VIDEO: Cop Under Investigation For Hitting Car Theft Suspect In Head With Gun

Bridgeport Police Officer Gianni Capozziello has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Bridgeport, CT – A Bridgeport police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave after cell phone footage surfaced that showed him using his pistol to strike a suspect in the head (video below).

The incident occurred at approximately 9:45 p.m. on Friday, when Bridgeport Police Officer Gianni Capozziello spotted a red Volkswagen that matched the description of a car that had been reported stolen, the Connecticut Post reported.

The lone officer radioed for backup, and began following the vehicle without activating his emergency lights as he waited for additional units to arrive, according to his report.

But when the 17-year-old male driver turned onto Jane Street, Officer Capozziello activated his siren and lights in order to initiate a “felony stop,” the Connecticut Post reported.

In his report, the officer said he had his “department issued pistol unholstered” as he approached the suspect’s vehicle.

Another officer made his way over to the passenger side of the window as Officer Capozziello issued commands to the driver, cell phone footage showed.

“I gave multiple verbal commands to the operator to stick his hands out the window,” the officer’s report read, according to the Connecticut Post. “I observed the operator moving around and ducking under the seat in the vehicle and popping his head up while turning back to face me multiple times.”

Officer Capozziello repeatedly ordered the suspect to put his hands out of the window, but the teen opened his driver’s door and got out of the car instead, the video showed.

The suspect momentarily dropped his hands to his waist, at which point the officer became concerned that he was “reaching for a weapon,” according to the report.

“He turned away from me in [a] quick manner with his right side facing away from me and [I was] no longer able to see his right hand,” Officer Capozziello wrote, according to the Connecticut Post.

He said he grabbed ahold of the suspect’s wrist, but that the teen “immediately began pulling away” from him.

“Fearing [he] was reaching for a weapon with his right hand and unable to holster my department issued pistol…I utilized the magazine well area of my pistol as an emergency impact weapon,” Officer Capozziello explained in his report, according to the Connecticut Post.

The suspect immediately fell to the ground after being hit in the head with the officer’s duty weapon, cell phone footage showed.

After he was taken into custody, the officers discovered he was in possession of “five glassine wax paper folds containing an off-white powdery substance,” that was suspected to be heroin, according to the police report.

The suspect has been charged with interfering with an officer, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree larceny, and possession with intent to sell, the Connecticut Post reported.

Cell phone footage of the incident was posted to Facebook on Saturday, and was soon forwarded to city leaders.

“No one should be treated in this manner, regardless of the crime,” City Council President Aidee Nieves told the Connecticut Post, adding that the video was “unacceptable and disturbing.”

“We cannot allow this treatment from our officers to our families and our community,” Councilwoman Maria Valle agreed.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim acknowledged that he had no information about the incident other than having seen the video footage, but said that he believes Officer Capozziello should be fired.

“This calls for immediate termination and referral to the State’s Attorney for criminal prosecution,” Ganim told the Connecticut Post. “I’m not trying to inflame a situation, but this will not be tolerated.”

“If what I see is authentic and actually happened…there is no excuse,” he railed. “This is outrageous.”

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez has placed Officer Capozziello on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, The Connecticut Post reported.

Chief Perez said that the cell phone video showed only a snippet of what occurred that night, and that investigators will also be reviewing bodycam footage of the altercation.

“I will not tolerate anyone abusing anyone in that manner,” the chief added. “We want to be totally transparent.”

City Councilman Ernest Newton said there is no question that Officer Capozziello was in the wrong.

“You see it point blank,” he railed to the Connecticut Post. “That was an aggressive police action. The man put his hands up, and he hits him.”

Officer Capozziello served as a U.S. Marine for eight years before he joined the Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) in 2016, according to Heavy.

Bridgeport Police Sergeant Charles Paris, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1159, urged city leaders and citizens to wait for facts to be gathered before rushing to judgement.

“Officer Capozziello was conducting a felony stop of an unknown occupant of a reported stolen vehicle in a location that is known for high drug trafficking and weapons,” Sgt. Paris said in a statement. “These are known facts that have already been reported, and should be kept in mind before any rush to judgement based on a Facebook video.”

The union said it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, but noted that the BPD “is dealing with adverse working conditions – such as the decision to split up two-person squad cars – that jeopardize officer safety and increase occupational stress.”

Sgt. Paris noted that the incident has been “difficult and emotional” for everyone, to include the “dedicated police officers” who serve Bridgeport.

“Let’s use this moment as an opportunity for constructive dialogue and meaningful action to improve public safety and foster a better understanding of the challenges facing Bridgeport police officers,” he said.

According to Heavy, Officer Capozziello was arrested in Norwalk in 2013 on charges of third-degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct – three years before he was hired by BPD.

The outcome of that case is unknown.

You can watch cell phone footage of Officer Capozziello’s most recent altercation in the video below:

Comments (80)
No. 1-21
shooter
shooter

That's no bueno.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

based solely on the video that was shared on facebook, several elected officials are already pushing for the officer to be terminated, with the Mayor calling for criminal charges to be filed. I think we saw this play out in NYC; the town will drop the charges against the suspect, and the criminal will file a lawsuit (which will be settled quickly by the town council). And then following the investigation that does not recommend criminal charges against the office, he will be terminated from the department for a violation of some policy at the city.

Question: if during the course of the arrest, the suspect hid his right hand from the officer, pulled a pistol from his waistband, and shot him twice in the chest, what would the elected officials be saying?

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

This is excessive force and assault and battery by the po-po. An officer of the law who would do this seems like the type of person who would plant drugs, as well. I predict that Officer Capozziello is going down.

AnnykaV
AnnykaV

Considering this department ended their association with LivePD because they thought it made the city look crime-ridden and bad, this does not surprise me in the least.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Also, this was not an altercation. It was not an argument at all, much less a noisy argument.

BerettaAPX
BerettaAPX

Meh...don't steal cars, don't sell drugs....you won't have these issues. These Oogas only seem to understand violence since multiple arrests don't seem to teach them anything.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

and it escapes many of you why a criminal could shoot cops and not have a community at large fully condemn him. for every one cop shooter, there's probably dozens (hundreds?) of overreaching, violent cops acts like this.

All5xx
All5xx

Do not see officers story matching what suspect was doing. I hope his civil suit can proceed while he serves his time for possession. The officer should retain a lawyer to help save his job.

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

If you study the video carefully, the LEO was right to slam the thug with his gun. He can get all the justification he needs from this very website on all the videos showing young black males turning their backs to LEO, while being told to get down, so they can whip out a gun and start shooting.

LEO0301
LEO0301

"“I will not tolerate anyone abusing anyone in that manner,” the chief added. “We want to be totally transparent.”" Well, it certainly seems the chief has made up his mind prior to the completion of the investigation. Who would have ever thought a chief would throw an officer under the bus?

Pat1978
Pat1978

Something like this happened to me in training, except I got hit with sim round in the gut (paint rounds for Burgers and HCD). The fake bad guy even acted cool but he turned to where we couldn't see his right side, drew (very small motion) and shot both of us in less than a second.

This officer was incredibly fast and I had to watch it a few times while imagining the officer's line of sight and, after re-reading his words, his report was an accurate description. I almost couldn't believe he could see all that in the short time that it happened but I've been in two combat situations where time seemed to slow down so I know it's possible. Pucker level goes up when a suspect gets out of the car, he could run, fight, start shooting and any number of other things. The suspect reached for his waist (although he was just pulling his pants up, it was a high stress situation and could easily be perceived as something else) and then he turned away where the officer couldn't clearly see his right hand/side. If he waited to see if the guy drew a weapon or not, it would've been too late if he had one. He wasn't complying and he got bopped. The orders the officer gives are to keep everyone safe. Ignore them at you own peril.

I'm sure this officer will be sacrificed for political reasons. People who haven't been in these situations, and even a few who have, don't understand that even justified violence almost never looks right at first glance. Violence is ugly but it is sometimes necessary. If they could really put themselves in this situation, even just as a mental exercise, they might get it...maybe.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

"Hands out!"
[Reaches for his pants]

Dude clearly needed a belt.

tfort
tfort

Let me guess, “I feared for my life!”

Pacific Star
Pacific Star

These are poor tactics at best. This warrants a close look by the department.

JLo1
JLo1

Bad move officer! IDK what transpired before this, but you did wrong!

tfort
tfort

A cop with a criminal record? No way!

sizzle937
sizzle937

The other option was to shoot the kid. I think the cop chose the lesser.

Lawman777
Lawman777

This guy has been watching too many cowboy movies. Whacking someone with your gun in the head is a dumb move and one not taught at the academy. A MN cop used his gun to beat the driver's window open on a car and it misfired, lodging a bullet in the driver's head.

Marxest
Marxest

Wow, that was disgusting. A lot of times its these Italian cops that commit these offenses. Eye-talians, half of them are mafia scumbags. Its a shame Italy didn't get a "fat man" dropped on them during the war. Glad there was video to record this offense. I see a lawsuit in that young mans future.

InService
InService

I don't see in the video what I read in the Officer's report. Morally, I got no problem with him getting smacked to ground with the butt of a pistol. He didn't get shot dead for being a wannabe thug did he? If his momma would have smacked him in the head a little harder raising him maybe he wouldn't have been driving around a stolen car. All that said, this cop is toast.

joesmith1964
joesmith1964

Typical police work. The officer was terrified from the start, responded with unnecessary and potentially deadly violence, charged the victim with phony crimes and then proceeded to tell non stop lies about what happened. Yep, typical police work by a typical totally corrupt cop. Business as usual.