A Hartford detective has been suspended from the force for 10 days over a confrontation with two black teenagers about a year ago.
Det. Phil Borkowski was suspended by Police Chief Jason Thody on July 16 following an internal investigation of a complaint made in October 2019, according to Hartford Courant.
Borkowski was accused of leaving his post, on Aug. 26, 2019, after his wife called him to say that someone had knocked on the family's door at around 9 p.m. Borkowski said his wife was “terrified,” according to an internal investigation, and he went home to check on the situation at his West Hartford home despite being on-duty, at the time, in Hartford.
Police are not allowed to leave their posts for non-emergency situations without first getting permission from their supervisors.
Borkowski, who is white, was accused of conduct unbecoming of an officer, harassment, neglect of duty, discourteous attitude, civil rights violation, and violation of the code of conduct. The internal investigation concluded Borkowski was guilty of violating the police code of conduct and neglecting his duties, but that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the other claims.
“The interaction was brief,” the internal investigation report noted, “the complainants were not threatened with arrest, they were not handcuffed, no firearms were pointed at them, no sirens were activated, no marked police vehicle was present, and only one officer got out of the vehicle and spoke to them, even though two other officers were present.”
The complaint, which was filed by Keesha Answer, mother of one of the boys, said that on Aug. 26, her son and his friend were selling “Chieftan Cards” to raise money for their high school football team when they knocked on the Borkowski’s door. No one answered, Answer reported, and the boys, who were dressed in their football uniforms, walked away.
Soon after that, an unmarked SUV drove past the boys, made a U-turn, and drove toward them. There were three officers in the vehicle, the investigation report stated.
Borkowski got out of the vehicle and confronted the boys, the investigation noted. The detective said he did not use any intimidating words or tactics with the boys, but the teens said they felt the officer was “angry” and “yelling.” Borkowski said once he understood the boys were fundraising, he wished them luck and went on his way.
In hindsight, Bokowski said West Hartford Police should have been the ones to investigate his wife’s complaint, according to the internal investigation.
Answer said the incident was an “extremely traumatic event for these young black boys to face especially given the current climate of our country.”
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