HatCityBLOG Throwback Thursday moment: The Chris Belair Edition.

Thursday, January 04, 2024
Time: 6:38 PM

On this month's city council agenda, Mayor Alves will refer to the City Council the promotion of Danbury Police Officer Christopher Belair to the rank of Seargent.

A decade ago, Belair made headlines for his actions during a traffic stop with an undocumented immigrant that was captured on audio; Belair's conduct during the stop resulted in his termination by then-Mayor Mark Boughton.

After a five-year legal battle, a judge ruled against the city's appeal of an arbitration panel's order to reinstate Belair as an officer.

For this throwback Thursday moment, I want to take you back to 2013 to read the news accounts of this incident that reignited tensions in the city and listen to the audio of Belair in his own words during the traffic stop.

Newstimes, March 2013

DANBURY -- "If there weren't four other cops here, I'd beat the s--- out of you."

Those are the recorded words of Danbury Police Officer Chris Belair, whose profanity-laced tirade directed at an undocumented immigrant in March has put his career on the line, led to stiff disciplinary action against three other cops and raised questions about the larger culture of the department.

Belair also faces an allegation that he used unreasonable force against the unidentified motorist. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said the video and audio recordings of the incident have been turned over to the Danbury state's attorney to determine if there are grounds for criminal charges.

Following a nearly daylong series of hearings at City Hall, Boughton suspended the other officers, Rob Madore, Andrew Katkocin and Ryan Howley, without pay for 30, 120, and 180 days, respectively. The mayor said he would decide on Belair's punishment within a few days. All four had been on administrative leave since the incident came to light in April, after Howley, who recorded Belair's diatribe on his cellphone, circulated it among other department members.

The case has refocused attention on the city and its police force, which in the past has been the target of criticism for enforcement efforts that raised tensions among Danbury's large undocumented community. At a time when the nation is moving toward a broader accommodation with undocumented immigrants, the episode had some minority leaders asking if it reflected a broader culture of hostility toward immigrants by the city's police department.

"Whenever you have an incident like this, you wonder what is going on there. Is this profiling?" said state Sen. Andres Ayala, D-Bridgeport, who said he "was alarmed" when he heard the recording.

"It's only one case and I don't know if it's a pattern, but the manner in which this officer approached the person was shocking," Ayala said.

Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury, said the incident could raise fears the city is headed back to the days of 2007 and 2008, when relations with the immigrant community were at a low ebb.

"We've made some inroads and something like this has the opportunity to create that schism again," she said. "But I'm still looking at it that the glass is half-full. Sometimes things have to fall apart so you can build them again."

Latinos constitute approximately 25 percent of the city's 80,000-plus population, and about 16,500 people aren't U.S. citizens, according to the Census Bureau. Boughton said he was "very concerned" about the use-of-force charge against Belair. A video camera on one of the police cruisers indicated that Belair appeared to have struck the motorist, a source familiar with the case said.

Boughton added there was no indication the motorist had been targeted because of his ethnicity or race, and he cautioned against "a rush to judgment."

"This was a good traffic stop. The car was covered in snow and there was no way the police could see who was in it," he said. "It went bad when Officer Belair got there."

[...]

In an interview, Boughton briefly outlined the stop, which occurred March 8.

Madore initially stopped the car for running a red light on White Street, but the driver was intoxicated and came to a halt in the middle of an intersection, necessitating that Katkocin and Howley respond as backups.

The motorist was determined to be driving without a license, so police "used their discretion" and issued him tickets for the red-light violation and unlicensed operation, the mayor said.

"The net effect was the same as if he had been charged," Boughton said. "His car was towed, he was off the road and he was no longer driving."

Sometime during the stop, Belair showed up and began verbally abusing the driver, angrily shouting that his own uncle had been killed by in a traffic accident with an undocumented immigrant who was driving without a license, according to the 85-second recording, which was made by Howley and obtained Thursday by The News-Times.

At another point, Belair said, "But stop being in this country and almost (expletive) killing people, `cause you're too (expletive) stupid to call a ride. All right?" The driver responds, "I'm sorry, man."

"You got here somehow, right, right? You got here somehow," Belair said. "Then walk back home. Take the f----g bus."

Here's audio of the Belair's remarks at the traffic stop.

The CTblogger channel ·

HatCityBLOG Throwback Thursday moment: The charter revision edition


Time: 6:22 PM

In honor of the current behind-the-scenes charter revision lobbying efforts at City Hall, and the increasing pushback and alarm to the radical proposals to fundamentally change the political make-up in the city, here's my interview with then-Democratic Common Council Minority Leader Tom Saddi about the topic of extending the terms of elected office from two years to four years.

Developing...


© 2023 Hat City Blog | READ, WATCH, AND LEARN.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
PEOPLE-POWERED MEDIA.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

INDEPENDENT PARTY OF DANBNRY
DATABASE COMING SOON


“Facebook”“Twitter”“Email”

trans_button
CITY OF DANBURY VIDEO ARCHIVE (Dec 2012-present)

The Mercurial (RIP)
Danbury News Times
Danbury Patch
Danbury Hamlet Hub
Danbury Daily Voice
Tribuna Newspaper
CT News Junkie
CT Capitol Report

10.03.18 (PDF):
"Approval of Danbury Prospect Charter School"

10.30.20 (HatCityBLOG VID): Charter School discussion during 2020 interview with Julie Kushner

2018 (RADIO): WLAD
"State Board of Ed signs off on Danbury charter school proposal"

08.20 (VID): CT-LEAD
"Stand up for Education Justice" Rally

08.20.20 (OP-ED): KUSHNER: "Charter schools are not ‘magic bullet’ to improving Danbury schools"

09.13.20 (OP-ED): CHAPMAN
Candidate for state Senate supports charter school for Danbury

01.15.21 (VID): CT-LEAD
Danbury Prospect Charter School press conference

03.19.21 (OP-ED): CT MIRROR
"Danbury leaders do not want a charter school"

04.01.21 (OP-ED): CT-LEAD:
"Why did Sen. Kushner vote against us?"

05.06.21 (VID): Danbury rally to fully fund public schools

10.07.21 (VID): Danbury City-Wide PTO "Meet the Candidates" education forum

10.07.21 NEWSTIMES
Danbury candidates quarrel over charter school, education funding

01.10.22 NEWSTIMES
"New operator named for Danbury charter school: ‘I’m a huge advocate for parent choice’"

01.10.22 NEWSTIMES
"Some Danbury Democrats ‘open minded’ about charter school after new, CT operator named"

01.21.22 (OP-ED): CT MIRROR
"Lessons from Danbury: Ending the dual process for charter school approval"

02.09.22 NEWSTIMES
"Proposed Danbury charter school won’t open in 2022, governor leaves funding out of budget"

02.18.22 NEWSTIMES:
Danbury residents plead for charter school funds in 9-hour state budget hearing: ‘Just exhausted’

03.05.22 (LTE):
Time has come for Danbury charter school

03.12.22 (OP-ED): TAYLOR
"Why I am excited about the Danbury Charter School"

03.16.22 (LTE):
"Why a Danbury Charter School?"

04.02.22 CT EXAMINER:
"Crowding and a Lack of Options for Danbury Students, But No Agreement on Solutions"

04.04.22 (OP-ED): DCS
"Danbury Charter School plans debut"

04.07.22 (PODCAST): (CEA)
"SENATOR KUSHNER DISCUSSES POINTS OF OPTIMISM FOR DANBURY PUBLIC SCHOOLS"

04.18.22 (VID): CT-LEAD
Protest press conference

04.25.22 (RADIO): WSHU
Latino group call on Connecticut lawmakers to open a Danbury charter school

06.03.22 (OP-ED): KUSHNER:
"Career Academy ‘a great deal for Danbury"

trans_button
On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.

CLICK HERE TO READ/DOWNLOAD MAYOR BOUGHTON'S DEPOSITION

CLICK HERE TO READ/DOWNLOAD MIKE McLACHLAN (then MAYOR CHIEF OF STAFF) DEPOSITION

Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants v.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

(02.25.08) Court docket

(10.24.07) Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Emergency Motion for Protective Order

(09.26.07) Press Release

(12.14.06) Complaint


Barrera v. Boughton, No. 07-01436
(D. Conn. filed Sept. 26, 2007)

(02.25.08) Court Docket

Amended complaint

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss State Law Claims

Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Order on Motion to Dismiss

Defendants' Answer to Amended Complaint

NEW HAVEN REGISTER: Immigrant's 2006 arrest was flawed Danbury mayor testifies

(10.05.07 (VIDEO) Boughton mislead the public about Danbury's involvement in raid

(09.18.07) Yale Law Students expose Danbury involvement in raid

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Interview with Yale Law Students at FOI presser

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 FOI complaint media roundup

City Clerk Jean Natale standing next to skinhead sparks outrage

(10.03.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 rally

(09.29.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 case deepens

Word of raid spread across the country

(09/29/06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 protest news conference

(09/29/06) Immigrant newspaper "El Canillita" gives best account of ICE day labor raid at Kennedy Park


trans_button Santos Family Story
VIDEO: Tereza Pereira's ordeal with ICE agents

VIDEO: Danbury Peace Coalition Immigration Forum (April 2006)
featuring Mayor Boughton and Immigration attorney Philip Berns

VIDEO: 2007 Stop the Raids immigration forum at WCSU

2007: Community protest anti-immigration forum

A tribute to Hispanic Center Director and immigrant activist Maria Cinta Lowe

trans_button


trans_button
2023 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Results:
11.15.23 Recanvass return
(Head Moderator Return Format)

11.07.23: Election night returns
(Head Moderator Return Format)

11.07.23: Initial returns


ESPOSITO FINANCE REPORTS:
Oct 10 2022
Jan 10 2023
Apr 10 2023
Jul 10 2023
Oct 10 2023

ALVES FINANCE REPORTS:
Apr 10 2023
Jul 10 2023
Oct 10 2023

CAMPAIGN SLATE DATABASE
Dem/GOP slate/ballot position

VIDEO: DRTC convention
VIDEO: DDTC conveniton


2021 (ALVES/ESPOSITO)

TOWN COMMITTEES
(VID) DDTC nomination convention
(PDF) DDTC campaign slate flyer

(VID) DRTC nomination convention
(PDF) DRTC campaign slate flyer

FORUMS/DEBATES
(VID) 2021 Danbury City-Wide PTO educational forum

CAMPAIGN FINANCE
First quarter
Alves Apr 10th SEEC filing

Second quarter
Alves Jul 10th SEEC filing
Esposito Jul 10th SEEC filing

Third quarter
Alves Oct 12th SEEC report
Esposito Oct 12th SEEC report

CAMPAIGN MAILERS
Alves "Jan 6th" attack mailer 10.21.21
Esposito "you can't trust Alves" attack mailer 10.20.21
Alves mailer 10.20.21
Alves mailer 09.30.21
Esposito mailer 09.28.21
Alves mailer 09.27.21
Esposito mailer 09.27.21


PAST CAMPAIGN COVERAGE

2005 (BOUGHTON/ESPOSITO)
Danbury 2005 election results
Newstimes Dean Esposito profile (10.25.05)

2007 (BOUGHTON/ABRANTES)
Danbury 2007 election results
(VID) Helana Abrantes TV ad
(VID) BRT tax deferral presser
(VID) Helena Abrantes "Community Forum" interview

2009 (BOUGHTON/GONCALVES)
Danbury 2009 election results
(VID) 2009 Danbury City-Wide PTO educational forum
(VID) 2009 Danbury Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate
(VID) 2009 DDTC nomination convention

2011 (BOUGHTON/TABORSAK)
Danbury 2011 election results
(VID) Saadi/Nero campaign kickoff

2013 (BOUGHTON/NO DTC ENDORSED CANDIDATE/MCALLISTER)
Danbury 2013 election results
(VID) 2013 DDTC nominaiton convention

2015 (BOUGHTON UNCHALLENGED)
Danbury 2015 election results

2017 (BOUGHTON/ALMEIDA)
Danbury 2017 election results
(VID) Al Almeida concession speech
(VID) 2017 Danbury City-Wide PTO educational forum
(VID) Al Almeida nomination acceptance speech

2019 (BOUGHTON/SETARO)
Danbury 2019 election results
(VID) 2019 NewsTimes Editorial Board interview with Mark Boughton and Chris Setaro
(VID) 2019 Danbury City-Wide PTO educational forum
(VID) 2019 Danbury Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate
(VID) 2019 convention endorsement speeches from Mark Boughton and Chris Setaro