Search Results for: joel anderson

NCPD Top Dog Krolikowski Wanted to Arrest Officer Pickering for Assault

A criminal incident report on New Canaan police officer Fred Pickering shows NCPD second in command, Leon Krolikowski, thought there was probable cause to arrest Officer Pickering for 3rd degree assault and 2nd degree Breach of Peace. Pickering was put on paid leave in late February after a young black man, Joel Anderson, filed a complaint that he’d been the victim of racial slurs and a physical altercation by Officer Picker and a local Hockey coach Rob Benson, age 41, at a popular restaurant in New Canaan. The incident report released to today via a freedom of information request also shows Krolikowski filed an arrest warrant application for Robert Benson for Intimidation based on bigotry of bias in the 3rd degree, Threatening 2nd degree, 2nd degree Breach of Peace. On April 12th Officer Krolikowski states he asked States Attorney David Cohen to sign both arrest warrants. But New Canaan residents had to wait until June 3rd for Attorney David Cohen to decided he was not going to sign the warrants and would not prosecute either of the accused men on the behalf of Joel Anderson.

Bar witnesses, who were not part of Anderson’s party, state they saw Officer Pickering and his friend Rob Benson as the ‘aggressive’ people in the fight and some say Pickering’s group started it. Vinay Rival, a key witness who saw the fight, stated in a sworn interview with Officer Krolikowski the exchange was ‘racially charged’ and Benson towered over Anderson while he was sitting at a table asking him ‘why are you here and ‘you can’t be here’. Rival then sees Pickering come over to Joel’s table, put a clicked fist on the table and ‘say something to the effect of I’m a police officer be careful’. Rival describes what Pickering said as threatening although no specific threats where said. Rival also confirms he saw Pickering push the young black man with two hands to the chest. The incident is described as one sided in that Anderson never was aggressive or advanced on Pickering or Benson. It was Rival’s view that Pickering was intoxicated. None of the witnesses appear to remember either party calling Joel a Nigger though. Rival told Officer Krolikowski in his interview he’d never previously meet or seen the men involved in the fight.

Town records show Robert Benson lives with his family (wife Darlene Benson) in a home valued at $3mn at 66 Parish Road.

Previous press reports said Joel started the fight by calling Officer Pickering a pig but the case-incident report shows none of the eye witnesses heard Joel say this; it was only Pickering who stated that line. The core group of New Canaan friends with Pickering who were kicked out of the Tequila Mockingbird bar by bartender Jason Geane were Kevin Arnone, Robert Benson and Sean Hurley. Benson admitted to drinking at least 4 beers prior to coming to Tequila Mockingbird. The bartender stated in his police interview the group was ‘buzzed up but lucid’.

One of the things that is troubling about this report is I asked NCPD Chief Edward Nadriczny on May 29th if it was true that David Cohen was sitting on an arrest warrant application for Pickering and he emailed me back that this was ‘absolutely not true’. I told him my source was a member of the force. With the Chief’s denial I decided not to report it. Now today it appears he either didn’t understand my question or flat out lied to this reporter.

Pickering is still on paid leave while Officer Krolikowski conducts an internal affairs investigation looking at if Pickering violated conduct in the police manual. The Chief who is set to retire next week has not responded to email questions on why he told me my tip about the arrest application was not true when their own internal report shows it was.

Stay tuned for an in-depth report on the witnesses and evidence gathered in this alleged hate fight including an interview with Joel’s mother who was also a witness to some of the events.

Photo is Robert Benson March 2013

Officer Fred Pickering Case Report

States Attorney Lets NCPD Officer Fred Pickering Off after Bar Fight with Black Man

Stamford States Attorney David Cohen has finally told the town of New Canaan he will not be pressing charges against a 25 year veteran cop, Officer Fred Pickering, who was allegedly in a bar fight with a young black man. The incident happen late February and after a citizen complaint was filed by a few of the men at the bar Officer Pickering was put on paid leave. As I previously reported witnesses at the bar say Pickering came into the bar inebriated with a few of his Hockey buddies and Joel Anderson, a man Pickering has arrested before, got into a verbal altercation with Pickering’s crew that involved racial slurs directed at Joel. Anderson is in his mid-twenties, black, and was raised in New Canaan, Conn. The charges Pickering had once arrested him for in 2011 were waived.

What went on in the criminal investigation conducted by Pickering’s peers on the force is still a mystery and the police have not released their findings although several media publications have made FOI request. Fellow officers were telling town residents I spoke with that part of the States Attorney investigation involved Pickering coming into the bar drunk with a loaded gun or driving home drunk from the bar with a loaded gun in his car. An illegal move regardless of if you are a member of force. But when I fact checked the rumor with the NCPD and Pickering’s attorney they flat out denied this was part of the investigation. Which shows how lengthy drown out investigations without full transparency can sully the accused reputation. It also highlights the infighting within the New Canaan police.

Attorney Cohen and the States office told me they are not actually going to comment on the case today. The statement we see attributed to Cohen in the local papers is from communication he sent to the New Canaan police. I’d like see Cohen’s actual whole statement on the investigation and not just the part the NCPD chose to share.

NCPD said in a written press release this afternoon “Cohen said after a thorough review of all the evidence they did not find there was sufficient evidence presented to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any specific person has committed a crime.”

Attorney Darnell Crosland, president of the Norwalk NAACP chapter who has reviewed the case with Joel Anderson, told me after hearing David Cohen’s statement about no charges, “I respect the standard of guilt must be found beyond a reasonable doubt, but that’s not the standard for finding a person culpable for a wrong doing and for making an arrest. There only needs to be a finding of probable cause. If anyone of us was subjected to what Joel was subjected to we would expect that any court in a civilized society would find probable cause and conclude absent a rational explanation that something went wrong, and that a police officer should be held to a higher standard.”

This also means Pickering’s buddy, Robert Benson, who allegedly called Joel a Nigger also isn’t getting charged for say breach of peace or a hate crime. Clearly there isn’t a community standard the New Canaan police are using for breach of peach charges because just last month they charged a 68-year old woman with breach of peace for getting into a verbal altercation at a popular New Canaan restaurant called Sole. But Pickering and his rich Wall Street buddy gets off scott-free for their role in the bar fight?

Oddly, the NCPD still isn’t giving Pickering the all-clear. Chief Nadriczny told me today they are now starting an ‘internal investigation’ into if anything in the police manual of conduct was violated by Pickering. This also mean that the officer, a father of three kids who lives in expensive New Canaan, is still going to be out on paid leave. Leave that doesn’t included the lucrative overtime our town pays these cops. A FOI request done last year shows Pickering base salary is $98,000. So that means in the three months he’s been on paid leave the town’s spent around $25,000 for David Cohen to figure out he’s not going to do anything. Talk about a waste of taxpayers’ money. On the flipside this means Pickering has not been able to have the opportunity to earn his usual pay, which was around $152k last year.

So why did the NCPD wait until now to start their internal investigation. The citizen’s complaint, which would sparked an investigation of this type was filed back in late February. It’s because it’s likely a stall tactic to slow down any attorneys Joel Anderson has who are looking at suing Pickering or the town in a civil suit. Greenwich lawyer Phil Russell had initially taken on Joel as a client on contingency for a civil rights suit but nothing was filed.

The NCPD move also delays press FOI request seeking police notes and citizen complaints in the event. And on top of that, I was told by people close to Pickering that he is also considering suing the town of New Canaan after he’s been vindicated by the State’s attorney. Talk about a total Clusterfuck. It reads like the NCPD is in way over their head and residents could be paying for their mistakes via civil suits.

Pickering’s criminal attorney, Gene Riccio, told me they are glad about State’s attorney decision to drop the case and appreciate all the people in New Canaan who supported his client. But this story is far from over, as we now wait to see what the young black man will do in a civil suit and how Pickering will respond to the actions of town officials who are keeping him out on leave.

New Canaan Police Officer Pickering Put on Leave-State’s Attorney Investigating

On Monday, March 11th, the NCPD honored part of a media FOI request and confirmed the officer on leave is Fred M. Pickering and they are running their own internal investigation on top of the States Criminal Investigation. This was a result of media pressure on the town 1st Selectman to get the cops to follow State FOI Laws about information on public servants put on leave. There are still unanswered questions on who is leading the investigation and why it’s being done by Pickering’ peers instead of an out of town police unit.

Update 3-9-13 11:30am: At least two employees of Tequila Mockingbird have said it was Lt. Fred Pickering who was in involved in the bar fight on February 23rd. Last night I stopped by the police station to see if Pickering was on duty but he wasn’t. The desk officer told me he didn’t know when he’d be back on duty. Pickering’s voicemail doesn’t say he’s on leave but the NCPD Chief also won’t answer emails asking when his senior officer will be returning for work. Attorney Gene Riccio told me he has been hired to represent Pickering and would not comment further on his client’s role in the alleged fight. Pickering has not returned a call for comment.

The 2011 NCPD annual report shows Lt. Pickering is in the top 6 of command for the 45 person force. He stated on the local Patch site once he needs 30 years of service to retire and started the job in May 1987. Pickering and his wife Mary Beth (a soccer coach) live at 129 Gower Rd in New Canaan. The modest 4 bedroom 3.5 bath house, that he bought two years after he started the force, is appraised at near $900,000. Pickering’s published earnings for 2012 is a little over $152k plus he can earn overtime or private service pay at $65 per hour with a four hour minimum. The police have still not told the press if the officer is on paid or unpaid leave although multiple publications including this one have made FOI request to get this information that is a matter of public interest (and paid for with our tax dollars).

The concern here is how did Officer Pickering handle himself while off duty with his friends who allegedly made racial slurs at another patron in Tequila Mockingbird. One witness, Kevin Jones, told me he heard someone called Pickering a ‘Pig’ and then more name calling happen, via Pickering’s crew, and then the altercation happen.

Pickering is the brother of the director of human resources for the town Cheryl Pickering Jones. The family has a history of working in fire, police, nursing services for New Canaan with deep roots tied to town government.

We are still waiting on the town attorney to give a legal opinion on if the NCPD has to honor the press FOI request to release the officer’s name. I first reported yesterday the State’s FOI commission believes they have to release the name of a public servant on leave. If the town attorney, Ira Bloom, denies the information we are seeking under Federal and State FOI laws I will file an appeal / complaint with the State FOI commission and I hope other local publications do the same.

3-9-13 3pm: The New Canaan Advertiser is also reporting Pickering is on leave and quotes sources that say it’s a paid leave. If Pickering is on paid leave, then given that’s funded by taxpayer dollars, the NCPD has to answer our FOI request. The public deserves to know who is running the investigation, who made the decision to put Pickering on paid leave, how long he’s been on it, and I’d like to see a copy of the police union contract that could show if they had to put him on paid leave or if they had an option. We also need confirmation if his weapons and badge have been turned back in while on leave.

3-10-13: Here is some interesting case law history on how Pickering and a few other NCPD handled a controversial DUI arrest in 2004 by a women who was having a reaction to medicine. In 2008 Pickering received the Police Meritorious Duty Award for his work in Domestic Violence cases.

3-12-13: The New Canaan Advertiser is reporting the name of the man accusing Pickering. Joel L. Anderson, of 186 Lakeview Ave, had been arrested by the NCPD in 2011 for allegedly stealing pot (but his arrest record was expunged and their are no convictions against Joel). Anderson’s address at the time of his arrest was in Section 8 Low-Income housing. He and two of his buddies were outed for the alleged pot heist after they reported the guy they might have stole it from had hit their car. It’s kind of a funny story. Sources close to Pickering have told me this is not the first time 24-year-old Anderson has tried to file a complaint against Pickering but I haven’t seen a 2nd complaint. The NAACP has gotten involved at some point in the complaints against Pickering and I have to wonder why Pickering wasn’t investigated by the State’s attorney before if there was a prior complaint?

Original Text
A New Canaan, Conn. police officer was put on leave and is under criminal investigation by the State’s attorney. The NCPD release a statement today that a person complained they were hit by the off-duty officer at a popular local watering hole, Tequila Mockingbird. The complaint said a fight started when a person in the officer’s group started racial slurs. The NCPD is not releasing the name of the officer and said the event happen February 23rd.

Josh Fisher, New Canaan Advertiser Editor in Chief, asked the NCPD Chief Nadriczny if the name would be released via a FOI request. The chief said no until the investigation is complete. The name of the complainant is also not disclosed.

If something sounds fishy here you’re right it is. Why are we just getting word of this on March 8th. If a cop is put on leave that is a matter of public interest, if public coffers are being used to pay him while he is on leave that is a mater of public interest. I spoke with Attorney Valica Harmon at the State’s FOI Commission who said, “There is no basis of fact for the Police to withhold the name of an officer that has been put on leave. That’s a personal decision and separate from the State’s attorney investigation. The public has a right to know if public coffers are being used to pay this person while on leave.”

I emailed and called Chief Nadriczny at 2pm today with a FOI request explaining the above. If he doesn’t respond with a name today the State’s FOI office said I should filed a complaint with the FOI commission.

I have also asked Chief Nadriczny if ANYONE involved in the incident was arrested for breach of peace, disorderly conduct or assault. You know the charges you usually see when there is bar fight by grown men.

At 2:45pm Chief Nadriczny wrote back saying

“Ms. Buhl -This is an ongoing, active criminal investigation and our press release contains the information we will release at this time.”

I also want to know if another town is being called in to run the investigation. Can the NCPD investigating one of their own?

Remember this is the same police unit who was investigated for racial profiling with traffic ticketing writing last year by the CHRO and was also involved in accepting free alarms from New Canaan Alarm company but no one was ever charged with wrong doing or fired.

New Canaan Patch/AOL editor Michael Dinan wrote in comments on his story about the event that the Patch would not allow readers to post comments speculating who the officer is. I find that ironic since AOL/Patch is known to encourage their editors to allow all kinds of speculative comments about people in town to get the page views up.

If you’ve heard who the officer is feel free to comment here and I’ll investigate it. The NCPD is paid with our tax dollars and we have the right to transparent information from them, which we are unfortunately not getting today. Based on the NCPD Chief’s refusal to honor the press FOI request I’ll be filing a complaint.

Here is the NCPD press release from 11:45am on 3-8-13:
NCPD Press Release Dispute Investigation 03-08-13

UPDATE 4:30pm: I spoke with Ira Bloom the town attorney who said he’s looking into if he thinks the NCPD have to release the officers name. The Advertiser also spoke with the town First Selectman who said he asked Bloom to look into it and they’d have an answer on Monday. If they say no I encourage every local publication to file a FOI complaint with the State Commission as they clearly think the NCPD has to comply.