NEW HAVEN – A former New Haven police officer is trying to regain his position after resigning after an internal investigation into which he was found to have violated the department’s regulations in sexual interactions with two women. .
The police union assists former officer Gary Gamarra in his application for reinstatement, stating that he is “entitled to due process”. Acting boss Renee Dominguez, however, is seeking the revocation of his state certification and says: “We will not tolerate any behavior that would dishonor the badge.”
The internal affairs investigation began in November 2019 and July 2020, respectively, after Beatrice Codianni, executive director of the network for sex workers and allies, shared allegations by two women that an officer later identified as Gamarra had requested sexual acts from them, according to IA Say report documents.
The police department released internal reports as well as related memos and emails in response to a request for freedom of information. Gamarra could not be reached for comment.
The complainant in the 2019 case investigated by Detective Ryan Macuirzynski reported that she was stopped by the officer in the fall of 2019, and the officer said at the time that he would not arrest her, but she “owed him,” it said Macuirzynski’s report. Days later, the woman met Gamarra while he was driving his own car; he reminded her of the previous incident; According to Macuirzynski’s report, she later had sex with him while he was driving.
“(She) said the officer never used a weapon or attacked her, only ‘verbal violence’,” Macuirzynski wrote. “She said her options were to ‘get molested and run over’ or ‘give him (a sex act) … and he will walk away.'”
The applicant in the case investigated by Detective Kealyn Nivakoff reported that the officer, later identified as Gamarra, repeatedly stopped her after responding to an argument between her and a male friend.
The complainant said the officer called her on Ferry Street in July 2020 and ordered her to get in the car. She felt “obliged to get in the car because he was an officer,” according to Nivakoff’s report
According to the report, the officer drove to another area where they had sexual intercourse. The woman said she cried during the interaction but didn’t tell him that she didn’t want to have sex or stop.
“(The woman) stated that she felt she had no choice but to have sex with him and that the officer” raped “her,” Nivakoff wrote. “(She) stated that she never told the policeman that she didn’t want to have sex with him because she was afraid to tell. (She) stated that she felt she had to do it because he was ‘the law’. “
Macuirzynski and Nivakoff, along with other officials, interviewed Gamarra about the allegations in December 2020. (Gamarra initially denied sexual contact with one of the women, but changed his mind during the course of the interview and said, “(expletive)” and admitted according to Nivakoff’s report agreed to both encounters. He said the sex was consensual, according to the report. “
“(Gamarra) stated that he was having problems with his girlfriend at the time and that his aunt had just died of cancer,” wrote Nivakoff. “(He) stated that he just wasn’t thinking and he just didn’t care at the time.”
Macuirzynski said Gamarra violated the department’s code of conduct regarding policies and procedures.
“(Gamarra’s) actions are being held at a higher level, and he has destroyed the trust and respect of the citizens whom he served in his New Haven police positions,” Macuirzynski wrote
Gamarra resigned on December 18, but tried to be reinstated on December 28 through a union complaint, according to a letter Gamarra wrote to senior police officers.
“(D) The way I was forced to resign was unfair and compulsive,” wrote Gamarra in a letter to former police chief Otoniel Reyes and the president of the local Elm City Police Union, Florencio Cotto. “I want to go back to work as a New Haven cop.”
Marshall Segar, an attorney for Elm City Local, said in a statement the city was obliged to restore Gamarra’s position because it had failed to respond adequately to his complaint.
“The Union has filed a complaint on behalf of Gary Gamarra. The basis of the Union’s complaint is that the city did not reinstate Gary after he withdrew his letter of resignation. The city has not taken any action to accept or decline the letter as needed. So Gary submitted a timely resignation and has to be reinstated, ”said Segar. “The city’s failure to act is a violation of the CBA as the city’s failure to act turned resignation into dismissal, thereby engaging in the complaints process. Simply put, regardless of the allegations made against Gary, he is entitled to due process. “
But Reyes and Dominguez both wanted the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council to revoke Gamarra’s certification.
Dominguez said POST is considering Gamarra certification revocation application.
Karen Boisvert, administrator of the POST academy, said the process had started but the matter had not been brought to the organization’s governing council.
Dominguez condemned Gamarra’s actions, saying the department would investigate such matters quickly now and in the future.
“We obviously take this very seriously and don’t believe this is law enforcement or New Haven Police Department standards,” Dominguez said.
Prosecutor Lisa D’Angelo said in a memo to Lt. David Zannelli, Internal Affairs Director of the Police Department, said there was no likely reason to arrest Gamarra.
In a recent press release, SWAN expressed displeasure with the decision not to arrest Gamarra.
“This decision sends the message that sex workers who are victims of sexual violence cannot expect justice and contributes to a climate of impunity for violence against sex workers, which is often committed by law enforcement agencies,” the organization said in a press release. “Sex workers deserve protection from abuse and violence. Police officers must be held accountable if they cause harm to community members. Sex work is work and should not be criminalized. “
Dominguez asked anyone with information about Gamarra’s actions to take a step forward. Prosecutors have expressed their willingness to re-examine the matter if further evidence is presented, she said.