Yale Daily News

New Haven’s Board of Police Commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to terminate New Haven police officer Kenroy Taylor, who was placed on paid leave for a pattern of untruthfulness and mishandling cases throughout 2020. 

The board heard presentations from attorney Floyd Dugas representing the city and the New Haven Police Department Union lawyer Marshall Segar defending Taylor. Segar alleged that the NHPD had been targeting Taylor with harsher punishments than other officers received, claiming they harbored a “get Kenroy” mentality. Last week, Taylor filed a lawsuit against the city and the NHPD saying that he faced religious discrimination as a practicing Rastafarian. 

At the hearing, Dugas introduced four witnesses who had each uncovered separate incidents of alleged misconduct by Taylor at the NHPD. These included failures to complete reports and warrants, mishandling a domestic violence call, leaving behind drug paraphernalia evidence in his patrol car, making a stop at the Hamden Home Depot for a “plumbing emergency” while on duty and neglecting an assignment to aid the Parks and Recreation Department.  

Following their testimony, NHPD Acting Chief Renee Dominguez offered her recommendation that the board terminate Taylor. 

“If I’m unable to trust that an officer is going to be able to carry out basic functions, how am I then going to be able to trust and how is the public going to be able to trust that this officer is going to be making decisions, to take the liberties of someone in arrest, to be able to use the appropriate amount of force in a use of force situation?” Dominguez said in her recommendation to terminate Taylor. 

Incomplete reports and warrants  

Lt. Brendan Borer spoke as the first witness on Taylor’s conduct at the NHPD. Borer said that Taylor was one of 60 officers who did not complete reports, which was revealed in a 2019 audit. Taylor had four reports and five warrant requests incomplete. 

Borer said that he was especially troubled by Taylor’s mistake because one was for a domestic violence warrant. 

All other 59 officers took a deal for suspension over a hearing that Dominguez offered. Segar pointed out that this same deal was not extended to Taylor despite others also failing to draft domestic violence reports. 

When Segar later cross-examined Dominguez as she testified about Taylor’s incomplete reports, she acknowledged that other officers may have made similar mistakes. As for why she didn’t bring these forward with the same degree of punishment, she responded, “I am now the chief that is bringing it forward under a time when transparency is of the utmost priority.”

Bungled domestic violence call and forgotten drug evidence 

As the second witness, Sgt. Carlos Conceicao described how Taylor had mishandled a domestic violence call in March 2020. 

An officer called in a domestic dispute at his residence on Park Street between his mother and his adult son. Taylor and Officer Michael Lozada responded to the scene. Taylor though had switched his body camera onto ​“buffering mode” meaning that the incident was not recorded for thirty minutes. 

In responding to the call, Taylor determined the situation should be treated as a ​“mentally disturbed case” rather than a domestic violence incident. He then confiscated drug paraphernalia – a crack pipe and lighter – and called in an ambulance for the adult son to be evaluated. 

Conceicao said that in reviewing the facts of the case and Lozada’s body camera footage, Taylor made the wrong call in categorizing the incident as “mentally disturbed” over domestic violence. 

Back at the station, Conceicao said another officer discovered Taylor had left that drug paraphernalia evidence behind in his patrol car rather than immediately logging it.

In Taylor’s defense, Segar claimed that Taylor forgetting to log the evidence was not a terminable action and “it happens from time to time.”

Skipped Parks and Rec assignment: “Stomach problems”

In a third incident, Sgt. Chris Cameron testified at the hearing that Taylor had lied about skipping an assignment to assist the Parks and Recreation Department in shutting down a park. 

Just as the pandemic hit, Parks and Recreation requested officers from the NHPD help them shut down parks across the city. Cameron, who was serving as a B-Squad commander at the time, was taking officers’ temperatures and giving out car keys and assignments. 

Cameron said he assigned Taylor to help close Fort Hill Park at 6:30 p.m. one day in March 2020. But Taylor never showed. 

At 6:45 p.m. Cameron called Officer Taylor over the radio to ask him if he was aware of his assignment. Taylor said he was en route but Cameron instructed him to meet with Sgt. Feliciano. 

In a memo, Feliciano said Taylor told him he “forgot.” Yet, in a subsequent memo Taylor reported he missed the assignment because he was not feeling well. 

When Cameron investigated this inconsistency, he pulled Taylor’s car log and GPS data on the car. The log indicated that Taylor stopped at 200-210 Newhall Street for two hours and 16 minutes and an additional hour near Wexler-Grant school.

Segar explained that this was because Taylor was having stomach trouble and stopped to use the bathrooms at these locations. Segar also insinuated that these “stomach issues” could have been because Taylor had contracted COVID-19. 

Home Depot on duty: “Plumbing emergency” 

Officer Taylor was spotted in full uniform, operating an unmarked cruiser at the Home Depot on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden in July 2020.  

Sgt. Michael Canning, who at the time was assigned to supervise districts on the patrol B-Squad, said at the time Taylor claimed he was at Home Depot to address a “plumbing emergency.” 

According to security footage of the Home Depot, Canning said Taylor didn’t actually step foot in the plumbing section. 

Segar noted though that in both the Home Depot and the Parks and Recreation incidents, police supervisors didn’t directly interview Taylor about the discrepancies in his accounts and the evidence. 

In his presentation to the board Monday night, Dugas argued that the combination of the four incidents demonstrated a pattern of behavior. 

“We’re not dealing with a single isolated incident here, we’re dealing with multiple incidents with a gentleman I would respectfully request is either unable or incapable of following the rules we expect everybody else to follow,” Dugas concluded. “Particularly in this day and age, he is a liability to the department and to the public safety and health of the community.” 

In his presentation, Segar said Taylor would admit to making some mistakes, but that these missteps were not terminable offenses. 

“These types of incidents occurred daily in the police department in which officers are not holding up their end of the bargain so to speak, and the supervisors will make snap, on the spot corrections of these officers,” he said.  

Taylor has also previously received criticism for repeatedly firing taser shots at an unarmed man inside a convenience store on Whalley Avenue in 2017. The incident was reviewed by the NHPD’s assistant chiefs who determined that while the taser deployment did not violate any of the general orders, it could have been handled better in terms of de-escalation. 

Ultimately, Taylor and two other officers who responded to the call were ordered to go to the police academy for retraining. 

NHPD Sgt. Shayna Kendall was placed on administrative leave in early April for an undisclosed reason. Kendall will also face a disciplinary hearing before the Board of Police Commissioners.

SOPHIE SONNENFELD
Sophie Sonnenfeld covers cops and courts. She is a first-year in Branford College majoring in anthropology.