By Dan Uhlinger, Courant Staff Writer
Copyright 2006 The Hartford Courant Company
All Rights Reserved
EAST HARTFORD- Four state parole officers and five members of the town police department have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by a Manor Circle family whose home was broken into last year in a mistaken search for a parole violator.
Acting on an unverified, anonymous tip, the parole officers, assisted by town police, broke into the home of Kevin Davidson, 20, of 80 Manor Circle, June 28, 2005, forced him to the floor and handcuffed him, according to the lawsuit, dated Oct. 19.
The parole officers thought Davidson was Gerald Hayden, who was in technical violation of his parole and lived on the other side of town on Ellington Road. The officers released Davidson after realizing he was not the suspect they were seeking.
Hayden, 24, was found later in Burlington, Vt., and brought back to Connecticut. He was found guilty of third-degree assault in 2001 in connection with a domestic incident in South Windsor, and he had a 2003 conviction for violating probation.
The lawsuit, which seeks more than $15,000 in damages, lawyer fees and other costs, accuses the officers of assault, battery, false imprisonment, committing intentional emotional distress and negligence.
After conducting an internal investigation, state Department of Correction officials gave a 30-day unpaid suspension to parole officer Jason Gaudet, the case manager and lead officer. Parole officers Jason Bedard and Jeffrey Fernandes received five-day suspensions.
The officers, who are named in the lawsuit, were disciplined for failing to check out the informant's tip that the violator was staying at 80 Manor Circle. Joseph Haggans, a parole supervisor who allegedly approved the operation, was not disciplined but is also named in the lawsuit.
Shortly after the break-in, state officials apologized to Davidson and his parents, Troy and Lisa Davidson, who were home when the officers broke in, and offered to replace the kitchen and bedroom doors that were broken down.
Brian Garnett, correction department spokesman, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Officer Hugo Benettieri, spokesman for town police, said the department could not comment because of the pending litigation.
East Hartford Officers Nathan Stebbins, Stephen Grossi, John Miller, Joseph Ficacelli and Sgt. James McElroy also were named in the lawsuit.
After an internal investigation of the break-in, town Police Chief Mark J. Sirois said the town officers went to the threshold of the kitchen door but did not enter the home.
The lawsuit however, contends that the officers went inside the home.
Kevin Davidson said he had just arrived home from work and was eating a sandwich at his kitchen table when he looked outside and saw the parole officers dressed in street clothes.
Mistaking the officers for criminals who might try to break in, Davidson said, he took a steak knife and went to his bedroom on the first floor. A few minutes later, the men were shining a flashlight through his bedroom window, pointing a gun at him and shouting for him to freeze. The officers then suddenly broke through the kitchen and bedroom doors, threw him to the floor and handcuffed him, Davidson said.
Conn. officers sued in raid; broke into wrong home for parole violator