Photo: Westport Police Department
NORWALK — A Westport man who claims police roughed him up when he was arrested this month because he’s running for Congress says he needs time to find a lawyer.
TJ Elgin, 30, who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, did not enter a plea Monday when he was arraigned on a breach of peace charge at state Superior Court in Norwalk. A judge granted him more time to find an attorney and continued the case to Feb. 5.
Elgin was arrested Dec. 21 when he was mistaken for a burglar because he had misplaced the keys to his home. A neighbor reported waking up to the sound of a man yelling and kicking a door at a nearby Robert Lane residence, according to a police report of the incident. According to Elgin, he lives at the residence with his grandmother and had returned from a party with his fiance.
“I had already been in the house,” Elgin said Monday at state Superior Court in Norwalk. “I was talking to my grandmother when I heard a knock. And then I was on the ground, with knees in my back.”
Elgin has claimed Westport police used excessive force and has linked the arrest to the recent announcement that he intends to challenge Himes. He said he plans to file a complaint against the Westport Police Department this week.
“It’s just funny how this happened days after I announced,” Elgin said.
According to police, the caller did not recognize the man and feared he was attempting to break into the house or was involved in some type of altercation. Police said there was evidence the front door was kicked open.
Police said a man matching the description given by the caller eventually opened the door. The man, identified as Elgin, had a fresh injury to his face and refused to cooperate with officers, resulting in him being physically restrained while the incident was investigated, police said.
Police later determined there had not been a physical altercation at the home, and that Elgin lived there.
“It is apparent that Mr. Elgin’s recollection of the events on the night in question do not match the official account,” said Westport Police Adminstrative Lt. Anthony Prezioso. “However, please note that the department’s account is based on the statements of independent witnesses, investigative findings at the scene and interviews conducted. These interactions were recorded on body camera.”
Elgin was charged with breach of peace for allegedly interfering with an officer and was released on $500 bond.
Elgin has refuted the police version of the incident. Elgin claimed he and his fiance were out celebrating their upcoming marriage and realized they misplaced the keys to the home.
He accused police of calling him a burglar, despite reportedly having identification and his grandmother trying to tell police he was not a criminal.
Prezioso said that Elgin’s case, like all instances of use of force, was reviewed internally by the department’s professional standards division.
“After this review it was determined that the officers acted within the scope of policy and procedure,’ Prezioso said.
Elgin, however, said the arrest is not going to stand in his way of challenging Himes and even predicted he will beat the incumbent.
“I think the people who don’t know me are going to try to get to know me now,” Elgin said. “These kinds of things don’t look the best, but people will see we do a lot for the community. I do plan on winning this.”
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Published at Mon, 30 Dec 2019 10:13:00 +0000