MERIDEN, Conn. — Just after 7:30 p.m. on September 19, 2015, Meriden police officers John Slepski and John Slezak responded to report of an intoxicated man lying in the middle of the road on Arch Parkway. A dash camera from Slepski’s police cruiser captured the interaction between the officers and the man and prompted an investigation into their conduct that evening.
An internal affairs investigation into the incident concluded with Officer Slepski being suspended without pay for 60 days and Officer Slezak suspended without pay for five days.
On the video, Slepski can be heard using profanity numerous times and as he first approaches the subject he says to Slezak, “I think we should just pop him.”
Slezak can be heard saying, “He’s fine, he just wants a ride to the hospital.”
In other statements made on the video, Slezak tells the subject he should be ashamed, and Slepski calls him derogatory names and takes out his pepper spray saying he will spray him if he doesn’t move to the side of the road.
During the investigation, Slepski and Slezak said pepper spray was never deployed, and while it sounds as if it was on the video, Slepski said he imitated the sound himself in an effort to get the man to move. The chief said the simple action of taking the pepper spray out was an improper use of force since the man was not combative. The video also shows both men removing their batons, also an improper use of force according to the chief.
In a disciplinary letter to Slepski, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said, “Your conduct while acting as a Meriden Police Officer is disgraceful. Your dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment of this citizen in need of medical attention sickens me. Your actions did not perpetuate the mission of the Meriden Police Department.”
In the letter to Slezak, Chief Cossette said, “Your conduct while acting as a Meriden Police Officer is unacceptable. If a fellow officer is behaving in a demeaning and demoralizing way toward a citizen, you have a Duty to Act.”
Meriden Police say Slepski has been with the department for 17 years and has never received disciplinary action before. Slezak has been with the department for eight years and this is his first time being disciplined as well.
The police union says Slezak is filing a grievance over his suspension.