Police office Stephen Barone, of Hartford, Connecticut, was caught on video warning a group of men he was “trigger-happy” — and has since been fired, NBC Connecticut reports. The announcement came Wednesday from the Hartford Police Department.
The Facebook video showed the officer, a 10-year member of the department, talking to a group of seven men whom he suspected were trespassing, according to the Hartford Courant.
“If anybody wants to fight or run, I’m a little trigger happy guys, not gonna lie,” Barone can be heard saying in the video that went viral in August. Barone added that he would get paid overtime if he has to shoot someone.
In another video released by the city a month later, Barone is heard listing the inconveniences of shooting someone on duty, as the Hartford Courant relays. He explained that firing his weapon would make him ineligible for overtime, and he would have to sell his cars and move from his “nice house.”
The decision to terminate the officer was the result of both internal investigations and a formal hearing process following the incident — as well as a July traffic incident — Hartford Police Chief David Rosado said in a statement posted to Facebook.
“I did not make this decision lightly. We hold ourselves to high standards, and when we fall short, we take responsibility for it,” Rosado said. “After reviewing the findings related to these two incidents, it’s clear to me that there’s no scenario in which Mr. Barone can return to his duties as a productive member of the Hartford Police Department.”
Before his termination, Sgt. Barone had been demoted to officer and assigned desk duty after an internal affairs report found that his conduct “discredited the Hartford Police Department, and that he violated the code of conduct and had a discourteous attitude,” as NBC Connecticut reports.
The video of the incident was recorded by Rashawn Johnson, who said that he was having drinks on the front porch of a friend’s house when the police arrived and asked what they were doing, as NBC Connecticut reports.
“We weren’t doing nothing wrong,” Johnson said. “We were all just in shock to hear him say that and glad there were other officers there that were more professional about their job.”
Johnson, who stated that he was glad he recorded the incident, was cited with third-degree trespassing. The charges were dropped in September, NBC Connecticut reports. Charges filed against his other friends involved in the incident were dropped as well.
The Hartford Police Department's decision to fire Stephen Barone, the department manager caught on video telling a group of mostly Black and brown youth he was "trigger happy," is the direct result of Hartford residents demanding accountability and Rashawn Johnson’s bravery. pic.twitter.com/kIdM9GNn92— ACLU of Connecticut (@acluct) October 17, 2018
Barone has declined to comment to multiple news outlets that have reached out to him. The Hartford Courant reports that in an internal affairs interview, Barone said that he could have “used a better choice of words” but at the time believed what he said was “effective in maintaining control.” He appeared to regret news coverage of the incident, and stated he was “very apologetic on how this is being portrayed.”