Monday, August 11, 2014
Let's, for the sake of argument just say that in April 1999, you had no idea who Ken Kennedy was. You knew he was on the Hartford City Council, but that was it. Also for the sake of argument, let's say you picked up your newspaper that morning and saw that the Councilman was being accused of murdering a 14 year old on a street in Hartford.
Of course you couldn't know the facts because the incident had just occurred and all you could possibly have known was that a 14 year old was dead.
Now lets put everything that you knew about the 14 year old aside , no prejudged conclusions, just base your decision and opinions on Kennedy murdering a 14 year old. You may learn later that day through media accounts and talking to people that you know that Kennedy actually had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
You also learn that Kennedy had been on a side street at 2 or 3 in the morning and saw one of his neighbors being approached by a couple of young men. Kennedy feared that his neighbor may have been about to become a victim of a car jacking. Although Kennedy was not a Police Officer, he felt he had the obligation to act to protect his neighbor.
Kennedy, who had been trained in the use of deadly force and the responsibility of using that force in order to obtain his pistol permit, realized the awesome responsibility he was about to face. As he stepped out of his car, Kennedy yelled for the young men to stop. One of the men pulled out an item that Kennedy believed to be a handgun. As the man pointed it at Kennedy, the Councilman was in fear of his own life. The young man turned and began to run away, still pointing the believed gun at Kennedy. Kennedy opened fire and struck and killed the 14 year old.
From there Kennedy's life began to immediately unravel. The official investigation began, Hartford Police, State Police, Chief State's Attorney and eventually the FBI and Justice Department because of the outcry from the public. Kennedy knew from being a lawyer that justice would prevail, the same thing that the people in the streets now calling him a murderer were hoping for.
After hours and hours of investigation and testimony, the word started trickling in from every agency involved. Kennedy's taking of a human life was justified under the circumstances.
New London State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane, who was asked to investigate this racially charged case, announced on Wednesday that there are no grounds for prosecuting Mr.Kennedy. Mr. Kane's 201-page report contains testimony by several witnesses to the shooting as well as evidence gathered by state Public Safety Commissioner Henry C. Lee, a renowned forensic scientist.
Critical parts of Mr. Kennedy's story are corroborated by other witnesses.
This fictional story mirrors a sad chapter in Hartford's history. The shooting of a 14 year old by a police officer that sparked unrest in the community. For some reason, Mr. Kennedy who is also a lawyer ,is unwilling or unable to accept the decisions in the shooting case and continues to re-open the wound, even though every one involved agreed that the actions of the Officer were justified.
Kennedy never seems to report the factual evidence, just the part that keeps the community inflamed.
The officer , as well as his fellow officers on the streets that night had been informed over the radio of a gang of young men that had attempted to pistol whip and car jack people in the Northend that night. A description of the car had been broadcast and one officer spotted the vehicle . He chased what he believed was the suspect vehicle , the young men bailed and ran from the vehicle. One suspect turned and pointed what the officer believed was a gun at the officer.
The officer perceived a threat from the facsimile weapon and used deadly force. Only after the shooting was the look alike weapon found to be a cigarette lighter shaped like a silver handgun.What was the alternative? Should the officer have waited until he actually saw the flash of a bullet being fired before he reacted. I think most logical people would agree that it would be a little too late for the officer's safety at that point.
Here is a link to a Courant story after the incident
You might be asking why this fictional story and headline about Councilman Kennedy is important today. At tonight's City Council meeting , Kennedy was the author of a resolution trying to keep the Cintron Vaughn Federal Consent decree in place. Why I am not sure, other than to continues to racially divide the City. The decree came out of the 1960's and is extremely outdated. If HPD went by the letter of the decree, there would be no police K-9's...banned. HPD would still be using 38mm revolvers and many other outdated facets of modern day police.
The other issue is that the shooting detailed above came 30 years after the original consent decree. But true to form, Kennedy never misses an opportunity to drive the wedge between HPD and our neighbors or take an opportunity to show his hatred toward our Police Department. And yes I know hatred is a strong word, but in this case it fits..
In any urban City ,police/community relations are fragile at best, but leaders don't ignore what happens, rather they use it as tools to build links to the community and correct what is wrong. I am not aware of one policy that Councilman Kennedy or his Council colleagues have put forth to help with positive change at HPD. Oh yeah, he did question the size of the engines in new cruisers. I hear a lot of people in the community commenting that they trust our cops more now knowing they don't have corvette engines under the hood.
And the programs that would build better community relations, Kennedy and his colleagues do everything to kill them. The Faith Based Initiative which originally showed great promise under Chief Rovella, was kidnapped back by the Council, and is now on life support, if not already declared dead. The PAL program is still moving forward, mostly because Rovella won't let City Hall grab it from him, and the private sector is making it happen with their funding and support.
And during Kennedy's tirade at the Council meeting tonight on why he still wants to crucify an officer that was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 1999 shooting, his explanation was ludicrous. Kennedy complains that the makeup of HPD still does not represent the demographics of Hartford.
Well who's fault is that? Even if HPD could identify 50 to 100 stellar candidates today, there is no money to hire them. I am told that there are over 400 decent applications at City Hall that are just sitting there, no action on them, because there is no money to hire officers.. Of those 400 applications, approximately 17% are Hartford residents and minorities.
So where does the blame lie Councilman Kennedy? The Council tonight voted to spend several million dollars around the proposed Rock Cats stadium development area. Where is that money coming from in a broke City and if Kennedy and his colleagues weren't talking out of both sides of their mouths, a couple million dollars could hire quite a few police officers that look like their neighbors in the City
I can promise you that those same applications that you are letting age in the HR Department will be making great police officers in Avon , Glastonbury, South Windsor and other neighboring towns who will grab them up as we let them slip through our fingers because you want to relive the past and not move toward the future.