Civil Rights
4:57 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

East Haven Police Officer Files to Dismiss Charges

The intense publicity surrounding the recent indictment of the East Haven Police Department has prompted a police officer to ask that charges against him be dismissed.

Late last month, the federal government arrested four East Haven Police officers for engaging in systematic discrimination of Latino residents in the city. All of them have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The arrests came in the aftermath of a much-publicized investigation by the Justice Department of the East Haven Police department beginning back in 2009.

One of those officers, Jason Zullo, is now arguing that the publicity will make it impossible for him to get a fair trial. Zullo’s lawyer Norman Pattis filed a motion to dismiss the charges against his client yesterday. In the motion, Pattis harshly criticizes the federal government for the way it announced the results of its investigation into racial profiling in East Haven, and the way it conducted the arrests of the four officers. Pattis argued that those proceedings made sure to “forever associate the name East Haven with dark and sinister connotations.”

There was press coverage all over the country, Pattis noted, meaning it will impossible for his client to get a fair trial by an impartial jury. “The defendant’s right to have his case tried in court and not the media has been compromised,” Pattis wrote, “and he needs a solution that guarantees a verdict against him will not be political.” The federal criminal investigation is still ongoing, and there may be more arrests to come.