Civil Rights
8:28 am
Fri October 4, 2013

East Haven Police Officers on Trial

East Haven police officer Dennis Spaulding and his wife leave court in late September in Hartford.
Credit Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

Two police officers from East Haven are facing charges that they harassed Latinos and violated their civil rights. Prosecutors are making their cases against David Cari and Dennis Spaulding in Hartford federal court. As they do, they're calling members of East Haven's largely Ecuadoran community to testify.

Evan Lips is a reporter for The New Haven Register covering the trial. "We heard from a man named Moises Marin," he said, "who owns the La Bamba restaurant in East Haven. And he has charged that Officer Spaulding hurt him during the arrest."

Lips said defense attorneys are working to undermine the credibility of the government's witnesses. "It just appears to me that the motive there is to create some doubt among the jurors," he said. 

But Lips said that the most riveting testimony has come from other East Haven police officers called to the stand. "I feel like the most compelling testimony we've heard in the case so far involved another officer who happened to be working the same night as four Latino men were arrested outside La Bamba," he said. "And one of the men has charged that the he was hit by police inside the station after he was booked."

The officer who testified is Anthony Rybaruk. Lips said Rybaruk struggled to keep his composure as he spoke. "He verified several things that one of the arrested men said had happened to him," Lips said. "And it was very difficult for him to do so, to go beyond that blue line, as it were, and talk about what another officer, what a fellow officer may have done to an arrestee."

The trial is expected to continue for another month.

Read more about what Evan Lips had to share about the trial so far.