The charges against four East Haven police officers follow a Justice Department report last month that found a pattern of discrimination against Latinos and their supporters.
"We know and understand how difficult police officers' jobs are and how important they are to a free society," U.S. Atty. David B. Fein said at a news conference announcing the charges in East Haven. "It is for their benefit — and society's — that we at the Department of Justice are ever-vigilant in investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by those who have sworn to protect the public."
East Haven police officers Dennis Spaulding, David Cari and Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller were charged with conspiracy, deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice in a federal indictment released Tuesday. The three officers worked the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, often supervised by Miller.
The indictment alleges that the group, "acting under the color of law did knowingly and willfully conspire and agree together and with each other ... to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate members of the East Haven community in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights," the indictment said.
"In simple terms, these defendants behaved like bullies with badges," Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director of the New York office of the FBI, said at the news conference.
Nationwide, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is investigating 17 law enforcement agencies for possible violations, said Xochitl Hinojosa, a department spokeswoman in Washington.