A former New Haven police officer is facing criminal charges after a use of force investigation, the Office of the Chief State's Attorney confirmed Tuesday.
Former Officer Jason Santiago was fired in June after he was accused of using excessive force while responding to a call last December. He was arrested by the Chief State's Attorney on a warrant charging him with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.
"The DCJ found that Mr. Santiago's actions merit his arrest and prosecution," Chief STate's Attorney Richard Colagelo Jr. wrote. This officer's actions, once the suspect was in custody, exceeded his authority and were in violation of his training and Connecticut law."
In police body-worn camera video of the December incident, Santiago can be seen taking a man into custody after a struggle. Santiago is seen kicking a man in the groin while the man is on the ground in handcuffs, and then stands him up.
In the video, officers are heard saying the man spit in the direction of Santiago. Santiago is then seen punching him in the face.
The New Haven Board of Police Commissioners voted to terminate Santiago. At the time, an attorney for the police union argued Santiago made a mistake and should be disciplined, not fired.
At the meeting that determined his termination, Santiago spoke about his eight years with the department, highlighted his accomplishments and expressed regret for what he calls a split-second decision.
The New Haven Police Union had planned to appeal the decision.
Santiago was released on a promise to appear and is due in court on September 9.
Another officer was found to have violated department rules during the same call and was placed on leave.
New Haven police officials said the other second officer had no opportunity to stop Santiago and was not complicit, but he violated three department policies. Those three policies did not involve use of force, according to an internal affairs report on the investigation.
The second officer was suspended for 15 days, which is the maximum amount the chief was allowed to institute.
Reyes said he would have like to have seen officers deescalate the situation. He added that there is a lot to learn from the video, and the department will.