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Police Beat Suspect

Published: May 2, 2009

A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday accuses members of a regional police task force of "savagely" beating a suspect during a drug bust in Glastonbury, giving him what his lawyer called "a hole in his head."

Members of East Central Narcotics, also known as ECN, punched and kicked Rafael Morales of Hartford with such force that Morales, 50, sustained an "open-depressed skull fracture" 2 centimeters wide, said the attorney, A. Paul Spinella.

Spinella said that he filed the lawsuit Friday at U.S. District Court in Hartford. The suit asks for a trial, plus punitive and compensatory damages. It names the towns of Glastonbury, East Hartford, Manchester and West Hartford, their police chiefs and individual officers.

Early in the morning on Jan. 9, narcotics officers converged on a van in which Morales was a passenger in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn in Glastonbury. At the time, police said in a press release, Morales collapsed as he stepped from the van and was found to have a head injury. He was brought to a hospital for treatment.

According to the lawsuit, the officers, who were planning an undercover drug purchase, surrounded the vehicle and took the driver into custody. Moments later, they began to remove Morales from the passenger seat when "one or more of them began to savagely beat him by punching and kicking him in his face and head." At least one of the officers admitted hitting Morales in a police report, the lawsuit says.

Doctors had to perform a craniotomy to remove blood from Morales' brain, Spinella said.

"He had a hole in his head," Spinella said.

Morales, whom Spinella describes as a Fordham University graduate and four-year Navy veteran, is now at the Hartford Correctional Center, Spinella said, but Spinella is requesting that he be moved to a place where he can get better medical care.

A state police investigation of the incident continues, said state police Sgt. Chris Johnson.