New video shows meeting between Norwalk senator, police officers prior to spitting incident
NORWALK — The Norwalk Police Union released footage on Tuesday of the July 24 meeting with state Sen. Bob Duff that preceded an incident in which the legislator claims he was spit at and intimidated by Norwalk officers.
Norwalk Police Union President David O’Connor argues the newly released footage, which was taken from an officer’s cellphone, is at odds with Duff’s portrayal of the incident in a letter.
The video picks up in the final 15 minutes of a nearly 40-minute-long meeting between Duff and the police union’s executive board.
O’Connor said the footage instead shows a cordial, but pointed, questioning of Duff over the police accountability bill.
“It shows that we had some concerns, and we voiced those concerns to Sen. Duff and got some very great non-answers. He didn’t answer our questions, he wasn’t familiar with the language and he did nothing to clarify things for us or assuage our concerns,” O’Connor said.
The video of the meeting comes a week after the department released surveillance footage showing officer Mike Silva making a spitting gesture after staring in Duff’s direction — ostensibly confirming Duff’s account of the incident.
Not shown in the latest footage is the moment when Duff said about 15 officers entered the meeting without invitation and allegedly began trying to intimidate him.
On Tuesday, Duff stood by his statement that more than a dozen police officers “stormed” the meeting “as a show of force.”
“Many of them, before they sat down, were acting in an intimidating and bullying manner,” Duff said. “It was in their facial expressions, their body language and their mannerisms.”
The video shows Sgt. David Orr, a former police union president, and other officers asking Duff about why he supported a bill, which they called a “horrific abomination.”
“Why was this crafted in the first place?” Orr said. “I feel like we’re lacking empirical evidence that shows us that there’s a reason to enact legislation like this. There’s no empirical evidence that shows there is an epidemic of willful, wanton and illegal behavior going on in Connecticut. We have a couple of outlying incidents in the far corners of the country, but Connecticut by and large is the tip of spear in doing good, effective policing.”
Another officer, whose face is obscured in the video, claims the reform bill is aimed at the wrong people.
“It’s a police reform bill, right, so we’re trying to reform police. But in a lot of people’s minds here, police don’t need the reform. It’s the public that needs the reform,” he said.
Duff said the meeting, while pointed and tense at times, was not the issue with the day’s events.
“I never said that anything in that meeting, as far as answering tough questions, was an issue. I have no problem answering tough questions or having people raise their voices at me, that’s all part of the job,” Duff said.
The problem, Duff said, is what happened before and after the meeting.
In a letter to O’Connor, dated Aug. 20, Duff said he was greeted when he arrived at police headquarters by officers using expletives and demanding to know what he was doing there.
“After the meeting ended, I was asked by an officer not on the executive board for a few minutes of my time. As we were talking, the single door opened and I saw one of your officers, and about twenty other officers behind him. He then looked at me in a menacing manner, and spit at me. Yes, spit at me,” Duff wrote in the letter.