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Videotape shows motorist beaten after seeking refuge at police station

February 20, 1997

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A police camera videotaped the beating of a motorist who said he didn’t stop for Hartford police because he was afraid of them, and drove to a suburban police station instead.

Ten seconds of the encounter between James Wilson and three Hartford police officers were captured on videotape in front of the station before Bloomfield officers intervened and took Wilson into custody.

Patricia Davis of Bloomfield, whose office is across the street, said the beating seemed to last ``for three or four minutes,″ and that she and several co-workers had begged the officers to stop.

``There were a dozen of them just standing there, watching,″ she said Wednesday. ``It was awful.″

Hartford Deputy Police Chief James O. Berry said he was upset by what he saw on the tape, which was made by a camera mounted on a Bloomfield police cruiser. The videotape was turned over to prosecutors for a criminal investigation.

``There’s a serious question in my mind of whether excessive force was used,″ Berry said Wednesday. ``There’s always a question any time an unarmed man who’s surrounded by police officers comes away with injuries like that.″

Wilson, 37, of Southwick, Mass., spent the night in the hospital after his Friday arrest on reckless driving and other charges. He received stitches to facial and head cuts and suffered a swollen right eye.

``My client thinks he was kicked in the face, but he doesn’t remember much after they began punching him, and I haven’t been allowed to see the tape yet,″ said his attorney, Christopher Bromson.

Bloomfield Police Chief Richard Mulhall said his officers intervened and took Wilson into custody. But Davis said police were very slow to react, even though it was obvious that Wilson, who was on his knees, wasn’t resisting.

Wilson was arrested after a three-mile, 60 mph chase that began in Hartford when he refused an order to pull over. City police believed he was circling in a known drug neighborhood. Wilson said he was lost.

When Wilson realized Hartford police were following him, he fled because he thought the city’s officers had a reputation for being violent, Bromson said.

He drove to suburban Bloomfield seeking safe haven, Bromson said, and then was punched and kicked after he lay down on the ground beside his truck.

Bloomfield police are interviewing officers from both cities who were at the scene. The Hartford officers were restricted to desk duty.

Wilson was ordered to appear March 3 in West Hartford Superior Court.

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