No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Meriden Police: Report

The police department is considering banning hiring relatives of officers.

An independent investigation into alleged misconduct at the Meriden Police Department found no evidence against the department but some policy changes will be made.

Among the possible changes the department is considering is a ban on hiring relatives of police officers.

The investigation was launched more than a year ago, after two Meriden officers complained that Officer Evan Cossette, the son of the police chief, received preferential treatment after an alleged complaint of police brutality against him.  The officers complained that Cossette was not adequately punished after the incident.

Cossette was seen on surveillance video pushing Pedro Temich, a handcuffed inmate, inside a holding cell.  He is also accused of two other incidents of police brutality, Including against Joey Bryans.

The city spent $38,000 on the 13-month investigation conducted by attorney Thomas Daily and City Manager Lawrence Kendzior released the results of the report at 11 a.m. on Friday and another bill for $22,000 is pending.

All the officers interviewed believed the department was fair and even-handed, even when they didn’t agree with the punishment, officials said.

City officials said they will ask the police union to agree that relatives of officers will not be hired by the department. 

Evan Cossette will return to regular duty on Sunday after the investigation found no evidence that he used excessive force or that there was any favoritism.

City officials said there is more to the story  about the holding cell incident and said the person detained was combative. 

Kendzior said Temich was four times the legal limit and was involved in a hit-and-run crash.

“Mr. Temich damaged the cruiser that took him to the station, damaged the ambulance that took him to the hospital.  He was highly intoxicated and extremely combative,” Kendzior said.

“As you view the video, what I would like people to take note of is that it shows Mr. Temich facing Officer Cossette as he’s walking backwards into the holding cell.  That’s now how a prisoner goes into a holding cell.  Mr. Temich, if he was following procedure and follow directions and following orders, which he did not do at any point during that entire day, would have been walking into the cell with his back to Officer Cossette,” Kendzior said. “We can’t see on the video what happened in the very instant before that video begins.”

“I know that our entire department is relieved that this process has come to an end, and the results of the independent investigation substantiated what many of already know,” Chief Joseph Cossette said. “As Chief, and with the facts before us, it is time to move on.  We look forward to continue doing what we do best, to protect and serve the citizens of Meriden, and to enhance the quality of life for all of our citizens.“

Sally Roberts, the attorney for two people who complained about excessive force, issued a statement on Friday afternoon.

"My clients have confidence in the jury system in this country where they can present the evidence in a court of law, rather than to a so-called 'independent' investigator who was hired by a defendant, the City of Meriden, which is paying his bill," Roberts said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is conducting a federal investigation of the police department.

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