Cop Cleared by IA Still in Court for Separate Incident

The New Haven Police Department Internal Affairs Division’s misconduct investigation of Josh Smereczynsky is over, but the officer that drew backlash following a controversial St. Patrick’s Day arrest is in the midst of another court battle.

The abuse allegations come from a March 2013 arrest outside of Toad’s Place. Ryan Watkins-Wiseman, the plaintiff, claims that Smereczynsky, Officer Leonardo Soto and Officer Michael Pepe-along with two officers identified only as “John Doe” in court documents-struck him numerous times, causing a concussion and loss of consciousness, as well as numerous other injuries to his head, face, and body.

A notice of intent to commence the suit was filed in August of 2013, and the matter is currently in New Haven civil court.

Watkins-Wiseman was arrested along with two other individuals following what was reported as “a brawl” outside of Toad’s Place. The incident involved the breaking of a Yorkside Pizza window, although news reports at the time indicated that none of the individuals who were arrested were responsible. The Milford resident was charged with Interfering with an Arrest. In a complaint against the officers-filed on February 4-he claims that they began “assaulting and battering” him as he attempted to speak on behalf of a third party.

Attorney David Laudano, who is representing Watkins-Wiseman, claims that officers violated a Connecticut Constitutional protection against the use of unreasonable force during an arrest. When reached by phone, Laudano declined requests for comment on the case, which is still in litigation.

The complaint alleges that his client suffered contusions and abrasions to his face, nose, chin, scalp, and rib cage, as well as lower back and neck pain as a result of the incident. Watkins-Wiseman also sustained a broken middle finger during his encounter with officers, according to the complaint.

New Haven Corporation of Counsel Assistant Attorney Michael Wolak also declined requests for comment on the case, and said that the officers’ representatives have already begun the discovery process in order to obtain evidence from the plaintiff.

There is also a petition to dismiss the case against the two unnamed officers.

Smereczynsky was recently at the center of a controversy regarding a St. Patrick’s Day arrest that took place outside of Buffalo Wild Wings on Church Street where he was-again-dispatched in response to reports of a fight that had broken out. A cell phone video captured Smereznysky slamming a 15-year old suspect to the ground, and sparked protests that have continued even after his exoneration last week.




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