(Correction: According to Mayor April Capone, the grand jury did not convene Tuesday and has suspended proceedings until mid-March.)
East Haven police who were served subpoenas by the FBI last December are scheduled to appear before a grand jury in Bridgeport federal court Tuesday. Possibly not all of them, however. Word from the police department is that some officers' testimonies have been suspended for now.
Acting Police Chief Gaetano Nappi said some subpoenaed cops are being held off and will reconvene "sometime next month." He said he didn't know why.
According to court documents, Officer Dennis Spaulding is the main target of the federal probe. Spaulding arrested New Haven priest Father James Manship on Feb. 19. 2009, at My Country Store on East Haven's Main Street, while Manship was responding to a police raid there. The questionable arrest is a piece of the investigation.
Though the number of officers served subpoenas has not been publicly disclosed, it is widely circulated that it's 24. The U.S. Department of Justice has been conducting a civil investigation of the department since 2009, based on allegations from Latino residents in town of racial profiling and other mistreatment by police. Late last year, it was made public that the feds were also conducting a criminal probe of the department. Police Chief Leonard Gallo was put on paid administrative leave last April pending the outcome of the civil investigation. Reportedly, he was not one of the 24 to be subpoenaed.
"It's an uncomfortable situation for everyone who works and lives in town and especially for the police department," said Mayor April Capone. "We'll all be happy when it's behind us."
A federal civil lawsuit against 1o cops, the East Haven Police Department and the town alleging civil rights violations and racial profiling was filed last October by Manship and 19 Latino residents.
The defendants are Gallo and police officers Spaulding, David Cari, Jason Zullo, Vincent Ferrara, David Olson, Frank Montagna, Edward Lennon, Michael Sorbo and Cheryl Conyers.
Plaintiffs include East Haven residents Marcia Chacon and Wilfrido Matute, co-owners of My Country Store, Segundo Aguayza, Jose Luis Albarracin, Welington Salinas, John Espinosa, Guido Xavier Criollo, Edgar Torres and Yadanny Garcia and Father Manship.