A Hartford police officer has been placed on administrative leave and an internal investigation is underway after he allegedly was recorded telling people he was “trigger happy” and warned them not to run or fight, according to police.
Officials from the Hartford Police Department said in a statement that they learned Friday morning that an officer “was evidently recorded” telling a group of people during a field interview that they would be checked for drugs and weapons and that if they tried to flee or fight, he was “a little trigger happy, I’m not going to lie.”
The video goes on the show the officer say, "I get paid a ton of money in overtime if I have to shoot somebody. Don't do anything stupid, alright?”
Hartford's police chief identified the officer as Sgt. Steve Barone.
Officials from the police department said that the statements, regardless of the context or the intent, are “unacceptable and represent a fundamental disregard for the conduct” the department expects.
“We look at it from the perspective of the person on the other end of the field interview, and to hear those words isn’t just scary, it projects an image of law enforcement officers who take use of force lightly. As I hope you know, we do not take any use of force lightly as a Department,” the statement from police said.
It is not the first time Barone has been placed on leave by the department. He was one of several officers suspended for his conduct following a June 2016 pursuit that ended in West Hartford. Barone was cited for "intentional and willful failure to comply with any lawful orders, procedures, directives or regulations" in connection with an excessive force case. The encounter was recorded on a police dashcam.
Barone told NBC Connecticut by text that he'll comment when there is a resolution to the incident.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Council President Glendowlyn L.H. Thames released the joint statement Friday afternoon about the video and said it is “both disappointing and damaging.”
“The officer’s behavior in this video is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of our Police Department and our city,” Bronin and Thames said in a statement.
“Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to treat the use of force and threats of force seriously at all times. The men and women of our Department work every day to build a community relationship based on transparency, accountability, trust and respect, and actions like this undermine that work and that commitment,” the statement says. “Our Department has placed the officer on administrative leave effective immediately, and internal affairs has begun an investigation. We appreciate the seriousness and transparency of the Department’s response to this incident."