UPDATED — Officer who investigated McGovern sought arrest warrant
UPDATE: Police Commission Chairman Roger McGovern did not respond to a police request for a statement regarding the allegations against him, according to a report written by the Trumbull police sergeant who conducted the investigation and concluded that McGovern should be charged with impersonating a police officer. Impersonating an officer is a Class B misdemeanor.
Sergeant Michael Pires wrote in his report that he had obtained a statement from Bernardino Nieva and viewed numerous video taken by surveillance cameras inside Stop & Shop and in the store's parking lot. The videos showed McGovern entering the store on August 27 and September 9, consistent with Nieva's statement that McGovern was attempting to collect $2,600 from him related to a minor traffic incident. On both visits McGovern left the store after a few minutes but did not appear to have purchased anything.
Nieva claimed that McGovern showed him a badge on August 27. Nieva described the badge as shiny and possibly gold, but he was not sure of the color. Pires commented in his report that members of the Police Commission are issued chrome-colored badges, but that under the amber-tinted fluorescent lights in the store a shiny chrome object could look gold.
People's Bank security videos from August 27 show McGovern approach Nieva while Nieva is working at the self-checkout location. The two speak for several minutes and McGovern shows Nieva some papers, which Pires said were probably repair estimates for damage to McGovern's vehicle resulting from the incident with Nieva. McGovern then reaches into his right rear pocket, removes his wallet and holds it in front of him at upper-abdomen level. Nieva glances down at it, then quickly looks up. Pires wrote that at no time in the video does McGovern purchase anything or use the bank's ATM.
On September 27 Pires showed the video to Chief Michael Lombardo, Deputy Chief Ron Kirby, First Selectman Tim Herbst and Director of Labor Relations Jim Haselkamp. After viewing the video, Lombardo informed Pires that he had asked McGovern a few days earlier if he had showed his badge and McGovern had replied, "never did, never did."
The following day Pires called McGovern and left a voicemail requesting a statement. The call was not returned. A short time later Pires indicated his intention to attempt to bring an impersonation charge against McGovern.
"Based on the aforementioned facts surrounding the investigation, coupled with corroborating the victim's account of the incident with video surveillance, this officer believes probable cause exists to charge Roger McGovern...for violating [state statute] 53a-130 impersonating a police officer...An arrest warrant request is pending," he wrote.
Lombardo said the decision not to charge McGovern was made by the State's Attorney's office. The Trumbull Times requested copies of the final incident report, the video evidence and the warrant refusal letter Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon police had provided Pires' report. Lombardo said he had forwarded the other requests to the Records Division and expected a response shortly.
Original story continues below.
ORIGINAL STORY: Police Commission Chairman Roger McGovern will not face charges for his actions following a minor traffic incident in August. McGovern was accused by Stop & Shop employee Bernardino Nieva of harassment and intimidation in the weeks following a collision between McGovern's vehicle and Nieva, who was riding a bicycle. Nieva also said McGovern had shown him a badge, possibly one that Trumbull Police Commission members are issued, and identified himself as a law enforcement officer. Police investigated and forwarded their findings to the State's Attorney.
First Selectman Tim Herbst told the Times Wednesday that the State's Attorney has decided not to pursue criminal charges against McGovern. The decision has no bearing on the Ethics Commission, which also is investigating. The Ethics Commission is the only authority in town that can recommend the removal of an appointed official.
"As I have maintained for the last week, there are two components to this investigation — what is or is not criminal and what is or is not ethical," Herbst said. "Now, we must let the Ethics Commission do their job."
Herbst said he was confident the Ethics Commission would conduct a fair and thorough hearing.
"I ask that the people of Trumbull allow this adjudicative body do their job," he said. "We have a highly qualified Ethics Commission that is not afraid to make the tough decisions. I am confident they will go where the truth takes them."
Herbst, who had viewed video footage of McGovern confronting Nieva inside Stop & Shop, said the video corroborated Nieva's version of events.
"In the video, you can see Roger reach into his right, rear pocket and pull something out," Herbst said. "You can't see what it is, but he shows it to [Nieva] and you can see him [Nieva] look down at it."
During a meeting with McGovern after seeing the video, Herbst said he asked to see McGovern's badge, which McGovern retrieved from his right rear pocket.
"I told Roger, 'I saw the video, I think you pulled your badge,'" Herbst said.
McGovern denied showing his badge, saying he had showed Nieva an ATM card, Herbst said.
Herbst said he had expected McGovern to be charged with impersonating an officer and had been surprised when he was informed that the state had declined to prosecute. He and Chief Michael Lombardo then recommended to prosecutors that they investigate other, lesser charges, such as coercion, he said.
In the end, McGovern was not charged at all. The Ethics Commission, should it find McGovern acted improperly, can issue a variety of punishments ranging from a reprimand to a recommendation that he be removed from the Police Commission.