East Haven Reaches $450K Settlement in Civil Rights Suit

The town of East Haven and attorneys for Latino residents who filed a civil rights lawsuit against the police department have reached an agreement in which the plaintiffs will receive $450,000.

“Subject to the approval of the presiding Federal Court judge and the Board of Police Commissioners, I am pleased to announce that the parties to that lawsuit have come to a settlement that will put an end to that difficult and emotional litigation,”  a statement from East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. said.

Yale University professor Michael Wishnie said East Haven agreed to adopt some of the strictest constraints on immigration enforcement of any city or town in the country. He said it has agreed to limit questioning about immigration status and won't enforce immigration detainers.

The 2010 lawsuit was filed on behalf of a priest and Latino residents who alleged racial profiling and repeated abuses by police officers, including false arrests, illegal searches and obstruction of justice. Settlement discussions began in the fall after four officers were convicted of criminal charges.

The settlement also calls for the city to revise the East Haven Police Department’s policy relating to the “Secure Communities Program,” according to town officials.  

The controversial “Secure Communities
” began statewide in 2012 and called on state and local law enforcement agencies to automatically share fingerprints with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so Immigration and Customs Enforcement can check information against DHS immigration databases.

“I wish to emphasize that this settlement agreement is in no way an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the Town or the East Haven Police Department.  Rather, this settlement is another important step forward in the healing process for our community and for our police family,” Maturo said in a statement. “This agreement ends the threat of protracted litigation, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and avoiding the potential risk of a large, adverse monetary judgment. Perhaps most importantly, this agreement will provide necessary closure to a difficult and painful chapter in our Town’s history.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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