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Police officer fired for telling group of mostly minority men 'I'm a little trigger happy

A Hartford, Connecticut, police officer was fired Wednesday for threatening comments he made to a group of men during a trespassing stop. (Image source: New York Times video screenshot)

A police officer in Hartford, Connecticut, was fired Wednesday for making threatening comments toward a group of men he stopped on suspicion of trespassing, according to The New York Times.

The officer, Hartford Police Department's Stephen Barone, was captured on video implying that he was ready, possibly even eager, to shoot anyone who made a false move.

"If anybody wants to fight or run, I'm a little trigger happy, guys," Barone told the men, as one of them recorded the encounter. "I'm not gonna lie. You know, I get paid a lot of money in overtime if I have to shoot somebody, so don't do anything stupid."

What's the story?

The incident occurred in August, when Barone approached the group of four men who were sitting on a porch having drinks.

"At this point, you're all being stopped on the ... of trespassing," Barone told them. "We're going to get everyone's information and we're going to go through and make sure nobody's got drugs or guns on them. And we're going to get everybody's name."

The men seemed to be willing to cooperate with Barone, and that's when he issued the warning about being trigger happy. One of the men was heard expressing his discomfort with the comment, saying "that's spooky."

"There's four of you and one of me," Barone responded.

When other officers arrived, Barone said he had just been joking with the men when he made the comments.

Still, Barone was placed on administrative leave, then demoted to desk duty in September.

What did the department say?

"It's clear to me that there's no scenario in which Mr. Barone can return to his duties as a productive member of the Hartford Police Department," said Hartford Police Chief David Rosado in a statement.

"Our success as a police department depends on our relationship with the community we serve," Rosado said. "Every day, the men and women of the Hartford Police Department are out doing good police work with professionalism and respect, and this officer's conduct does not reflect the values of our agency."

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