Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Was the cop drunk?

Hamden cop charged in road rage dispute
Ann DeMatteo, Assistant Metro Editor, The New Haven Register
06/19/2007

An off-duty Hamden police officer whose father is the Milford police chief was arrested in New Haven over the weekend, allegedly for getting into a road-rage beef with a woman.

New Haven police charged the officer, Michael Mello, 28, with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace after he allegedly slapped the driver in the face after she told him to move his car, which was in front of hers, a New Haven police spokeswoman said.

"I'm not happy to hear that one of our people has been arrested on those charges," Hamden Police Chief Thomas J. Wydra said Monday. "His conduct will be comprehensively investigated and we'll determine if he violated any department regulations."

Wydra said Michael Mello would not comment. Mello's father, Milford Police Chief Keith Mello, declined comment.

"It's a private matter, involving my son. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on it," the Milford chief said.

Michael Mello has been a Hamden officer 2½ years and was an officer in Meriden previously. He is still on the job, as the department had just learned about the charges, Wydra said. An internal probe would have to be concluded before any departmental charges would be lodged if it's determined that Mello violated department rules. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in New Haven Friday.

According to New Haven police spokeswoman Bonnie Posick, the incident occurred at 2:15 a.m. Sunday at College Street and North Frontage Road. The woman told police she was stopped at a red light, which then turned green while the three male occupants of the car ahead of her exited that vehicle and switched positions.

She beeped her horn and yelled at them to go, then Mello approached her vehicle, yelled at her and struck the left side of her face with an open hand, the woman reported to police. She refused medical attention, Posick said.

But Mello told New Haven police that he had exited his vehicle and when he did so, the operator of the car behind him yelled at him and he approached the vehicle. He told police that the woman hit him and began pushing him away and that he didn't hit her, but pushed her hand back into the vehicle.

Posick said the report reflects that the woman sitting in the passenger seat of the woman's car related the same story as the woman, and that one of the passengers in Mello's car described the incident the same way Mello did. Another passenger in Mello's car said he didn't see anything.

A New Haven police supervisor, Lt. Chris Kelly, observed the incident, Posick said.

The woman in the car, Jessica Hill, 25, of Bridgeport, said Monday that she had gone out for dinner and dancing with her friend to The Playwright and Hula Hanks. She said she had only two drinks from their arrival in New Haven at 5 p.m. to the time she left the city.

She said she was in the left turn lane, waiting at a stop light, when she saw the man in front of her get out of the car. She said she beeped her horn and yelled at him to go.

"I said, ‘Can you get out of my way?' I beeped. I don't know what he yelled back. He walked to my car and said, ‘What did you say to me?'" Hill said. She said she responded that she told him to go. "He smacked me on the left side of my face. I was so shocked. Within 10 seconds of him hitting me and walking back to his car, a cop pulled him over," Hill said.

Ken Hill, her father, said they went to Yale-New Haven Hospital Sunday morning because her neck hurt. She was prescribed painkillers and a muscle relaxant. Jessica Hill said she pulled a muscle.

"When he smacked me, my head went so far to the right," she said.

Ken Hill said he thought Mello should be suspended for his actions.


Ann DeMatteo can be reached at adematteo@nhregister.com or 789-5716. Register reporter Phil Helsel contributed to this story.

* * * *

I was attacked on my own property in Connecticut during an attempted strong arm robbery, a mugging. I refused to give up my wallet and felt I was forced to use pepper spray to end the attack and the injuries I was sustaining. I was arrested and charged with breach of peace and assault 3rd. I wasn't given any deals and had to go to trial to avoid a year and a half in prison. The judge didn't care that I had been attacked, he said I "overreacted" to having been attacked, and sentenced me to a year in prison, 3 years probation. The cop in the above story was trying to avoid trouble as I was, he caused it. So, based on what happened to me, the cop should be sentenced to a year in prison, 3 years probation.

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