A Connecticut police officer was placed on administrative leave after video showed him pistol-whipping a Black teenager in the back of the head Friday.
Bridgeport police identified the officer as Gianni Capozziello after a witness’ video of the incident was posted on the Staxx Rivera Facebook account Saturday.
In the 21-second video, the officer can be heard yelling, “hands out the window” seconds before the driver is seen opening his car door and getting out of the car.
The officer is then seen quickly walking to the driver, pulling one of his arms toward the ground and thrashing him in the head with his gun’s magazine well in less than five seconds.
“Turn around. Turn around,” the cop said while delivering the blow. “Get the f–k on the ground.”
Capozziello said in an incident report Fox 61 obtained that he feared the suspect was reaching for a weapon when he dropped his hands to his waist.
Capozziello also said the driver, who was identified as a 17-year-old in the police report, was in a stolen vehicle.
“As soon as I became aware of the video this afternoon, I ordered the officer to be taken off duty,” Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez told Fox 61. “Following the officer’s dismissal from duty, I instructed Internal Affairs to retain the dashcam and bodycam videos of the arrest scene and to begin an investigation.
“Everything that can immediately be done to address this incident, has been done.”
Sgt. Charles Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union, cautioned people viewing the video against a “rush to judgment” in a statement released to reporters.
In the statement, Paris said Capozziello was “conducting a felony stop of an unknown occupant of a reported stolen vehicle in a location that is known for high drug trafficking and weapons.”
“These are known facts that have already been reported, and should be kept in mind before any rush to judgment based on a Facebook video,” Paris said.
He added that Bridgeport police officers are “dealing with adverse working conditions — such as the decision to split up two-person squad cars — that jeopardize officer safety and increase occupational stress.”
“This is a difficult and emotional time for everyone, including the dedicated police officers who proudly protect and serve our community,” Paris said in the statement. “Let’s use this moment as an opportunity for constructive dialogue and meaningful action to improve public safety and foster a better understanding of the challenges facing Bridgeport police officers.”
Photo Credit: The Free Thought Project