I have been reviewing Lt. Martino's analysis of my complaint and his subsequent investigation. I believe the core principle behind his finding that my complaint is 'unfounded' is that Officer Flood had probable cause for my arrest for Disorderly Conduct. His position is that since I knowingly carried a firearm in an exposed holster, that I caused the disturbance that night. This is of course ridiculous, since a lawful behavior is no cause for a person to cause a disturbance and blame it on me. The call of 'man with a gun' could have been 'man with a spoon' or 'man driving a car' for all anyone is concerned. The 911 transcripts and the information available to the police before I was handcuffed and placed under arrest for Breach of Peace (not disorderly conduct as the officers now are trying to claim) indicate that a man (me) was inside a pool hall, had a holstered firearm in plain view. No one disputes this, and there is nothing unlawful about this. Mr Vanaman tells dispatch that he ordered me to conceal (from Tape transcription of radio transmissions and calls to dispatch 10-0014 10-10370.doc):
MARK VANAMAN: Yeah, right, sitting right out in front of Yale Billiards. I asked him if he was gonna cover his weapon and he told me it was none of my business, he didn’t need to.
MARK VANAMAN: Yeah he’s white. About 260 lbs., long hair in a ponytail with a mustache and goatee. He’s sitting there, he’s waiting for ya. I told him I was gonna call if you, if he didn’t um, cover it.
I don't believe that is the language I used, but I agree with Mark Vanaman, that was the effect of my language. My firearm and how I carry it is none of his business, and I don't need to conceal it. Where did he get the idea to conceal? Where did he get the idea that what I was doing requires any kind of legal intervention?
MARK VANAMAN: Yep. On his right side with two magazines on it and uh, uh, magazine holder in the back. And I know you’re not supposed to carry it especially in a, in a place that has alcohol.
Mark Vanaman's core reason for calling the police, make a disturbance in the pool hall and verbally assaulting me was that he believed (erroneously) that you cannot carry a firearm in a place that serves alcohol. No such CT law exists. Mark Vanaman has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to firearms law. I believe none of the responding officers or Lt. Martino did either as of that night.
So Mark Vanaman has called the police on me for doing nothing wrong, nothing disruptive and nothing illegal. So what is the problem? At this point, the dispatcher should have informed him that he is not aware of any law being broken, and asking Mark Vanaman if there is anything else that would constitute a crime. Any threatening behavior? Am I consuming alcohol? Am I confused or disoriented? Do I seem angry or hostile? The answer would have been 'no' to any of those if we believe that Mark Vanaman is a truthful person (he is not, I have evidence of that as well).
The dispatcher did not follow up. In fact, the dispatcher seems to be very unaware of the laws and does not seem willing to do even a cursory check of the legality of what is being reported before dispatching officers 'Code 1' (lights and sirens). Here you can see Robert Hilton (the owner of Yale Billiards) essentially ask if what I am doing is legal. The answer should have been a resounding 'yes' since the dispatcher has no other indication of any crime occurring.
ROBERT HILTON: All right good cuz I uh, I would like to try find out this issue in case this ever happens again, I could really, I mean I kind, I, what I did is I told him let me just calm down, I was actually gonna call you and then one of my customers made a scene about it, so, that’s what happened. You know, (inaudible) cuz he’s trying to tell me it is, it, it’s legal and I’m like, I don’t think that’s legal, but.
What does the dispatcher respond with?
DISPATCHER SEVELOWITZ: Nah, I don’t, I….
This dispatcher is clearly not properly trained to know how to deal with a 'man with a gun' call in the state of Connecticut. He is bewildered and confused, and clearly thinks that something unlawful is occurring despite no evidence of this.
Lieutenant Martino claims that I was arrested for Disorderly Conduct for creating a disturbance in a pool hall. There is no evidence that night I had created the disturbance, in fact I am telling them they are talking to the wrong person, so is Anna (my girlfriend). Other people are outside on the bench with us when they arrive who are there to corroborate my claim. The officers don't talk to anyone on scene other than Mark Vanaman, and place me under arrest for Breach of Peace for carrying an exposed firearm. I was told this by Sergeant Colavolpe who was calling the shots on scene. At least Anna and I can testify to this, and I have in my sworn statement (from: RichsPreparedStatementForIAInterview.pdf).
"I did not resist at all, but I did start asking what I was being detained for and what the charge was that they planned on arresting me for since they had now made it clear that they would not deal with this in a rational manner. Their reply was that I was carrying a firearm in the open and that I had caused an issue and that it would be for breach of peace. "
Lieutenant Martino disputes this. He says I was not arrested for any weapons related charge, and that I was arrested for Disorderly Conduct for creating a disturbance. There is no evidence submitted at any time (in fact their investigation the next day actually provides evidence of Mark Vanaman's wrongdoing) that I had done anything but peacefully play pool until Mark Vanaman verbally assaulted me, but Lieutenant Martino ignores this fact (from: LieutenantMartinosSynopsisOfInterview.pdf).
"Mr. Richard E. Burgess was arrested for Disorderly Conduct"
Officer Flood does the same:
"Officer Flood stated that Sergeant Colavolpe told him that he was under arrest for Disorderly Conduct and then told Officer Garcia to place Mr. Burgess in the back of the police cruiser."
There is a problem here. None of that statement that Officer Flood makes is true. I was never told I was under arrest for Disorderly Conduct. This charge was only announced at the police department while I was being booked by Officer Garcia. Disorderly Conduct was never mentioned in any way on scene. Sgt. Colavolpe conveniently does not remember (from: OfficerColavolpesStatement.pdf).
"I do not recall if I told him Breach of Peace or Disorderly Conduct, but it was one of them."
That is a pretty important fact to suddenly 'not recall', isn't it? Luckily, I can refresh Sgt. Colavolpe's memory (from: Tape transcription of radio transmissions and calls to dispatch 10-0014 10-10370.doc).
SGT. COLAVOLPE: Absolutely, he’s already under arrest for beach.
Sound familiar Sgt. Colavolpe? Those are your words, on the dispatch transcript. So did Lt. Martino just miss this or not see it? Why didn't he call his officers out on selective recollection or outright lies? He must have missed this. Wait, it appears Lt. Martino suffers from the same selective memory loss.
LT. MARTINO: Wright said there was something in the legislature about some guy, some NRA attorney that wanted to argue this statute. It says, it’s saying that it doesn’t say it has to be concealed, it says you have to have a permit to carry and I guess he, I guess he won the argument. The problem is, and like the idea with Bill Wright is, just because it’s, just because they may interpret it that way doesn’t mean you can walk into a bar with your gun out and then refuse to conceal it and then walk around outside with your gun out. So we need to charge, we need to charge him with the breach.
Lt. Martino is ordering Sgt. Colavolpe to arrest me for breach for carrying an exposed firearm. This is in direct conflict with Lt. Martino's assertions that I was not arrested for Breach of Peace for openly carrying a firearm.
Maybe I misunderstood Sgt. Colavolpe? Well here he is again.
SGT. COLAVOLPE: Well absolutely, at a minimum the breach because he caused a disturbance down here.
So my statements and Anna's statements about what I was arrested for, and why I was arrested align with the factual evidence present. Lt. Martino, Sgt. Colavolpe and Officer Flood cannot be trusted. They are outright lying.
But hey, they must have some kind of witness that can say I was causing a problem other than Mark Vanaman, who himself is wrong and lying, right?
They didn't take a single statement that night.
Officer Flood did not take any written statements on the evening of this incident because he was told by Sergeant Colavolpe that he did not need to do so.
Of course. Because I was arrested for openly carrying a firearm. They all saw it, they didn't need any other evidence. If I was arrested for causing a disturbance (something that they have no evidence of to this day), then wouldn't they have wanted a few witnesses to corroborate this?
Well, Officer Flood decided he would like some, so he went down to the pool hall on 5-17-2010. This was after I had made my official complaint of wrongful arrest that morning. The Wallingford PD has not denied that Officer Flood was investigating his own case. Officer Flood found this 'smoking gun' in his witness statement from Sarah Dobensky (from: Transcript of Sarah Dobensky (5-17-10).rtf):
SARAH DOBENSKY: Oh. Uh, my that leaves me to my next question is. I, I understand like seeing that upset a lot of people.
OFFICER FLOOD: Uh-huh.
SARAH DOBENSKY: But there were a bunch of people like I said who didn't even notice, I hadn't noticed until someone said something to me.
OFFICER FLOOD: Yeah.
SARAH DOBENSKY: Um, the fact that Mark went over there and was so loud and um, made the scene, made it into a huge commotion that made everyone in the pool hall notice what was going on.
OFFICER FLOOD: Okay.
SARAH DOBENSKY: Um, shouldn't Mark be in trouble as well or no?
Uh oh, Officer Flood. You made a big mistake. Your key witnesses don't even agree with you. It is no wonder that the transcript from Sarah Dobensky was never submitted to the State's Attorney for my case and Lt. Mikulski refused to supply it to me despite numerous requests until after my complaint against Mark Vanaman. More of that selective recollection, I guess.