Conn. cop fired for telling group of youths he felt 'trigger happy' to receive $12K from department
Hartford Police Officer Stephen Barone will receive the money for unused vacation time, plus more than $70K in retirement pay
By Jenna Carlesso
The Hartford Courant
HARTFORD, Conn. — Fired Hartford Police Officer Stephen Barone, who was caught on camera telling a group of young people that he felt “trigger happy,” will receive a payment of $12,412.85 for unused vacation time, city records show.
Barone, a 10-year member of the department, has two options for collecting his retirement pay. He can withdraw what he has contributed — $72,530 — or wait until 2033, when he qualifies to receive pension checks, city officials said. If he elects to wait, he’ll get payments of $3,302 per month, or $39,624 annually, beginning that year.
Barone is not eligible to receive a payout for unused sick time, though the city did not say whether that was due to his termination.
Barone can appeal his firing, and Police Chief David Rosado said he “would assume that that would be an option they’re going to pursue.” As of Tuesday, Barone had not notified the department of his plans. He declined to comment when reached by phone.
Rosado fired Barone last Wednesday after a weekslong hearing process. Rosado said he did so even though a hearing officer recommended only a 100-day unpaid suspension for Barone.
Internal affairs investigators had already decided that Barone violated their code of conduct and discredited the force when he threatened the group with deadly force and used profanity. A sergeant at the time, Barone was the ranking officer of a new unit focused on quality of life concerns when he stopped seven men, whom he suspected were trespassing, on Heath Street.
“If anybody wants to fight or run, I’m a little trigger happy guys, I'm not gonna lie,” he was filmed saying on Aug. 9. One of the men Barone stopped, Rashawn Johnson, recorded the encounter on his phone. It was later circulated on Facebook.
In another video of the incident, released by the city a month later, Barone is heard listing the inconveniences of shooting someone on duty. Firing his weapon would make him ineligible for overtime, he explained. “That means I got to sell my cars, move from my nice house.”
Barone told internal affairs officers that he could have used “a better choice of words,” but believed at the time his words were “effective in maintaining control.” He appeared to particularly regret the widespread news coverage of the incident, telling investigators he was “very apologetic on how this is being portrayed.”
While police decided Barone had not violated the civil rights of the group, who were mostly black and Hispanic, several community leaders and pastors said Barone’s handling of the encounter reflected a mistrust between the mostly white department and a city that is more than 80 percent nonwhite. Barone was also filmed saying only “junkies” come to Hartford from his wealthy suburb of Glastonbury.
Investigators also found that Barone flouted department rules when he failed to call off a chase in July, in which two Hartford officers drove their cruiser the wrong way on Interstate 91 at nearly 60 mph.
Barone was demoted last month and assigned to desk duty, his salary lowered from the $89,200 base pay he made as a sergeant to $76,800 as an officer.