By Minyvonne Burke, NBC News
A Connecticut police officer was fired Wednesday after he was caught on video warning a group of young people not to run or “do anything stupid” because he was “trigger-happy.”
Hartford Chief of Police David Rosado said Officer Stephen Barone was fired following an internal investigation into the August video and a separate traffic incident in July.
“Our success as a police department depends on our relationship with the community we serve,” Rosado said in a statement on Facebook. “Every day, the men and women of the Hartford Police Department are out doing good police work with professionalism and respect, and this officer’s conduct does not reflect the values of our agency.”
Rosado said after investigating the video and traffic incident it was clear that Barone, a 10-year veteran with the department, could not “return to his duties as a productive member of the Hartford Police Department.”
“I did not make this decision lightly,” he said. “We hold ourselves to high standards, and when we fall short, we take responsibility for it. … We are committed to building and rebuilding a strong relationship with residents across our city based on mutual respect, accountability, transparency, and a shared desire to live in a strong Hartford.”
Barone was first demoted from sergeant to officer and assigned to desk duty last month after he was seen in a Facebook video telling a group he had stopped for suspected trespassing that he was a “little trigger-happy” and they shouldn’t try to flee. Barone was also heard on the video saying he gets paid overtime if he has to shoot someone.
An Internal Affairs investigation previously found that Barone violated the code of conduct and that his actions had discredited the police department, NBC Connecticut reported.
“We’re going to get everyone’s information. We’re going to go through and make sure no one has guns or drugs on them, and we’re going to get everyone’s name. If anyone wants to fight or run… I’m a little trigger-happy guys, I’m not going to lie, and I get paid a ton of money in overtime, if I had to shoot somebody. Don’t do anything stupid.”
When the group expressed concerns about his comment, Barone said, “There’s four of you, one of me.”
The man who filmed the video, Rashawn Johnson, told NBC Connecticut that he was hanging out with friends drinking on the front porch of a home when Barone approached them and asked the group what they were doing.
“We weren’t doing nothing wrong,” Johnson said. “We were all just in shock to hear him say that and glad there were other officers there that were more professional about their job.”
He added: “I’m glad I did pull my phone out. I’m sure this is something that happens all over the country where cops say something like this every day and it doesn’t get recorded.”
Johnson said he still ended up being cited for third-degree trespassing.