NAUGATUCK — Five days before former borough police officer Thomas Grant was arrested on domestic violence charges, borough police began receiving tips that he was abusing prescription medications, heroin and cocaine, sometimes while on duty.
In an April memo, Chief Christopher Edson wrote that he found the allegations of drug use “substantiated.”
Grant’s fellow officers arrested him Jan. 25 after his girlfriend reported that he punched her, pulled a chunk of her hair out, used racial slurs and threatened to kill her and himself while drunk. Having already violated the department’s alcohol policies twice, Grant was working under a last-chance agreement with Edson and was facing a termination hearing when he resigned earlier this month to pursue a disability pension.
A May 3 termination hearing was held solely on the basis of Grant’s suspected intoxication during the fights with his girlfriend and the subsequent scene on Frederick Street and in the police department while he was being arrested, said Lt. Robert Harrison, who conducted internal investigations into that incident and the drug allegations.
Grant is not being criminally prosecuted on drug charges because some of the reported incidents happened so long ago that they fall outside the statute of limitations, and the evidence that remained was not substantive enough to support prosecution, Harrison said.
Three people acquainted with Grant, two of them felons, told police that Grant was using prescription pills and crack cocaine.
A confidential informant told police he had supplied Grant with Percocet pills about 50 times and had bought Grant heroin at least 20 times. The two would frequently meet on Breen Field and at a house on Frederick Street, according to the report.
“On one or two occasions he saw Officer Grant snort the dope right out of the bag,” Harrison wrote in the report. “This was done while Officer Grant was on duty. … In all the times he supplied drugs for Officer Grant, he was off duty on only one or two occasions.”
During a February interview, Grant denied having an alcohol problem and said he had never taken drugs, legal or illegal, that were not prescribed to him, according to the report. He denied buying drugs from the informant and reminded Harrison that he had undergone regular drug tests since 2009. He was not, however, tested for Percocet use, and heroin would not show up in his system more than two days after it was taken, according to the report.
He did admit to being with a friend, a felon who later died of an overdose, last winter while the friend tried to buy cocaine in a Waterbury bar. Grant admitted he knew his friend was a felon.
“I think he said (he) was a registered offender, sex offender or something, but that doesn’t make him a bad person,” Grant said, according to the report.
Harrison and Edson concluded that Grant had violated department policies by associating with drug users, felons and registered sex offenders on a personal level and failing to act on felonies committed in his presence. Harrison also wrote he had “probable cause to believe” Grant was using illegal drugs and providing them to others.
M. Leonard Caine III, one of Grant’s attorneys, disputed the credibility of the police department’s informants.
One past member of the police commission had been convicted of two felonies, Caine said.
“His name was Bill Rado,” Caine said. “He was mayor of Naugatuck. So does anyone who associated with him violate the policies?”
After Grant’s girlfriend reported the January incident, Sgt. Ronald Hunt and Sgt. Bryan Cammarata went to a Frederick Street house in search of Grant, according to the investigation report. Grant soon pulled up in a car, stood in the middle of the street and yelled drunkenly at his superiors, according to the report. Hunt took Grant’s weapon from the back seat of his car.
“It was apparent that Grant was not going to stop creating a scene,” Hunt wrote. As they pulled into the rear lot of police headquarters, Grant yelled at Capt. Jeremiah Scully and Lt. Gregory Dean and gave them both the middle finger, according to the report.
Once inside the police department’s Spring Street building, Grant tried to push Cammarata, according to police.
“Grant was ranting and carrying on,” Hunt wrote.
Caine said Grant’s conduct during his arrest should not have been used as a reason to fire him.
“He was on his private time at that point,” Caine said. “He wasn’t on duty.”
Grant lived on May Street at the time of the incident but now lives with friends in Waterbury, Caine said.
After Grant was placed on leave, officers inventoried his locker and found 27 driver’s licenses and identification cards, which he had seized from people with suspended licenses and was using as “trophies” in violation of department policies and procedures, according to the report. Harrison also reviewed Grant’s sick time usage and concluded that Grant frequently called in sick to give himself a long weekend.
Harrison concluded that Grant’s behavior violated his last-chance agreement, which stated he would be fired if he committed any alcohol-related violations of department rules for four years.
“Officer Grant made a spectacle of himself and this department on Frederick Street with his intoxicated, disrespectful, insubordinate and disorderly conduct,” Harrison wrote.