Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part story detailing the lawsuit filed this week by former Acting Chief of Police Patrick T. McMahon charging his unjust termination.
Former Acting Chief of Police Patrick T. McMahon’s lawsuit, filed Dec. 3 in New London Superior Court, disputes the findings of an independent investigation by Attorney Eric P. Daigle, which led to his termination last February, asserting McMahon was not drinking alcohol, not in uniform, nor carrying a department-issued firearm during the alleged Sept. 29, 2011, Mezzo Grill incident.
He was in civilian clothes and wearing a personal sidearm and “a badge he purchased for use when he was not in uniform, to identify him as a police officer,” the complaint details. “Whether on-duty or not, the plaintiff had to be prepared to take police action in the event of certain unanticipated circumstances,” the suit reads.
McMahon’s lawyer, Leon M. Rosenblatt, says the original badge stays at all times with the police uniform, per police protocol.
Daigle, out of the state on another project when the suit was filed, offered a statement regarding the McMahon v. Middletown, et al. lawsuit.
“I conducted a professional, complete, and unbiased investigation into the allegations against Patrick McMahon. During the course of my investigation, I conducted more than 25 interviews of individuals from multiple departments and agencies. The witnesses were found to be credible and reliable. I stand by my investigation, and the conclusions reached therein. Mr. McMahon’s allegations are baseless,” Daigle writes to Middletown Patch.
McMahon’s suit alleges the former acting chief of police did not consume alcohol but purchased several alcoholic drinks for others at the bar during an event held after the funeral of a firefighter. “Even if he consumed alcohol,” the complaint says, “however, it would not have been improper or illegal, for he was off-duty, not in uniform, and he was not intoxicated.”
“I believe I had a club soda with lime,” the Daigle report says McMahon testified.
The Daigle report speaks specifically to this incident: “When asked why he had been unable to recall whether he had a drink at Mezzo when speaking with the mayor [Sebastian N. Giuliano] less than two weeks after the event, McMahon responded, "lf you asked me if I had a drink last Sunday at dinner, I would say, ‘I don't remember.’ It's not unlike me to have a drink with dinner. It is unlike me to have a drink at a bar.”
According to the exhaustively detailed, 184-page Daigle report, after the decision was made to conduct an investigation, McKenna contacted Dave Maurice, the owner of Mezzo Grille, seeking possible video surveillance from Sept. 29, 2011.
“I thought it was very odd that not only was the chief of police with a badge and gun exposed, but anybody,” the Daigle report has Maurice saying. “It's the first time he's ever seen anybody drinking with a gun in a bar. And, he kind of felt awkward because he's basically the boss of that establishment that night.”
“‘Being the chief of police,” Maurice is quoted as saying, “I gave him a free one. I actually handed it to him. I saw him drinking the beer.’” McMahon disputes that allegation. Further, the female bartender that night testified she remembers the owner saying, “‘I'll get the first one,’ and giving a beer directly to McMahon. She testified, however, that she did not see him actually drink from the bottle and she never saw his attire.’”
McMahon’s suit presents a long-term, close friendship between now Chief of Police William McKenna and the independent investigator he recommended, Daigle, who presented his report on McMahon’s alleged indiscretions.
“Number one, you don’t pick someone you’ve known since junior high school, their fathers worked together at Xavier High School, and they are social friends,” says Rosenblatt, referring to McKenna retaining Daigle as an unbiased individual.
“Number two, you disclose the relationship. It’s a foolish pick for anyone if you’re purporting to be retaining,” someone who is entirely objective,” Rosenblatt says.
The next step in this suit, Rosenblatt says, is “a long period of discovery,” in which he conducts a number of depositions, or interviews, with witnesses.