Wallingford, CT — On June 14th, Gary Joseph King had gotten into an argument at his house which prompted a neighbor to call the police. Several officers arrived to the call that night and placed King in handcuffs at which point Officer Joseph Smith lost his temper and began a disturbing assault on the handcuffed man. For assaulting a handcuffed man and knocking him unconscious in the process, Smith was given a two week vacation in the form of a suspension.
According to police, they responded to King’s location that night because a neighbor had called them to report loud fighting. According to police, when they arrived on the scene, King allegedly approached them with a knife. However, this is not visible from the video they released. Also, if he was truly threatening officers with a knife, rest assured, he would’ve been killed.
Despite the allegations of the knife, officers were able to get King into handcuffs easily and walked him to the car. As police are walking him to the car, King keeps asking, “why are you arresting me?”
Instead of answering him, however, officer Smith just keeps shoving the seemingly intoxicated man into the back of the cruiser. King is wobbling back and forth during this interaction but appears not to be a threat as he is in handcuffs.
As the video shows, Smith doesn’t ask other officers for assistance with getting King into the car. Instead, he appears to choke King, shove him around and punches him. During the struggle, King is knocked unconscious by Smith. Even after a handcuffed King was knocked unconscious, Smith squeezes his face with both hands in an odd display.
As he lays there unconscious, an officer claimed King headbutted him as well. The alleged headbutt is not visible in the video.
Wallingford Police Chief William Wright said his officers handled the situation appropriately that night, until Smith assaulted King.
“Everything up until the strike, everything is appropriate,” Wright said, “and then thereafter the strike, everything is appropriate… They lended the due care that was necessary. It was that moment in time that, in an attempt to finally gain control of the situation, that the strike to the head took place that we can’t condone.”
Smith, who was officer of the year in 2017, did not report the incident. Instead, the shift commander reviewed the video that night and showed Wright the next day.
As My Record Journal reports:
Wright said he reviewed the video with other police officials, and then contacted the New Haven Judicial District prosecutor’s office, which sent an investigator to review the video.
The investigator recommended that the Connecticut State Police review the video.
The state police decided, Wright said, that there was no criminal intent by Smith to harm King and referred the investigation back to Wallingford police, where two officers state-certified in use of force concluded that the strike by Smith was excessive.
“Through their instruction, it’s consistently held that you never, ever, ever, strike anyone in the head,” Wright said. “Even in this case where (King) is fighting with them.”
King’s sister took to Facebook to express her feelings over the video which she says makes her sick.
“My brother deserves way more respect than what he got that night, they treated him like he was a f***** slave,” she wrote.
Perhaps King did deserve to go to jail that night, and perhaps he deserves to serve some time. But this is supposed to be determined in a court of law. Now, however, because Smith could not control his temper, King will likely file a lawsuit and the taxpayers—not officer Smith—will be held liable for this clear case of police brutality.