Conn. Troopers Probe Racist Video, Photo

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut state police are investigating whether a racist photograph and video distributed to several people in their forensic laboratory earlier this year came from someone inside the department.

Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher III ordered the investigation Tuesday after learning about the materials, which were distributed by e-mails sent from a private account, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman.

“We do hold our troopers to a very high standard,” Vance said. “Troopers are expected to behave and be on their best behavior 24 hours a day.”

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Danaher learned of the video and photograph, which were distributed in February, after one of the recipients, Trooper Neverill Coleman, told his supervisor on Tuesday, Vance said. It was not clear why Coleman, who is black and works at the forensic lab, waited five months to come forward. He did not return a message left at his office Wednesday.

The photograph shows a black man lying on a street surrounded by pieces of watermelon and a bucket of chicken. The headline on the e-mail reads “Fatal overdose.” The video is of a young white girl with a lisp, seated at a table and repeating racial slurs with the encouragement of two off-camera adults. The e-mail’s subject line is, “Little girl w/ a speech problem.”

The photograph and video were distributed about a week after Lt. David Rice replaced Sgt. Andrew Crumbie as head of the lab. Crumbie, who is black, has alleged he was replaced because of racial discrimination.

Vance said investigators are looking into whether Rice was aware of and received the e-mails. State police declined to release the names of the other troopers and staff who are under investigation, including the person they suspect sent the e-mails.

Crumbie filed two complaints with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities last month. In his complaints, which remain pending, he accuses the Department of Public Safety and M. Lisa Moody, the governor’s chief of staff, of discrimination.

Crumbie, who did not receive the e-mails, said Wednesday that they are indicative of the atmosphere within the state police.

“I think what it shows is that there is a certain level of tolerance when it comes to behavior that may be racially insensitive,” he said.

Crumbie has been transferred to the state fire marshal’s office, but said he is out on sick leave pending the outcome of his discrimination cases.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)