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Hartford detectives disciplined after confronting two Black students in West Hartford while on duty

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    HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) — A Hartford Police Department detective has been disciplined after abandoning his duties to confront two Black high school students at his home in West Hartford.

Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody released a statement on Thursday saying the department has imposed a 10-day suspension on Detective Phil Borkowski.

The statement went into detail about the alleged incident that occurred on August 26, 2019.

It was revealed that two Conard High School students who are Black, were knocking on doors around 9 p.m., trying to raise funds for their football team.

Keesha Answer, a mother of one of the boys, tries not to think about what could’ve happened.

“And I think about the other boys that didn’t make it home to tell their mothers about what happened,” Answer said Thursday night.

The boys happened to knock on the door of two married Hartford Police Department detectives.

Borkowski’s wife, also a Hartford detective was off duty and was home when the students were knocking on the door.

The statement said Borkowski’s wife called her husband, who was on duty in Hartford, claiming she was scared. Chief Thody said while there are slightly differing accounts of what happened, the wife was apparently worried enough to call her husband.

With two other officers in his car, Borkowski drove to the house.

The high schoolers said the detective that lived at the house got out of the car and asked what they were doing and why they were out. Both students told police the detective told them his wife and children were scared.

Thody said there was no physical interaction between the boys and the Borkowski. They also said he did not use derogatory language, threaten, arrest, or ask for identification.

One of the high schoolers said the interaction lasted for two or three minutes and the other said it lasted five to ten minutes. Borkowski said it lasted 43 seconds.

In the statement, Thody said one of the young men said the detective gave them “a whole bunch of attitude.”

Borkowski told his supervisors that once he found out they were conducting a fundraiser, he wished them good luck on their football season. After the interaction, the officers left West Hartford and returned to Hartford.

Thody said he became aware of the incident on August 28, 2019 when officials in West Hartford referred one of the young men’s mother to him. A citizen complaint investigation began that same day.

Thody said the incident “was a totally unnecessary interaction between law enforcement and residents” and he “completely understands why she feels the officers’ response was racially motivated.”

During the Internal Affairs Investigation, six charges were investigated: harassment, neglect of duty, discourteous attitude, conduct unbecoming of an officer, violation of code of conduct, and civil rights violation.

Thody said two allegations were sustained which were neglect of duty and violation of the code of conduct. Thody said Borkowski was suspended for 10 days. A second detective was suspended for 2 days

Both detectives accepted their discipline on Thursday.

Answer believes the black students were racially profiled though this letter from April says otherwise.

Answer tells Eyewitness News her son is traumatized and says she is helping him heal.

“I don’t want him to be with that view of officers,” Answer said. “I want him to know that’s not how it’s supposed to be.”

Chief Thody says while the incident does not excuse the detective’s behavior, Borkowski gave him some additional context that he believes is relevant to explain the events of that day.

Borkowski told Thody in early 2019, months before the incident in question, his wife called him while he was at work expressing concern that someone was banging on the door. He told her to lock the door.

When the detective arrived home, he found footsteps in the snow around his house.

Thody said the Borkowski apologized profusely following the incident with the two boys.

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Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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