A Bridgeport, Connecticut police officer has been suspended without pay for 20 days after cell phone video showed him striking a 17-year-old in the head with his gun.
Officer Gianni Capozziello was suspended after an investigation found that he used excessive force during the arrest on Aug. 16, 2019.
According to Capozziello’s police report regarding the arrest, he was on a routine patrol in the area when he saw a red car matching the description of a stolen vehicle. He said he confirmed the vehicle was stolen after performing a license plate check and waited for backup.
Capozziello says after following the vehicle for a while he activated his lights and “began conducting a felony stop with my department issued pistol unholstered and at the … ready.”
“I gave multiple verbal commands to the operator to stick his hands out the window,” Capozziello wrote in his report. “I observed the operator moving around and ducking under the seat in the vehicle and popping his head up while turning back to face me multiple times.”
When the driver exited the vehicle, Capozziello said he feared the 17-year-old was “reaching for a weapon as he turned away from me in (a) quick manner with his right side facing away from me and (I was) no longer able to see his right hand.”
Capozziello said grabbed the teen’s wrist, and the boy “immediately began pulling away from me.”
“Fearing (he) was reaching for a weapon with his right hand and unable to holster my department issued pistol … I utilized the magazine well area of my pistol as an emergency impact weapon,” the officer wrote in his report.
In the cell phone video, Capozziello is seen walking up to the teen with his gun pointed at him, and then hitting him in the back of the head with the butt of his gun within seconds of exiting his vehicle.
Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia suspended Capozziello after an investigation by the city’s Office of Internal Affairs found he violated the Police Department’s regulation against excessive use of force.
This is the second time in a month that Capozziello has been suspended without pay for using excessive force.
On Sept. 23, the city’s Board of Police Commissioners voted to suspend Capozziello for one day for violating the excessive force use regulation in connection with the Tasering of a 17-year-old boy in June 2018.