Man Purportedly Shown Being Struck by Hartford Officers in Video Files Lawsuit

The man purportedly shown being beaten by Hartford police officers in 2015 has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the police department, the police chief and city.

Samual Bryant, 36, said he had gone out to buy a wine cooler when he was stopped by Brian Salkeld, Robert Fogg and another unnamed Hartford police officer approached him on June 28, 2015, the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit said Bryant was leaving a convenience store on Mather Street with a wine cooler in a store bag that had not been open around 6:30 p.m.

Fogg and Salkeld approached Bryant and confiscated his wine cooler without reasonable grounds, the lawsuit alleges. Police at the time of the incident said they saw Bryant drinking the wine cooler and approached him. 

Bryant handed the officers a pocket knife he had in his left pocket and the two police officers proceed to pat the man down while leaning him against a cruiser, the lawsuit said.

However, after the incident in 2015, Hartford police said officers noticed had a pocket knife on Bryant as they questioned him and they thought he may have had a gun and attempted to pat him down and put him in handcuffs, according to police.

When Bryant stumbled while in handcuffs, the lawsuit said, the officers "pounced on him and proceeded to punch, grab and jerk his arms and slam him while he was defenseless until he was eventually able to break away from their clutches in order to defend himself.

In 2015, police said the man then began to struggle with officers and took off. During the fight, Bryant struck an officer in the face and broke his nose, police said.

Both police and the lawsuit said officers fired a stun gun at Bryant several times while pursuing him.

The lawsuit said when the police officers caught up with Bryant, they threw him forcefully to the ground and kicked him in the head. The officers, according to the lawsuit, kicked, punched and hit Bryant while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. They also allegedly struck him with a hard object, such as the butt of a gun or a baton, causing him to lose consciousness, the lawsuit said. 

"They again used force on the Plaintiff, unnecessarily, unreasonably and with deliberate indifference to his civil rights," the lawsuit said.

Bryant sustained cuts, bruises, abrasions and scars to his back, neck, wrist and knees. His wrist and knee were sprained and strained and he had head hematomas and trauma, the lawsuit said. 

Police said in 2015 that Bryant was transported to St. Francis Hospital, where he received two staples to his head. He was later released into police custody.

One of the officers was also taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of a broken nose and bruises.

Hartford police also said Bryant is a convicted felon who was out on parole at the time of the incident. Police said they later found seven plastic bags of cocaine in Bryant’s jacket and hundreds of dollars in cash.

"He was screaming, 'Stop, stop, stop! I’m already on the floor. Stop!' The officer did not listen," Hartford resident, Tatiana Serrano, said in 2015.

The recording that purportedly shows Bryant being struck by officers garnered more than 130,000 views within 24 hours after it was posted on Facebook and YouTube.

Police said the video captures the end of an interaction

"I’m not here to condemn the officers’ actions nor am I here to justify the actions at this point," Hartford Police Chief James Rovella said in June 2015. "There’s a lot to consider. It’s not in a vacuum. That video should not be considered in a vacuum."

Bryant faced charges that included public drinking, interfering with police, assault on police, second-degree assault and possession of narcotics following the incident in 2015.

Bryant is demanding monetary damages, including compensatory and actual damages; actual, dignitary and punitive damages; a court order to be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred maintaining this action pursuant and any other relief the court deems proper. 

The City of Hartford provided the following statement on Monday:

"The City of Hartford recently received a complaint regarding alleged misconduct by the Hartford Police Department in 2015. The City’s Corporation Counsel will work with the Police Department to respond appropriately. We don’t have any further comment at this time."

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