Hartford Police Fire Detective Over DUI Arrest, Racial Slurs
Jan. 08--A Hartford detective who police said used racial slurs during his drunken driving arrest last summer in Plainville was fired Monday.
Robert Lanza, 44, also refused to get out of his car for Plainville police during his arrest, resisted efforts to be handcuffed and provided false information to the officers, Deputy Chief Brian Foley said Monday.
Lanza, who was previously assigned to the department's special investigations division, had been on an administrative assignment since his arrest, Foley said. The 12-year veteran of the Hartford department was charged with driving under the influence and interfering with police. His case remains active.
"These actions were egregious, deplorable and completely unacceptable for a Hartford police officer, and are grounds for termination even before considering their present and future detrimental effect upon the operations of the Hartford Police Department," Foley said. "This causes concerns over Detective Lanza's ability to perform the functions of a police officer, as well as the public trust and legitimacy in his ability to enforce the laws equitably without regard to race or ethnicity."
Kyle Macci, a lawyer representing Lanza in his criminal case, did not respond to a request for comment.
Officers from Bristol saw Lanza's car swerving and weaving on Route 72 on Aug. 27, police said at the time. Lanza failed several field sobriety tests, and pulled away from Plainville officers who responded to the scene when they tried to arrest him. He also refused two breathalyzer tests and declined the opportunity to call for an attorney, officers said.
In footage from a Plainville dashboard camera released Monday by Hartford police, Lanza, visibly intoxicated and slurring his speech, used a racial epithet against African Americans several times.
"You got me locked up like a [expletive] here," Lanza said at one point after being taken into custody. "Really?"
When first pulled over, Lanza is also recorded calling Plainville Officer Roman Blajerski a derogatory word for people of Polish descent.
"I'm not doing your test," Lanza said. "Take me to jail."
As the encounter continued, Lanza repeatedly told the Plainville officers that he was an officer in Hartford and that he wanted to go home.
"I know the game, I've been a cop for 19 years," Lanza says at one point. Later in the conversation, he asks the Plainville officers to drive him home.
"That's what we do," he said. "We take care of each other."
After refusing to take the field sobriety tests, Lanza was taken into custody by the Plainville officers. While handcuffed and seated in the back of a police vehicle, Lanza becomes more irate, calling the officers "[expletive] cowards."
"You're treating me like an animal, like a [expletive] on the streets," Lanza said while en route to the Plainville police station to be booked.
During the booking process, Lanza continued to argue with the officers. At one point he warns the officers to "never come to Hartford." When the Plainville officer asks Lanza if that was a threat, Lanza shrugs.
"You guys are [expletive] losers," Lanza says, later telling an officer to "go [expletive] yourself" as he asks him standard arrest intake questions.
Foley, in announcing Lanza's firing Monday, said police had initiated the internal affairs investigation immediately after learning about Lanza's arrest.
"We don't want this single event to define the great commitment and professionalism and hard work of the officers in our department that they do every single day," Foley said. "We've made incredible strides in community outreach, in community trust and legitimacy. When something like this happens here or anywhere, it hurts the police, it hurts law enforcement as a whole."
Mayor Luke Bronin, in a statement sent late Monday, said he fully supports Police Chief James Rovella's decision to fire Lanza.
"Detective Lanza's actions during and after his arrest by the Plainville Police Department in August 2017 were wholly unacceptable and fell far short of the Hartford Police Department's high standard of conduct," Bronin said. "Today's termination sends a strong message that the use of racial slurs will not be tolerated, and that racism has no place in the City of Hartford."