‘Trigger Happy’ Hartford Police Sergeant Demoted to Officer Following Investigation

Officer who said he was 'trigger happy' is demoted.

Trigger Happy Hartford Police Sergeant Demoted to Officer Following Investigation
Segment of the deposition of Hartford Police Officer Stephen Barone.

A ‘trigger happy’ Hartford police sergeant has been demoted to officer and assigned to a desk following the latest spotlight on police. Officer Stephen Barone was made famous when he was caught on camera telling a group of kids that he was a “little trigger happy”. He added that he would get paid overtime if he shot someone. He is now facing a disciplinary process that could find him suspended or fired.

'Trigger Happy' Hartsford Police Sergeant Demoted to Officer Following Investigation
Investigation underway into video of Hartford sergeant telling group he’s “trigger happy”.

The Hartford Police Chief David Rosado announced Thursday that Barone was bumped down to officer rank. He would also be riding a desk indefinitely following an internal investigation. The investigation concluded that Barone violated the department’s code of conduct. Mayor Luke Bronin said that whole disciplinary process could take weeks to complete.

During a field interview of a group of people, Barone was recorded telling the group they would be searched for drugs and weapons. He is then heard telling the group if they fled or resisted he was “a little trigger happy, I’m not going to lie”. He added he didn’t want to have to shoot somebody if they did flee or fight, so they shouldn’t “do anything stupid.”

Chief Rosado issued the following statement in reaction to the video:

“To our community partners,

I know members of our community are deeply distressed about the statements made in the video that was released last week, and as someone born and raised in Hartford, I share that sense of distress. As a department, we take great pride in the relationship of mutual respect we’ve worked to foster between the department and the community we serve.

Attacks on our officers are entirely and unequivocally wrong, counterproductive, and themselves damaging to that relationship. We should both continue to have a dialogue about the challenges we face and reject any violence directed at our officers because they are there to serve, even in the most dangerous and difficult times.”

In a joint statement, Mayor Luke Bronin and Council President Glendowlyn L.H. Thames said:

“The officer’s behavior in this video is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of our Police Department and our city,” said Mayor Bronin and Council President Thames. “This incident is both disappointing and damaging. Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to treat the use of force and threats of force seriously at all times. The men and women of our Department work every day to build a community relationship based on transparency, accountability, trust and respect, and actions like this undermine that work and that commitment. Our Department has placed the officer on administrative leave effective immediately, and internal affairs has begun an investigation. We appreciate the seriousness and transparency of the Department’s response to this incident.”

The Connecticut chapter of the ACLU released a statement saying, “True police accountability and transparency require more than an internal police investigation into this single incident.”

Residents that live on the street say that police harassment is a common occurrence. Luis Colon says he heard the statements made by the trigger happy cop and found them to be “scary, insulting and disturbing.”

“I was sitting on the corner of the street and they were sitting right there on the stairs,” said Colon pointing to where the group was sitting next door. “It was crazy and I didn’t think the police do something like that.”

Colon has his own experiences with Hartford police. He says he was entering his home that same day when a cop approached him and asked if he had any guns or drugs. He told the officer he didn’t have any and was just heading home from work. At that point, the officer allegedly handcuffed him and gave him an arrest ticket for loitering.

“In front of my house. That’s crazy. I can’t imagine having a ticket right now,” said Colon as he showed News 8’s George Colli the ticket. “This is my first case. I never in my life been in trouble since I came here from Puerto Rico [9 years ago].

Barone has been suspended in the past for his involvement in an incident where another officer kicked a handcuffed suspect. He was suspended for four days.