A dash cam video just released by Meriden police shows former Officer Brian Lawlor beating a suspect in September 2005. It was the key evidence in the criminal case against Lawlor that wrapped up last week.
The tape shows Lawlor crashing into suspect Alexis Hernandez's car after a chase. Lawlor then gets out of his cruiser with his gun drawn and approaches Hernandez.
Police Chief Jeffry Cossette says Lawlor then pistol-punched Hernandez in the head 13 times, and pulled him out of his car as he showed no resistance. The beating continued from there, with Lawlor saying "That was me being gentle you (expletive)" after Hernandez was handcuffed.
Lawlor pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge last week in exchange for more serious charges being dropped in the case. The incident cost him his career. Lawlor was fired by Meriden police in December 2005. He appealed but did not get his job back.
Lawlor's actions violated police procedures and amounted to excessive force, said Cossette.
"Officers are trained to take cover, order the suspect out of the vehicle," said Cossette. "A poor tactical method is to approach the vehicle as he did and then to deliver pistol punches to the head in the manner that he did is unacceptable."
Lawlor's defense attorney believes the force was justified.
"The state deciding to prosecute in this instance sends a paradoxical message to police officers," Norm Pattis, Lawlor's attorney, said. "That is, in close cases you're better off shooting to kill because when you do that, no one can raise questions thereafter about what your conduct was and you keep your job."
Cossette called the excessive use of force an isolated incident. He's now showing the video to his officers as a lesson of what not to do.