By Elio Gugliotti, Republican-American
(Naugatuck police released the above footage from body cameras worn by officers and a surveillance camera.)
NAUGATUCK — Borough police released footage Wednesday from body cameras worn by officers during a traffic stop that has become the focus of an internal investigation.
The traffic stop occurred Monday at about 9 a.m. after a driver maneuvered around a police cruiser that was blocking a lane due to construction on Rubber Avenue at the intersection of Arch Street, footage from a surveillance camera shows.
The car drives in the wrong lane on Rubber Avenue and into the A1 Plaza parking lot at 129 Rubber Ave., according to police.
The surveillance video, which doesn’t have audio, shows Officer Ian Kosky, a member of the police force for 14 years, approaching the car as the man climbs out. At one point, the officer steps closer to the driver until the two are face-to-face. After about a minute, Kosky grabs the man’s hand, turns him around and pushes him up against the car, the video shows.
The department released footage Wednesday from two officers who responded after the driver, who police identified as 31-year-old Jonas Barrocas of Naugatuck, had stepped from the car. The body camera footage doesn’t show the initial interaction between Barrocas and Kosky, who was working private duty at the construction site.
Deputy Police Chief C. Colin McAllister said officers working private duty road jobs, which Kosky and Officer David Graham were doing at the time of the stop, do not wear body cameras.
Barrocas is heard in the video telling the officers that other officers had allowed him to drive around the blocked lane to get into the plaza in the past and he assumed he could do it again, according to the video. He says he didn’t see Kosky and went around the cruiser. He said Kosky ran up to the car screaming at him. Barrocas said he was “pissed” because of the way Kosky approached him.
Barrocas says he asked for another officer when Kosky first asked for his license because he felt his safety was in danger, the video shows. He says he got his license and had it in his hand when Kosky slammed him against his car.
The body cameras record Kosky as he tells Sgt. Michael Wawrzyniak he was watching traffic when the car drove around the cruiser. Kosky says Barrocas started screaming at him and wouldn’t initially give him his license.
Kosky says he told Barrocas to give him his license several times and he pulled away, so he “whipped him around.” Kosky says he was going to put the man in handcuffs but he didn’t have any on him.
The video shows Barrocas and Kosky continued a heated exchange in the parking lot, screaming and pointing at each other. At one point, the driver says Kosky’s actions were uncalled for. Kosky responds, “Don’t worry you’re going to pay for what you called for.”
Barrocas complains about his shoulder hurting; Kosky says if he goes to the hospital he’d be taken into custody and arrested for interfering with an officer, the video shows.
After several minutes, and as other officers arrive, the men become calmer.
Kosky issues Barrocas a $436 ticket for driving in the wrong lane, disregarding an officer’s signal in a construction zone and driving the wrong way on a one-way street, the video shows. Kosky tells Wawrzyniak he doesn’t want to pursue a charge of interfering with an officer.
Police received a formal complaint about the traffic stop, which prompted Police Chief Steven Hunt to launch an internal investigation. Police have declined to release the complaint, citing the ongoing investigation.
The department has not taken any disciplinary action or placed an officer on administrative assignment as part of the investigation.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to contact Detective Lt. Daniel Norck at 203-729-5222 ext. 2581.