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Three Hartford police officers arrested in beating of motorist

March 1, 1997

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Three police officers were arrested Friday on charges stemming from the videotaped pistol-whipping of a motorist and an alleged cover-up attempt.

``I haven’t seen the tape but my client will plead not guilty. This is not an intentional assault,″ said Carmine Guiliano, a lawyer for one of the officers, Michael Ancona. ``It’s not a Rodney King.″

There were parallels with the 1991 King beating, in which white Los Angeles police were videotaped beating the black motorist. In this case, however, the motorist, 37-year-old James Wilson, is white.

A camera inside a police cruiser caught 10 seconds of the Feb. 14 beating outside the police station in suburban Bloomfield, which followed a three-mile chase from adjacent Hartford.

The Hartford officers said they chased Wilson because they thought he was a fugitive who had attacked a police officer in a separate incident. Wilson said he fled because of the Hartford police have a reputation for violence.

Ancona, 34, and officer Jacqueline Middleton, 29, are charged with assault and reckless endangerment, accused of pistol-whipping Wilson while he lay unresisting on the ground. Ancona, Middleton and Officer Hugh O’Callaghan, 27, also are charged with fabricating evidence, false reporting and hindering prosecution. All three have been suspended without pay.

``This is definitely not one of our better days,″ Hartford Police Chief Joseph Croughwell said after the officers surrendered.

One witness said the beating went on for three or four minutes as onlookers pleaded with the officers to stop.

A Bloomfield police officer said he saw Middleton ``strike Wilson in the head with the butt of her gun several times,″ according to court records. The officer also said he saw Ancona strike Wilson at least once.

Wilson was hospitalized overnight with a bruised and lacerated right eye as well as head and back pain.

Police investigators said there’s nothing on the tape, which has not been made public, to corroborate the three officers’ report that Wilson’s injuries were caused when O’Callaghan struck him with his baton after Wilson hit him in the chest.

``Ancona, Middleton and O’Callaghan agreed as to what story they would put in their reports, knowing such information was false,″ their arrest report said.

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