Stratton says he will turn himself in for “bogus” charges

An update on this story can be found here

Mike Stratton, trial lawyer and former New Haven alder, said Sunday he will turn himself in tomorrow on charges of assault and breach of peace following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.

He added he hopes the case will go to trial because he thinks the charges are “bogus” and will backfire on authorities. He also said he believes the evidence will bear out his claim that prosecutors and New Haven police are involved in a “conspiracy to take [him] down.”

A warrant for Stratton’s arrest was issued July 2 following a police investigation into a June incident in which Stratton called police to his Crown Street apartment, saying his girlfriend, Courtney Darlington, had assaulted him. Police arrested Darlington, 20, and charged her with assault and breach of peace. Stratton, 48, was not arrested or charged at the time.

Stratton added that he is investigating a malicious prosecution case, but has so far held off on the suggestion of any specific legal action, saying he is interested in learning more about how the relevant evidence was gathered and presented.

NHPD Spokesman David Hartman did not immediately return request for comment Sunday. He said at the beginning of July that there was not an active search for Stratton, who was out of town at the time. Stratton confirmed that he will be returning to New Haven Monday and plans to turn himself in. “I don’t know if they are ready to serve [the warrant],” he said, “but I will be ready, eager and willing.”

The charges Stratton faces stem from an additional investigation, announced June 24, into the incident that brought police to Stratton’s fourth-floor apartment in the Kelly House. Authorities said it was later reported that a small amount of marijuana had been discovered in the residence when police went to secure the space. New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman also wanted to make sure officers had not given Stratton special treatment, police said.

The announcement of the investigation came one day after Stratton had resigned his seat on the Board of Alders, citing family reasons and saying little more. On the Board, Stratton was an outspoken critic of Mayor Toni Harp and what he characterized as the majority “voting bloc” of labor-backed alders. He clashed with his colleagues numerous times, often with considerable hostility, during his first six months in office.

In a July 2 press release, NHPD Spokesman David Hartman said new information uncovered in the police probe was presented to the State’s Attorney’s Office for review, and that an arrest warrant had been issued for Stratton on charges of assault in the third degree and breach of peace in the second degree.  Darlington faces identical charges.

The additional evidence indicated that Stratton did strike Darlington, in addition to sustaining blows himself, Assistant Chief Archie Generoso said in early July. Though authorities would not comment on the nature of this evidence at the time, the New Haven Independent has since reported that it included video recording of the apartment building. 

On the day of the incident, June 13, Darlington told the New Haven Independent Stratton had not hit her.

“Mr. Stratton did assault the young lady,” Generoso said.

Stratton adamantly denied hitting his girlfriend, with whom he said he has maintained contact in the wake of the incident. He said the video shows him acting only in “reasonable self-defense.”

“I grew up with strong women. You never ever strike a girl,” he said, adding: “I am going to get the video and explain exactly what is happening in context. I will not allow a quiet dismissal. They don’t want a trial.”

Darlington will appear in court on July 24.

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