U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut
(203) 821-3700
February 5, 2015

Two Former Bridgeport Police Officers Sentenced to Prison for Using Unreasonable Force During Arrest

Deirdre M, Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that two former Bridgeport Police officers were sentenced today in Bridgeport federal court for violating an individual’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during the course of an arrest. U.S. District Judge Jeffery Alker Meyer sentenced both ELSON MORALES, 43, and JOSEPH LAWLOR, 41, to three months of imprisonment and six months of supervised release.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on May 20, 2011, officers MORALES and LAWLOR engaged in a high speed chase of a van driven by an individual who was suspected of having a firearm and had failed to stop at traffic stop. After a further foot pursuit in Beardsley Park in Bridgeport, the individual was apprehended by MORALES who used his department-issued Taser to incapacitate the individual. Despite the fact the individual was on the ground and effectively incapacitated by the initial use of the Taser, MORALES deployed the Taser a second time and LAWLOR kicked the individual several times.

“The use of unreasonable force is illegal,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “When a police officer uses unreasonable force, he both violates the victim’s civil rights and undermines the community’s trust in law enforcement. The vast majority of Bridgeport Police Department members, and all law enforcement officers, are public servants who dedicate their lives to protecting the public. However, any police officer who crosses the line during an arrest risks federal prosecution and, as this case demonstrates, incarceration.”

On June 10, 2014, MORALES and LAWLOR each pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law MORALES and LAWLOR have resigned from the Bridgeport Police Department.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anastasia E. King and David E. Novick.

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