NAUGATUCK — A former Bridgeport police officer is accused of fabricating a story about receiving racially charged hate mail in his department mailbox.
On Tuesday, Clive Higgins, 50, of 30 Cotton Hollow Road, Naugatuck, turned himself in to state police barracks Troop I in Bethany after learning of a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with second-degree falsely reporting an incident and released on a written promise to appear Dec. 16 at Bridgeport Superior Court.
Higgins claimed he found a letter in his mailbox on Feb. 9 and “became alarmed for his own personal safety” because it stated “we know where you live” and “remember you have no duty weapon to defend yourself.”
State police investigated and questioned Higgins about the letter when portions of his story didn’t add up. Higgins admitted to writing the letter at the demand of a department superior who wanted to bring awareness of racial discrimination within the Bridgeport Police Department.
Higgins, a 13-year Bridgeport Police Department veteran, resigned from the department in July, seven months after he was acquitted in a police brutality case that became national news. That incident happened in 2011 when Higgins was caught on video stomping a suspect who was laying on the ground in Beardsley Park.
Less than a month after his acquittal, Higgins found himself in another controversy.
The one-page letter on Bridgeport Police Department letterhead stated, among other things, “the chief and assistant chief want you out of here” and “these black officers belong in the toilet.” It begins and ends with the phrase “white power.”
Higgins said he brought the letter to the attention of Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, who is president of the Bridgeport Guardians, a minority group of officers within the Bridgeport PD in which Higgins was once an active member.
On March 24, state police investigators interviewed Higgins and told him they had reviewed footage of his movements on the date of the alleged incident. The footage shows Higgins typing and printing out a letter; he later removed the letter from a satchel before he read it out loud in front of fellow officers, according to the affidavit.
Footage shows Higgins after he said he received the letter making copies of a document and laughing with co-workers.
“At no time did it appear Higgins was in fear for his personal safety based on his actions,” the affidavit states.
Higgins began to confess when investigators noted that the letterhead and typeface on the document he printed and put in his satchel is the same as the one he claimed to have discovered in his mailbox.
He was initially reluctant to say who asked him to write the letter, saying he “didn’t want to be labeled a rat.” After some prodding by investigators, Higgins said Blackwell, the lieutenant to whom he brought the initial complaint, put him up to writing the letter “to bring attention to the department with respect to ongoing racial complaints.”
“Higgins stated he felt compelled to write the letter at Blackwell’s request as Blackwell is a ranking member of the department and the president of the Guardians,” the affidavit states.
When investigators questioned Blackwell, he denied having any involvement. He said that when Higgins first brought the letter to his attention, he told him to “leave the department immediately as it was a dangerous environment for him to be in,” according to the affidavit.
Blackwell told investigators “he didn’t care what color the person was that wrote the letter and that he wanted to behavior/culture at the department to change.”
Blackwell has not been charged but has been placed on leave from the Bridgeport PD.