid a ton of money in overtime if I have to shoot somebody. Don’t do anything stupid, alright?"
"We weren't doing nothing wrong," Johnson said. "We were all just in shock to hear him say that and glad there were other officers there that were more professional about their job."
Hartford police said Barone has been placed on administrative leave and an internal investigation is underway.
"It was kind of sick you know to have to sit there and listen to a cop say that," said Johnson.
"We are still investigating the circumstances of the field interview but regardless of the context or the intent those statements are entirely unacceptable and represent a fundamental disregard for the conduct we expect and the standards we hold our officers to. As a department we do not take use of force lightly especially the use of our firearms," said Assistant Chief Rafael Medina.
"I'm glad I did pull my phone out," said Johnson. "I'm sure this is something that happens all over the country where cops say something like this every day and it doesn't get recorded."
Johnson said he was worried that Barone would pull out a gun and shoot.
"I feel like he is someone who doesn't mind abusing his authority," said Johnson.
Johnson also said that he doesn't think that anyone would believe him if he didn't have the video as proof.
"For me to not have video evidence, it's my word against theirs. It's not going to mean anything," said Johnson.
Johnson said police cited him for third-degree trespassing.
Barone told NBC Connecticut he'll comment when there's a resolution to the incident.