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Norwalk Police union offers more video evidence of Duff’s visit

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), right takes questions on July 24 from Officer Mark Suda, left, and other officer in Norwalk Police headquarters. The shot is from a video taken by a police officer, and has been adjusted to present a horizontal view.

NORWALK, Conn. — There’s more video of the July 24 interaction between State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and Norwalk Police officers.

Lt. David O’Connor, police union president, released the video Monday. It was taken by an officer attending the meeting, who had not initially been invited. O’Connor said he was releasing it to support his contention that the interaction was civil. It captures the tone of the exchanges between Duff and the officers.

Video at end of story

Duff did not reply to an email giving him a link to the video and asking for comment.

Duff has said that he arrived at police headquarters to mee with union leadership, officers in the hallway greeted him by saying, “What the f**k is he doing here?”

This is not in the video. O’Connor explained that the union’s executive board began its meeting before Duff arrived. Then Duff joined them.

Duff claims that officers “stormed” the room where he was to meet union leaders. About eight officers arrived wanting to attend and were permitted to, O’Connor said.  One of those officers used his iPhone to capture the video provided.

The 15-minute video starts after Duff arrived and ends before the meeting concludes. It shows Duff being questioned by an officer about the police accountability bill, and Duff explaining elements of the qualified immunity clauses and changes that had developed in different versions.

The conversation is calm, although an officer interrupts the primary speaker at about three minutes in, interjecting in a hot tone that the bill was being crafted for “purely emotional” reasons.

The officer questioning Duff asked for a reason the bill crafted in the first place. Duff said the Judiciary Committee originally crafted it. The officer asked Duff why he supported it.

“Because of the fact that we have come together in what I think is a bill that is a decent compromise of all the issues that were out there,” Duff replied.

The officer asked for the issues.

“All the issues that are out there from the standpoint of the issues that people brought to us as they felt that it was necessary to put into a police accountability bill,” Duff replied.

“I feel like we’re lacking empirical proof, empirical evidence that shows …  that there’s a reason to enact legislation,” the officer replied. “There’s no empirical evidence that shows that there’s an epidemic of willful wanton illegal behavior going on in Connecticut.  We have a couple of outlying incidents in the far corners of the country.”

Connecticut has reduced officer and suspect injuries and Norwalk Police “have adopted body cams willingly and they’re acting in our favor, more so than not,” the officer continued. “We’ve taken on new training over the past 10 years. We’ve done everything the public’s asked of us, and now we’re being handed this. We’re stripped of a level of immunity seemingly for no reason.”

“I’m not sure why anybody would be worried about any of this, any of these sections,” Duff replied. Every part except the qualified immunity is bipartisan, he said, and “as long as somebody is not doing something illegal, willful or malicious, and that doesn’t violate (somebody’s) basic constitutional rights, they’re fine. So I believe that was a fair compromise on a section that was important to a number of people in the legislature.”

The officer continued to argue against the legislation, asserting that “judicial activists will hold our livelihood in jeopardy unnecessarily.”

“This is just a real kick in the nuts, when we’ve been doing everything we can over the past 10 years since Ferguson is trying to do the right thing,” the officer said. “And have been really successful doing the right thing we’ve lowered every type of liability there can be across the board. And we’re performing better in more complex circumstances in the divided environment.”
He continued, “And then we get this, in Connecticut, where we are, you probably know, the tip of the spear with this stuff. We’re not in the Midwest, we’re not the south, we’re not the Southwest, we’re doing a better job here. crime has been lower. Violent crime is like non existent in Norwalk now. We’re the sixth largest municipality in the state, to get this is, you know, guys want to leave the job now. And the guys like really are invested in this type of work. So it’s really disheartening that you support this.”

Investigation continues

Duff has said he was “spat at.” The security camera video released by the Norwalk Police Department last week shows Officer Mike Silva opening a side door and near where Duff is standing, and at least making a spitting motion toward the concrete.

Other camera angles show Silva walking out into the parking lot as if he were leaving, about two minutes earlier, spotting Duff’s car and then walking back into the building. Then he comes out the side and looks at Duff before making the spitting gesture.

Duff’s account of this was that Silva “looked at me in a menacing manner, and spit at me.” He describes “about twenty officers” behind Silva. It’s difficult to see officers behind Silva in the video, as there are reflections on the glass.

The video, which does not contain audio, shows Sgt. Sal Calise opening the door just after Silva’s action and talking to Duff.

“I opened the door and said ‘Bob, whatever you guys are doing over here, I don’t care, just take it by your car, because you’re inciting these guys and they’re going to say something stupid,’” Calise explained recently.

Calise said Duff pointed at him and said, “So you’re throwing me out.”

Calise said he responded, “I’m not throwing you out. I’m just asking you to take it to your car, because these guys are upset and they’re going to say something stupid.”

Duff’s account is that he was “dumbfounded” by Calise’ remarks, and then as he was being escorted to his car, “roughly thirty officers came out from the back of the police station to the public parking lot where my car was located… it looked as if they were going to surround my car.”

The video shows 12 officers come out, and Calise motion for them to stay on the sidewalk.

Calise said recently that another officer “made a gesture” in Duff’s direction. He remained behind in the visitor parking lot and made the move towards Duff’s disappearing car.

Video shows a string of officers parading back into the building, then one coming along behind them.

“The description of events as relayed by officers differs a bit from Sen Duff’s account, but regardless, it is clear that the behavior of some was not acceptable as everyone deserves to be treated respectfully,” Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said recently. “I can appreciate that Sen Duff felt disrespected by some members of the department when he visited the union meeting that Friday.”

Lt. Tom Roncinske has taken over the investigation. Although disciplinary measures are usually not publicized, the public will be informed of the disciplinary measures taken in this case, Kulhawik said.

Story copy edited at 2:44 p.m.; Correction, 8:30 p.m.: Chief Thomas Kulhawik said disciplinary measures will be made public.



18 responses to “Norwalk Police union offers more video evidence of Duff’s visit”

  1. M Murray

    Misrepresentation or outright lie #1-Duff’s account of this was that Silva “looked at me in a menacing manner, and spit at me. watch the video. Officer Silva’s head was directly facing the ground when he made a spitting gesture.
    Misrepresentation #2- watch the video. “roughly thirty officers came out from the back of the police station to the public parking lot where my car was located… it looked as if they were going to surround my car.”
    The video shows 12 officers come out, and Calise motion for them to stay on the sidewalk.

    Union President O’Connor- please save a copy of this article. The quote “Although disciplinary measures are usually not publicized, the public will be informed of the disciplinary measures taken in this case, he said.” by Chief Kulhawik is very important. It appears extremely prejudicial in that he seems to be indicating disciplinary measures in this case. The state labor board takes a very dim view of a Chief making a decision that disciplinary action will take place before the internal investigation is complete. Such a statement not only indicates that his decision to impose discipline is already made, but it is an implication from the Chief tto the subordinate individual doing the internal investigation that he must find a violation so the Chief can impose such discipline.

    1. Clarification: The comment about discipline came from Tom Roncinske.

    2. Apparently, I erred. That comment about disciplinary measures came from Chief Kulhawik.

  2. Bryan Meek

    At this point an apology from Duff would be hollow and pointless. The guy needs to resign and take his war on police elsewhere.

  3. Peter Torrano

    Looked like any town hall meeting I’ve ever been to. People seated a respectful and non-threatening distance away from the speaker. Nobody yelling or being verbally or physically abusive. Big “nothing burger”.

    Now compare that to what officers face on a daily basis. Violent individuals, drugged out criminals, domestic violence, child abuse cases, car wrecks with injury or death, shootings, assaults, hostage situations, medical emergencies and riot control.

    But Duff had to endure a civil discourse with people he had just torpedoed making their job even harder. What a trooper! What a hero! What a liar!

  4. DrewT

    I’m not sure if we need any more evidence or an “Investigation” by the Internal Affairs division and waste more time, effort and money. This is a pretty open and shut case. BOB DUFF LIED PERIOD!!! His story doesn’t hold any merit. In blatant terms he was the instigator and knew by going to the police station was not going to be a peaceful exchange. He was not acting as an ordinary citizen. He came as the joke State Senator (for now) and wanted to pump his ego and his chest. Bob not only needs to apologize but should resign for the situation he has created and division and anger. The people of Norwalk are sickened by this latest stunt by our Senator who has stopped representing us. If he doesn’t leave on his own the voters will send him packing this November!!! Good Bye Bobby!!!

  5. J. Calvo

    I have to agree with everything every officer in that room said!.

  6. John ONeill

    As disgraceful as Duff’s misrepresentations (some would say outright lies, but hey he’s a politician) what I find most unpalatable (as in throwing up) is the blind support given to Duff by other state officials. They should all look in the mirror and publicly apologize. There’s no excuse for their misguided statements in current social climate. To those Church leaders who came to Duff’s defense: Shame on you for selling out your religious positions for political gain. I think we have an apology coming from you as well. You would be better served pushing Duff and company to get off their butts and get fair educational aid for our starved public schools..ECS funding for our disadvantaged schools and students is a travesty.

  7. Michael McGuire

    The comments by the officers during the meeting were reasonable, well thought out, showed a detailed understanding of the bill and its impact on the officers and the citizens.

    These are the pros Senator Duff should have listened to, in addition to those he actually consulted, prior to writing this bill.

    Do I believe I’m safer now with this bill in place? No, I feel less safe.

    Perhaps there should be a bill that requires all politicians to wear body cameras and record all their political dealings.

  8. Pjohnson

    You can’t tell Bob Duff how he reacted to what he felt was intimidating to him at that specific moment. You may not even feel the police officer that spit at the ground meant something by it towards Bob Duff. But that can mean something to the person it’s happening to. I’m pretty sure someone has a video of the things that happened that Bob reported, that we will never see.


    Oh boy, the lies become greater and greater. Norwalk deserves better.

  10. Bryan Meek

    In other news, we just learned that per Executive orders King Ned has just required any child being sent to the schools nurse to not be readmitted to the building without a physicians check up and sign-off on their condition.

    So, if your child has a stomach ache from not eating or eating too much, they’ll be sent home. Then you need to go to your pediatrician for a checkup where they could be exposed to other children who might actually be sick.

    The question begs, when will Duff’s feelings be sufficiently healed so he can get back to his job which is supposed to preclude a tyrannical dictator from subjugating us with very little basis for public health concern any longer as evident by the scientific data which shows the curve having been flat for 3 months.

  11. Victor Cavallo

    What “hot tone”, Nancy? It’s the room acoustics that’s emphasizing their deep voices. These guys are trained on how to harvest facts and answers in their line of work. They’re in a panic about their profession, livelihoods and lives. They’re facing newly-imposed personal liability, insurance non-renewals, potential personal and family bankruptcies, virtual life-time umbilical attachments to shrinks and unbridled threats of decertification- which would then disqualify them from even getting a job as security guards. Yes, they’re larger in stature and have more testosterone than the guy they’re wanting answers from but he isn’t providing any. I see where his delicate sensibilities may have been offended but as an elected official who’s defenestrated a large key stakeholder group in this fiasco, he’s got some ‘splainin to do. They shouldn’t be judged as if this were a domestic dispute between a husband and a wife.

    Many of these guys will probably bolt or retire rather than face Duff’s hardships. So you can say that Duff did better than defund police departments. He’s depopulating them.

  12. James Cahn

    Let’s put aside the disconnect between Bob Duff’s account of what happened here and what seems to be shown in the videos which have been released.

    The officers in this meeting raise coherent, reasonable, compelling contextual questions. I’m still interested in actual responses from Bob Duff to these questions. Answers of higher quality than, I support this “(b)ecause of the fact that we have come together in what I think is a bill that is a decent compromise of all the issues that were out there…from the standpoint of the issues that people brought to us as they felt that it was necessary to put into a police accountability bill…” That’s a barely decipherable, intellectually lazy non-answer which is neither articulable nor quantifiable. What specific issues was this trying to resolve?

    I also find the defense that essentially, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear” an intriguing insight into Bob Duff’s thought process. I wouldn’t consent to a police search of my property on that basis. If that idea is wrong when it’s used as a defense of ridiculous “stop and frisk” policies (and it is,) it’s wrong here, too. Assuming the desirability of consistency beyond ideology, why would we allow or desire legislation on the same suggestion? And to the questioning officer’s point, if by and large there doesn’t seem to be evidence of out-of-control police in Connecticut, what is the necessity for the legislation? I honestly don’t know. I haven’t seen the data. Perhaps Bob Duff was presented with data that showed an urgent need for this legislation. If that was the case, I’d be interested to also review the data.

    Police accountability is of non-negotiable importance to protect the rights of every single community member. If, in your capacity as a police officer, you violate the rights of someone you should be held to full account. If Connecticut cops are totally out of control and I’m unaware of it, I’d be more than happy to examine stripping them of their QA to add a layer of accountability. If the last line of defense between the rights of citizens and an out of control police force is the threat of personal liability, fine.

    If, on the other hand and as suggested (and seems to be the case) by the questioning union membership, police are open to ongoing training, generally tend to agree that some reforms are needed and necessary, are aware of the issues and are making a conscious, proactive effort to address community oriented concerns in their policing what is the purpose and intent of putting them in a position of having lost their QA? I think the summary question of this from the police is, “We are already working really hard to do a really hard job and we’re trying our best to do it with some awareness that we’re already under increased scrutiny. What is the indended purpose in making our job even harder?”

    It’s curious that Bob Duff seems to want to be seen as an advocate for “accountability” yet seems uncomfortable or imagines himself “treated disrespectfully” when he is, himself, held to account.

  13. Mike O’Reilly

    Who are you going to believe me or Your lying eyes.

    What Duff has bought us is a group of highly qualified officers asking themselves “Why would I possibly want to put up with this any longer?

    Police officers

    Please hold off a little longer before turning in your papers. See if the tide changes in November.

  14. I Wore the Uniform – Patriot

    It’s simple. Perspective. That’s what we have here. Perspective. Why are checks and balances ever necessary? The facts … did not change. But the perspectives did. It’s simple.

  15. Babar Sheikh

    Holding officers to a higher standard should be the norm, not giving them extra protections.

  16. Tysen Canevari

    We shouldnt be harping on the police. We should be clamping down on those that break the law which begins the conflicts the cops must face daily. When the police say hands in the air put your hands in the air! We dont walk in their shoes. Not easy to walk up to a car full of bad guys and not be nervous. Any profession will have bad apples. Look at the church. Yet people keep giving them money and showing up. I think CT should look over this bill again. After watching David Orr on tape I have to agree that CT cops dont deserve the full spectrum of what the bill entails.

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