Students allege NHPD used excessive force

Students arrested during a brawl Saturday outside Toad’s Place said Monday that they were not involved in the fight and claimed the conduct of city police in the incident was harsh and inappropriate.

Quinn Fitzgerald ’05 and Dani Neff ’06 were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with police, New Haven Police spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said. Winchester also said another Yale student was arrested in the incident, but the name she provided does not appear in any University records.

Police also arrested Southern Connecticut State University student Ethan Voltolini for disorderly conduct and interfering with police. His role in the incident could not be confirmed.

Neff said she was arrested when she tried to speak with police officers outside Toad’s.

“I was leaving Toad’s to meet up with my band, Common Response, when I saw Quinn being brutalized by several police officers,” Neff said. “I asked one of them, ‘what are you doing?’ and was immediately handcuffed and put under arrest for interference.”

Fitzgerald said he became involved in the incident outside Toad’s when he exited the club and observed the altercation between police and Toad’s patrons. He said he saw one officer detain a man outside Toad’s with a baton to his neck, and was arrested when he asked if the force was necessary.

“I was off on the sidelines and I poked my head forward,” Fitzgerald said. “I was disturbed because the guy police were holding wasn’t actively resisting and he was being brutalized. There was no provocative tone in my voice.”

Winchester said according to the report of the NHPD officer who arrested Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald failed to cooperate when the officer asked him to clear the area so that the officer could put another person into the back of the police car.

Fitzgerald said he was accused of pushing the officer who arrested him, though the claim was not recorded on police forms. As soon as he spoke, he said, he was pushed against a car and held with a baton against his neck.

“[The officer] was arresting people left and right and using force pretty indiscriminately,” he said.

Although he was placed in a police car initially, he said a Yale police officer let him go. Fitzgerald did not have to go to jail but does have a court date scheduled for April 14.

Fitzgerald filed a complaint with the NHPD Monday morning regarding its treatment of the situation at Toad’s.

Police have responded to several other incidents at Toad’s this year, including a brawl Feb. 27 at a concert by rapper Lloyd Banks. Fitzgerald said he has noticed police using what he called excessive force during a previous incident at Toad’s and filed a complaint with the NHPD at the time. During that incident, Fitzgerald also made a comment, he said, but was not arrested.

Police declined to comment any further on the fight or arrests Monday.

Toad’s bouncers try to break up a crowd outside the club during Saturday night’s scuffle. Two Yale students arrested as a result of the event allege New Haven Police acted inappropriately.
Courtesy BrettKonner
Toad’s bouncers try to break up a crowd outside the club during Saturday night’s scuffle. Two Yale students arrested as a result of the event allege New Haven Police acted inappropriately.

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