Video of Conn. officer using stun gun on laywer conflicts with police report
By Dave Collins
HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut police department's surveillance video appears to contradict an officer's report of an incident that ends with police subduing a former state agency lawyer with stun guns.
Officer Erik Hansen was fingerprinting former Connecticut Freedom of Information attorney Henry "Hank" Pawlowski Jr. on Aug. 5 on allegations he assaulted another officer in June.
The video, which has no sound, shows Pawlowski slightly raising his right arm when Hansen roughly drives him to the floor and two other officers shoot Pawlowski with stun guns. Police then charged Pawlowski with interfering with an officer.
According to Hansen's report, Pawlowski stepped back and took a threatening stance while he was being fingerprinted.
"Twice he pulled his hand away and I cautioned him to keep his fingers flat on the scanner," Hansen wrote. "The third time he pulled back his hand, stepped back, focused on me and took a stance as if to attack me. I then grabbed Pawlowski around his neck and shoulders and drove him to the floor."
The video, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, doesn't show Pawlowski taking time to focus on the officer and going into a threatening stance. As soon has he pulls his arm back, Hansen tackles him.
Police also used stun guns on Pawlowski in June after he allegedly assaulted an officer and in January, when he was charged with fleeing a car crash and fighting with police.
Pawlowski, 41, was fired from his state job after his January arrest and resigned from the East Hartford school board. His attorney, Craig Raab, has said that Pawlowski has a serious but treatable mental health condition, which he would not name.
Raab said Monday that he and Pawlowski would not comment on the surveillance video.
"He'll plead not guilty and then vigorously defend the charges," Raab said.
Raab said Pawlowski will enter not guilty pleas in Manchester Superior Court next Tuesday.
Pawlowski, of East Hartford, couldn't be reached for comment; no phone listing in his name could be found.
Pawlowski was accepted into a probation program in connection with the January incidents, in which police say he fled from a car accident and struggled with officers before being shot with a Taser, bitten by a police dog and subdued with chemical spray.
Raab said Pawlowski is in the state's "psychiatric diversion" program, which is similar to accelerated rehabilitation. The January charges could be dropped if Pawlowski successfully completes a one-year probation period that includes counseling.
A message seeking comment was left for Hansen at the police department Monday.
Police Chief Mark Sirois said he believes Hansen's report is consistent with the video. He said he has not ordered an internal affairs investigation.
"The video shows that he (Pawlowski) was not complying with the officer's instructions," Sirois said. "He pulled away from the officer. The officer brought him to the ground. I stand by the officer's report."
The two officers who shot Pawlowski with Tasers on Aug. 5 wrote in their reports that they were doing other duties when they heard Pawlowski and Hansen arguing. They said they rushed to Hansen's aid when they saw him in a struggle with Pawlowski, and were forced to fire the stun guns to make Pawlowski stop resisting arrest.