HARTFORD (AP) — A Hartford police officer caught on video warning a group of young people not to flee or fight because he was “trigger happy” has been demoted and faces a disciplinary process that could lead to a suspension or his firing, officials announced Thursday.
Hartford Sgt. Stephen Barone was demoted to officer and assigned to desk duty after an internal affairs investigation found he violated the department’s code of conduct, Police Chief David Rosado said. The investigation also found that Barone did not violate the group’s civil rights or harass them.
Mayor Luke Bronin said the disciplinary process could take several weeks.
“It was deeply disturbing and distressing to our entire community,” Bronin said about the incident at a news conference. “It was inconsistent with the values of our city, the values of our police department. It was offensive. And it also created a real sense of fear and anger, both in those who were interacting with then-Sgt. Barone that night and in our community as a whole.”
Barone did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
A Facebook video shows Barone talking to a group of young people he stopped last month during a trespassing call.
“If anyone wants to fight or run ... I’m a little trigger-happy guys. I’m not gonna lie, and I get paid a ton of money in overtime, if I had to shoot somebody. Don’t do anything stupid,” Barone said on the video.
Police on Thursday also released additional video footage of the encounter that shows Barone saying he made the comments because he needed to keep control of a scene where he was outnumbered.
Barone also told the group that he could lose thousands of dollars if he shot somebody, because he would be under investigation and unable to work overtime.
He also told the group that people from the wealthy suburb where he lives only go to Hartford because they’re junkies.
The video of Barone, who is white, angered members of the black community and religious leaders, who have called for him to be fired.