East Haven Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Charge

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that East Haven Police Sergeant JOHN MILLER, 43, pleaded guilty today, before Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford, to violating an individual’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during the course of an arrest.

On January 18, 2012, a federal grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging MILLER and three other East Haven Police officers with various civil rights offenses. Today, MILLER pleaded guilty to count 10 of the indictment, which charges him with depriving an individual of his right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer. MILLER admitted that on January 3, 2010, in the course of making an arrest, he struck a handcuffed individual while the victim was in the secure custody of two other East Haven Police officers.

“The conduct of this officer, in striking a defenseless individual, is abhorrent,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “Police officers serve the people of Connecticut with dedication and distinction, putting their safety on the line to protect others. This case reminds us that no one is above the law. This police officer abused his authority and violated the civil rights of a person he is sworn to protect. Such conduct will never be tolerated.”

“When a police officer uses excessive force, he not only victimizes the person whose civil rights he violated, he undermines public trust in the professionals who are sworn to protect and serve, and do so honorably,” stated FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Galligan. “The integrity of our profession requires that law enforcement officers never be above the law.”

Chief Judge Thompson has scheduled sentencing for February 1, 2013, at which time MILLER faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

As part of his plea agreement, MILLER has agreed to cooperate fully with the government in the investigation and prosecution of this matter.

MILLER is currently on administrative leave from the East Haven Police Department.

U.S. Attorney Fein stated that the investigation is ongoing and encouraged individuals with information that may be helpful to the investigation to call the FBI at 212-384-2240.

As to the other defendants who are awaiting trial, U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Civil Rights Squad of the FBI’s New York Field Office. Deputy United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Assistant United States Attorney Krishna R. Patel are prosecuting the case with assistance from the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.