Wallingford police officer suspended for punching handcuffed man

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WALLINGFORD — A police officer served a two-week suspension last month after he reportedly punched a handcuffed subject in the head.

Officer Joseph Smith received the suspension and loss of field training duties for excessive use of force.

According to a letter of discipline by Chief William Wright, Smith was one of several officers who responded to a domestic violence incident on Ward Street on June 14. 

Gary Joseph King, 26, reportedly resisted the officers’ efforts to gain control of him. 

The letter states that once King was handcuffed and officers were attempting to get him into the rear seat of the cruiser, Smith leaned into the vehicle, grabbed King by the face and punched him close-fisted on the side of the head, which rendered him unconscious.  

The incident was corroborated by cruiser-recorded video, according to the letter. The Record-Journal filed a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the video. 

During the internal investigation, state certified use-of-force instructors said the blow to King’s head was excessive and bordered on criminal assault.

Smith was suspended from Oct. 1 to Oct. 12. He was unavailable for comment. Police officials said Wednesday that Smith currently is out on workers’ compensation.

Smith has been with the Wallingford police department for nine years, and received a Police Officer of the Year Award from the local Elks lodge in November 2017.

Larry Dorman, public affairs coordinator with Smith’s union, AFSCME Council 4, issued a statement but did not address the specifics of the incident involving the officer.

“As a police force and as a union,” Dorman’s statement said, “we want to move forward and continue fulfilling our sworn duty to protect and serve the citizens of Wallingford."

King was charged with felony assault of public safety personnel, as well as use, possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, interfering with an officer/resisting arrest, second-degree breach of peace and failure to comply with a fingerprint request. He is free on a promise to appear and is due back in Meriden Superior Court on Dec. 17. 



Twitter: @LCTakores


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