Lieutenant Anthony Martino is lying along with others in the Wallingford Police Department

by Rich_B 1. January 2011 12:04

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?

Nope.

They didn't take a single statement that night.

(From: LieutenantMartinosSynopsisOfInterview.pdf)

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.


 

Picked up Interal Affairs investigation documents from Wallingford

by Rich_B 30. December 2010 16:30

I picked up the Internal Affairs investigation documents from Wallingford that I requested in my FOIA request. Originally, Lt Mikulski had 257 pages for me. I went through the documents and trimmed this stack by 90 pages. Amongst the documents for the case, they had printed an entire opencarry.org forum thread about my case and included it. No thanks. At 50 cents a page, I am happy to pay for helpful documents, but I can follow a link or use Google's cache feature just fine when needed.

My initial reactions to the documents:

  •  They did interview Seth Tucker who was a completely random witness that had given us his card after witnessing Mark Vanaman's emotional outburst resulting in me being put in handcuffs and taken away. I was sure they wouldn't interview Mr. Tucker, since they expressed zero interest in trying to conduct a real investigation at the scene, and seemed less than thrilled about more facts being introduced to the situation that didn't have obvious police bias in their favor. I do notice that at a glance, their interview with Seth Tucker is short and completely self serving.
  •  They never interviewed Officer Garcia. I find this very interesting and a bit alarming since Officer Garcia is without a doubt the Officer who had the most contact with me, being the one who handcuffed and detained me. It is also interesting in light of a few comments by other officers who were not even in positions to be sufficient witnesses who make sweeping and erroneous claims that Officer Garcia would (should) have known to be false. One of those facts that stands out is that I was disarmed, immediately placed into handcuffs, told I was being arrested for Breach of Peace for carrying an exposed firearm. Officer Garcia himself said this a number of times and engaged me in debate about this issue. Sgt Colavolpe also said the same thing, but now 'he doesn't remember' whether he said Breach of Peace or Disorderly Conduct. Interesting that they wouldn't interview the one other officer who was in the position to testify to what was said, but instead rely on the statements of officers who by their own admission were behind the pool hall when this contact was initially made. Those officers even claim that my magazines were removed from my magazine holder on my belt 'right away', when they were not, and I requested Officer Garcia remove them about a dozen times, to which I was ordered to 'relax' despite not struggling or resisting in any way and simply making a polite request. But we are supposed to trust the word of these officers who cannot even agree (or remember) basic facts about the arrest?
  • It comes through in both Anna and my IA interviews that Lt Martino is baiting us along, and upon reading through his 'synopsis' of the investigation, it is clear why he was baiting us. His conclusions about the claims made against them are both factually wrong and taken off of misinterpretations of statements made in unclear contexts, and just outright silly. He claims I was arrested not for carrying an exposed firearm, despite both Anna and I hearing the officers say this multiple times, but for 'creating a disruption', and that officers had probable cause for this because their dispatch was that a man with an exposed firearm was 'pacing in front of the pool hall'. Besides the fact that I was never pacing in front of the pool hall, which one is illegal in CT? Pacing in front of a pool hall or having an exposed firearm? Hint: Neither.
  • It is interesting how Lt. Martino confuses his burdens of proof repeatedly. He states that I was 'clearly wrong' to make my complaint against Mark Vanaman, because the State's Attorney says there was no probable cause. But that his officers were in the right to arrest me for the same crime with even less evidence when the State's Attorney gave the same response to the charges against me. He tries to entrap me in my statement and make it sound like I made a false claim against Mark Vanaman, but the fact is that they told me that if someone knowingly makes a disturbance in a pool hall, that is disorderly. Well, we have eye witness statements from several people that all state that Mark Vanaman created the disturbance and approached me in a loud manner. Even Mark Vanaman himself does not dispute this. And yet, Lt Martino decides to ignore this and state that I created the disturbance with my lawfully carried firearm. Interesting.

 

I will be posting the documents and commenting on them as I have time. Stay tuned.

 

Wallingford responds to FOI letters

by Rich_B 21. December 2010 09:00

I received a letter from Lt. Mikulski of the Wallingford Police Department today telling me that he was working on compiling the documents I requested in the FOIA request I made to them. We will see how he does. Wallingford has been less than truthful and forthcoming with information in the past, and Lt. Mikulski has some interesting ideas about what he is and is not allowed to give me access to. 

The letter from Lt. Mikulski:

http://subtlehustle.com/OC/Wallingford Case/FOI/Wallingford Letter Response to FOIA.pdf

At least they responded. I figured I would have to be fighting them every step of the way to get them to comply like I have all the other times.

Old Saybrook police investigatory interview

by Rich_B 20. December 2010 09:00

I went to an interview with Master Sergeant Robbert van der Horst. Essentially I just made another statement, presumably to supplement the hand written complaint I submitted the day I made my original complaint. 

Interestingly, I was not allowed to bring my voice recorder in with me. He actually asked for me to leave it in the car. I am not sure why the PD would not allow you to record yourself giving a statement. It would seem to me this would be a mutually beneficial situation. In fact, I was actually not allowed to have my pens, cell phone or belt either, they were stored away in another room during the interview. A passage from Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant comes to mind:

"[Obie] Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?" Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. "

Overall, the Master Sergeant was professional, and nothing of interest really arose of this interview. He did not discuss anything of the case, only took my statement. I did realize after I had left that I had forgotten to include Patrolman DeMarco's additional (inappropriate?) contact in my statement, but I am not sure it is worth redoing the statement just for that. Patrolman DeMarco can be as blissfully ignorant as he wants to be for now. We need to fix the Sergeants first, and the rest later.

At the end of the interview, he gave me a letter from Chief Spera stating that they cannot supply me the documents I requested because the investigation is still ongoing and requesting that I reply in writing that they are allowed to wait until the completion of the interview to supply the documents. I agree of course, and I will respond accordingly. Of course, since it had been a month and a half and I had heard nothing about the investigation, I had to assume the investigation was either cancelled or completed. I am fine with waiting for the investigation to be complete of course, because it will save me an additional FOI request.

[Letter to be posted...]

Lets see if they actually conduct a real investigation, or if they just jerk me around and insult my intelligence like Wallingford did. I want to have faith in OSPD, I really do.