DANBURY City police face federal suit
DANBURY — A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday alleges that city police officers conducted illegal searches and illegally recorded telephone conversations.
The suit was filed on behalf of Yvonne Perkins, the owner of Moore Bail Bonds, and claims that five police officers including Detective Rachel Halas and Lt. Joseph LeRose conspired to put the company out of business and steer clients to the company’s competitors.
“This case shows a widespread culture of lawlessness that’s appalling in a police department,” said John Williams, a prominent civil rights attorney from New Haven who is handling the case. “It’s a culture that’s encouraged at the highest levels and I’m sure there is a sense that the mayor likes it that way. Its a sad state of affairs for a city in Connecticut to have such a lawless department.”
While Mayor Mark Boughton declined to comment on the suit Friday noting that he had yet to read the filing, he defended the department and its officers.
“I’m proud of our officers — they do an outstanding job for the residents of our city,” he said. “We have a great chief and quality men and women who work for the department. I am very proud of the work they do every day.”
The lawsuit alleges Halas illegally searched Perkins’ car in June 2016 and that at least five telephone conversation between Perkins and people arrested by the department were illegally recorded.
Former Detective Roger Brooks, who is also named in the suit, then instructed Halas to contact the state’s insurance commission and the bail company’s insurance provider with information obtained through the search and telephone recordings. The recordings were also provided to Assistant State’s attorney Warren Murray, according to the suit.
“(Halas) made false and defamatory statements concerning the plaintiffs and she pressured (the insurance provider) to terminate his company’s relationship with the plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.
The insurance company canceled Moore Bail Bonds policy after the phone call, which put them out of business for three months until another insurance provider was obtained. Perkins said the level of business Moore Bail Bonds conducts in the city has dropped significantly since the harassment by the officers began.
The allegations contained in the lawsuit also include that LeRose continually failed to enter into the state’s database information on persons bonded out by the company that “absconded” — or fled — reducing the chances the perpetrators would be caught and the company would get its money back.
Perkins has also claimed that officials initially refused to request an extradition for a Danbury man on a $250,000 bond who fled to Canada after being arrested for purportedly strangling his wife and killing the family dog.
Representatives of Moore Bail Bonds had tracked the man to Massachusetts before he fled the country.
While the lawsuit doesn’t allege any racist motivations behind the harassment, it does note that Perkins is “African American” and the officers in question are “Caucasian.”
“Race could be a factor,” Williams said Friday. ”Historically its been a very serious problem in Danbury and from what I’m told there still is.”
Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour, who is black, declined to comment on the racial allegations and the the lawsuit in general noting the pending nature of the filing.
“We certainly don’t agree with the allegations made in the lawsuit but I don’t have any comment,” Boughton said. “I haven’t read it and I would defer to legal counsel.”