By: DAVE ALTIMARI and MIKAELA PORTER, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 5:54 PM EDT, August 19, 2014
ENFIELD — The state quietly agreed Tuesday to drop criminal charges against a Windsor man who has accused an Enfield police officer of brutality during an arrest that was captured on video in April.
Mark Maher was charged with interfering with a police officer after an incident at the town's boat launch. In a short appearance in Superior Court in Enfield Tuesday, those charges were dismissed by Judge Howard Scheinblum without any objection from Supervisory State's Attorney Christopher Parakilas.
Maher must pay a $400 fine to settle previous drug charges unrelated to the incident involving Enfield police. Parakilas declined to comment on why he agreed to dismiss the charges.
Edward Joy, the Manchester attorney who represented Maher, did not have to play the dashboard camera videos from two police cruisers that show Officer Matthew Worden striking Maher in the face at least three times while Maher was on the ground, with two other officers trying to restrain him.
"I'm glad they dismissed the charges," Maher said outside the courtroom. "I expected them to be dropped because of the video posted."
One video shows Worden searching Maher, who is loudly questioning why he wasn't allowed to smoke and tells Worden several times: "If you want to arrest me, arrest me. Do what you gotta do."
Worden can be heard yelling "Don't ... with me" as he is turning Maher around to handcuff him. Maher is taken to the ground by three officers. Worden can be seen on the second video, which has a better angle of the takedown, adjusting the glove on his right hand before punching Maher twice in the face.
When Maher raises his head slightly Worden can be seen punching him at least once more before placing his knee on the back of Maher's head while the other two officers handcuff him.
Maher was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. Arrested along with Maher was a friend, Leonard Hill. Worden was one of four police officers who responded to the boat launch.
Maher filed a complaint against Worden. The internal affairs investigation of the incident is continuing. Worden, a 10-year-veteran of the force, has been on paid administrative leave since April.
Enfield police submitted an arrest warrant charging Worden with third-degree assault, but Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy rejected it.
The seven-page arrest warrant application submitted in July by Lt. Lawrence Curtis concluded that Worden hit Maher with punches that "were neither necessary nor needed" during the arrest. The warrant also alleged that Worden fabricated evidence.
In his police report of the incident, Worden wrote that Maher was actively fighting arrest and that he only punched Maher in the shoulder area in an attempt to incapacitate him. Worden said one of the punches may have struck Maher in the face but only because his "thrashing caused one of the punches to hit Maher in the right side of his forehead."
Hardy concluded that although Worden's actions might violate police department rules they did not rise to the level of a criminal prosecution.
Maher has also filed a notice of intent to sue the town for police brutality. Since then, two other people whom Worden has arrested also filed notices of intent to sue. All three men are being represented in civil court by Hartford attorney A. Paul Spinella.
Worden has been the subject of 17 internal affairs investigations since 2007. Of four in the past year, two accuse Worden of brutality. In the majority of the investigations, Enfield police cleared Worden. He was sent to a one-day "classroom based combat-confrontation avoidance class" in May.
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