East Haven, Conn. Mayor Joseph Maturo is apologizing for comments he made yesterday that he now considers "off-collar". When asked what he'd do to reassure Latino residents following the arrests of police officers on abuse and discrimination charges, Maturo said he'd probably go out for a taco meal.
WPIX reporter Mario Diaz, who was interviewing Maturo, was stunned, saying the mayor's comment might not be an appropriate response to the federal arrests of East Haven officers on serious charges, but Maturo bristled, telling the reporter to take his "best shot".
His comments drew the ire of Hispanic activists and some state officials, including Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who denounced them as "repugnant" and "unacceptable", according to CNN.
Maturo today issued his public apology, saying his remarks made the situation worse: "I realize that it is my job to lead by example."
On Tuesday, FBI agents arrested four East Haven police officers, alleging a widespread pattern of abusive behavior toward Latinos, attacks on illegal immigrants, false arrests and more, according to AP. Agents charge the officers also intimidated witnesses, including other city police officers, clergy and even police superiors.
The FBI says the accused officers were a "cancerous cadre" who behaved like "bullies with badges", according to the Hartford Courant, which has the federal indictment.
The Justice Department has been looking into allegations against the East Haven police department of racial discrimination and abuse of Latinos and Latino businesses since 2009. Activists complained of excessive force by police, false arrests and unreasonable searches and seizures, according to the Los Angeles Times.