Police officers charged with beating motorist
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Three police officers were charged today in the videotaped beating of an unarmed motorist as one of their lawyers proclaimed, ``It’s not a Rodney King.″
A camera inside a police cruiser caught 10 seconds of the Feb. 14 beating in suburban Bloomfield. One witness said it went on for three or four minutes as onlookers pleaded with the officers to stop.
Officers Michael Ancona, Jacqueline Middleton and Hugh O’Callaghan were charged with hindering prosecution, fabricating evidence, falsely reporting an incident, and conspiracy.
Ancona and Ms. Middleton, who also were charged with assault and reckless endangerment, face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. O’Callaghan faces up to five years. They were suspended without pay.
``I haven’t seen the tape but my client will plead not guilty. This is not an intentional assault,″ said Ancona’s lawyer, Carmine Guiliano. ``It’s not a Rodney King.″
The incident recalled the 1991 King beating, in which white Los Angeles police were videotaped beating the black motorist. In this case, however, the motorist, 37-year-old James Wilson, is white.
Wilson, of Southwick, Mass., led police on a three-mile chase after he refused an order to pull over. His lawyer, Christopher Bromson, said Wilson didn’t initially pull over because a family member recently had a terrifying run-in with Hartford police. He drove to Bloomfield seeking safe haven, Bromson said, where he was arrested.
A witness said about a dozen officers watched the beating of Wilson. And Bromson said he has been told that a second videotape _ recorded on a camera in an ATM machine _ also may have captured the arrest.
Wilson was hospitalized overnight after Bloomfield police took him into custody. He had facial and head cuts that required stitches and suffered a swollen right eye.
Wilson has a history of traffic violations. On Thursday, he pleaded innocent to reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit and operating with a suspended license.
Ancona is a seven-year police veteran. O’Callaghan has six years on the force, and Ms. Middleton has three. They had been on desk duty since Wilson’s beating.