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The Fitch Files: Arrested twice for multiple felonies and misdemeanors, a Connecticut State Trooper remains on the payroll

On July 12, 2019, Gregory W. Smith, a sergeant with the Connecticut State Police, was arrested on charges that he had engaged in numerous instances of physical and verbal domestic abuse toward his wife, Katarzyna Smith.

State police officers at Troop K in Colchester were alerted to the abuse when Mrs. Smith arrived at the trooper barracks on July 11 hoping an officer would escort her to her home, so she could gather some of her belongings. 

After interviewing her, listening to audio recordings she made of the abuse and viewing photographs of red marks and bruises on her body that she had taken, the police issued an arrest warrant for Sgt. Smith for “Family Violence offenses of Assault in the Third Degree, Threatening in the First Degree, and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree,” according to the Internal Affairs investigation.

Mrs. Smith claimed that on July 7, 2019 Sgt. Smith had put her in a choke-hold, knocked her to the ground and pointed a gun at her. It was the latest in a series of domestic incidents in which Mrs. Smith claims she had been shoved, injured, hit and had chunks of her hair pulled out by her husband.

The audio recordings transcribed by investigators, show Mrs. Smith screaming, accusing him of knocking her to the ground and abusing her repeatedly, Sgt. Smith threatening to take his own life and Mrs. Smith screaming “don’t point the gun at me.”

From Internal Affairs transcripts of Mrs. Smith’s recording on 7/7/19

According to a court affidavit and statements to investigators, Sgt. Smith had also “put a firearm under her chin on two separate occasions.”

The police interviewed Mrs. Smith’s family members and employer who confirmed that Mrs. Smith had told them of the abuse and the threats with a firearm. 

Following his arrest on July 12, 2019, Sgt. Smith was immediately suspended pending an Internal Affairs investigation. The arrest was covered by the media, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

Mrs. Smith moved out of their home and filed a no-contact protective order against her husband. However, as the couple sought to try keep the marriage together, the protective order was eventually amended to prevent any contact outside of marriage counseling.

The couple attended marriage counseling throughout the fall of 2019, but Mrs. Smith finally filed for divorce in early January. 

Sgt. Smith was then arrested again in January of 2020 for violating his protective order after Mrs. Smith came to police with text messages from her husband showing him contacting her and photographs of his car parked outside her apartment.

The investigation into Sgt. Smith’s original arrest in July sustained four violations of officer rules of conduct, including conduct that results in the inability to perform essential job functions, commission of felony or misdemeanor, engaging in physical domestic violence and conduct that reflects negatively on the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The investigators were unable to corroborate whether or not Sgt. Smith pointed a gun at his wife or held a gun to her neck or under her chin on other occasions.

The second investigation sustained three charges, which included commission of a felony or misdemeanor, commission of an intentional act of deception during an investigation and conduct that would reflect negatively on the department.

Of the seven violations that were sustained, five include the potential for termination, but that never happened. 

Instead, Sgt. Smith remains on the state payroll, although his police powers have been permanently suspended and he now works in a non-public facing job, according to Brian Narkewicz, Commanding Officer in the Media Relations Unit.

A Short and Ugly History

The lengthy and detailed investigations by Internal Affairs portray a toxic relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Smith, following their engagement in 2018 and marriage in January of 2019.

Although everything went well while they were dating, marriage proved to be an unhealthy mixture of arguments over money, family and jealousy. The abuse began early on in the marriage, according to Mrs. Smith, and promises by Sgt. Smith to change never came to fruition.

The arguments and fights, which would sometimes turn physical, began to escalate. The history of these incidents, and the relationship in general, are messy, as destructive and abusive relationships tend to be. At times, Mrs. Smith says she fought back physically in self-defense.

Interviews with both Sgt. Smith and Mrs. Smith showed that on at least two occasions, Sgt. Smith grabbed Mrs. Smith by the hair hard enough to pull it out, which Sgt. Smith tacitly admitted during the investigation, conceding that “it could have happened.”

Throughout the interview with investigators regarding the July 7 incident, Sgt. Smith parses his words. He claims the alleged choke-hold was more of a bear hug: “Could I have grabbed her hard enough where she could have fell? Yeah, but it just didn’t feel that way to me.”

Sgt. Smith admitted to closing his hand over her mouth, so she couldn’t scream and closing all the windows in their house, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear her scream. He then contradicted himself later on in the interview by saying he didn’t remember doing so.

From Internal Affairs transcripts of Mrs. Smith’s recording on 7/7/19

Sgt. Smith also denied threatening to take his own life, saying he meant that he would end the marriage, although a suicide threat is transcribed on the audio recordings. He also says that he was merely holstering his gun when his wife screamed not to point it at her. 

“I won’t ever say that I, I know I didn’t point a gun at my wife. Did I take it out of the, you know, thing and you know, did I turn and she’s coming toward me, and I’m, you know doing like a, maybe a wide sweep. Ok. But I never looked at her and just drew and pointed it at her,” Sgt. Smith said during his interview.

He later admitted that he may have accidentally “lasered” her legs while he was holstering his weapon, referring to a laser-sighting mechanism on his gun.

Although Sgt. Smith said he was upstairs in the bedroom when he had his weapon out, investigators determined it was more likely this occurred downstairs, in line with Mrs. Smith’s story.

Sgt. Smith also admitted to going into his wife’s phone and deleting pictures and recordings, some of which investigating officers were able to recover.

Mrs. Smith went to the hospital twice following these fights; once in May of 2019 for an injury to her arm, which she says she sustained when Sgt. Smith shoved her into a wall. Sgt. Smith accompanied her to the hospital where she admittedly told doctors that she had fallen.

The second hospital visit was for injuries to her knees and neck following the altercation in July.

We certainly could have tried to terminate, but we likely would have lost that case with labor. Getting rid of problem employees is one of the greatest challenges to police chiefs and departments.

Brian Foley, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the DESPP

During the investigation into the second arrest, the situation becomes a bit messier as the couple sought counseling. During that time, Mrs. Smith amended the protection order, so the couple could attend therapy, but they would occasionally agree to meet, having dinner following a marriage counseling session.

However, Sgt. Smith began texting Mrs. Smith for reasons not related to therapy and driving to her apartment to sit in his vehicle outside in the parking lot in violation of the restraining order.

Investigators found Sgt. Smith used his state vehicle to travel to Mrs. Smith’s apartment on at least one occasion, something Sgt. Smith denied in his statements.

The back and forth accusations between the couple – who said or did what and when – were parsed out through the Internal Affairs investigation. Mrs. Smith photographed Sgt. Smith’s vehicle in her parking lot and provided text messages corroborating her story.

Sgt. Smith told investigators that he and Mrs. Smith were dating again during this time, but the texts, other forms of communication, meetings and his traveling to her apartment violated the restrictions laid out under the terms of the restraining order.

Investigators also determined that Sgt. Smith had lied twice during his interview regarding his contact with Mrs. Smith and his gaining access to and deleting information from her phone.

Mrs. Smith filed for divorce on January 6, 2020 and filed a complaint with the Southington Police Department on January 21 that Sgt. Smith had violated his protective order twelve separate occasions. 

The Southington police arrested him on two counts of violation of a protective order on January 24, 2020.

For her part, Mrs. Smith has been vocal about her experience with abuse on social media.

In a phone conversation exactly one year after the July 7, 2019 incident, she described herself as feeling “anxious” and says she is working with domestic violence groups in order to cope with the memories.

“I’m Gonna Lose Everything”

Despite the multiple sustained findings against him and upcoming court dates in August and September for the charges related to the July 7, 2019 incident and violating the restraining order, Smith remains employed by the Connecticut State Police but has no police powers.

When Mrs. Smith attempted to find out what discipline the department meted out, she was met with a union contract that forbids revealing disciplinary action without the officer’s consent.

“That information is part of his personnel file, and under his union contract he has to consent to the release,” wrote Jennifer Koerlin, a paralegal with the Legal Affairs Unit of DESPP, in an email to Mrs. Smith on May 7, 2020.

However, in a statement emailed to Yankee Institute, Narkewicz says Smith was demoted from Sergeant to Trooper First Class as of May 8, 2020.

“On May 6, 2020, the agency entered into a stipulated agreement with this employee in lieu of termination. A stipulated agreement is binding and not appealable,” Narkewicz wrote. “His police powers were permanently suspended, and he gave up all rights to earn overtime. Smith no longer has a State vehicle and must drive himself to and from his new assignment at Fleet.”

Under the State Police Union contract, demotion is considered serious discipline.

Sgt. Smith made between $148,000 and $156,000 per year including overtime between 2017 and 2019, according to state payroll data. The demotion to Trooper First Class lowered his projected base salary by $10,000.

As part of the stipulated agreement, Smith can never work for the state again, thus waiving his rights under the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition, and must leave state service immediately on July 31, 2020, the date Smith becomes eligible for a full state pension and retirement benefits.

As part of the stipulated agreement, Smith can never work for the state again, thus waiving his rights under the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition, and must leave state service immediately on July 31, 2020, the date Smith becomes eligible for a full state pension and retirement benefits.

Assistant to the State Police Commissioner Brian Foley says terminating Smith would have likely been overturned by arbitration, forcing the State Police to issue back-pay.

“We certainly could have tried to terminate, but we likely would have lost that case with labor,” Foley said in an interview. “Getting rid of problem employees is one of the greatest challenges to police chiefs and departments.”

Terminating police officers has been notoriously difficult to uphold. Unionized public employees can file a grievance against disciplinary action, including termination, and an arbitrator can overturn the discipline if the employer has not shown “just cause.”

The court system regularly sides with arbitrators and police departments and the state can be forced to rehire problematic employees and award them back-pay.

Foley said the stipulated agreement that keeps Smith earning a salary and receiving his pension benefits was the best option “based on the totality of circumstances.”

Foley says law enforcement officers have a higher likelihood to engage in domestic violence, and the department is trying not to discourage women from reporting an abusive husband who happens to be a cop.

“If the officer is terminated, it will have permanent ramifications on the victim,” Foley said, noting that the loss of income like salary and pension could leave the victim unable to get financial compensation from their spouse in a divorce.

“The last thing we want to do is discourage abuse victims from calling the police,” Foley said.

Smith is due in court on August 4, just days after he reaches his twenty years of employment with the Connecticut State Police force to face the charges of third degree assault and first degree threatening and reckless endangerment.

He also has a court date in September for two counts of violating a protective order, which is considered a Class C felony. 

In the transcribed recordings of their July 7, 2019 fight in which Mrs. Smith was forced to the ground, injured and reportedly had a gun pointed at her, Sgt. Smith lamented that he would lose everything if she called the police on him.

“I’m f**king gonna lose everything I f**king worked for, 19 f**king years, and I’m going to f**king lose it know (sic),” Sgt. Smith is recorded saying.

However, with Smith still employed because of a union backstop, and just a few weeks away from getting full pension and benefits from the state, it appears he hasn’t lost everything, after all.

**Meghan Portfolio contributed to this article** 

**Due to the size and nature of the IA documents, we are unable to provide them in this article. However, hard copies are available upon request**

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(5) Comments

  1. Nathan Winslow

    October 14, 2020 10:34 am

    Smith left with his full pension

  2. Thad Stewart

    July 11, 2020 1:56 pm

    The unions, and liberal politics here are the real problem. The vetting process is a joke. And the fact that there are racial quotas to be filled are as problematic as it comes. Pensions need to become a thing of the past, and individual retirement accounts need to be the same as the private sector. Anything else breeds corruption and a lack of care in the work environment.

  3. rick b

    July 9, 2020 9:47 pm

    A Meter Maid on Wheels earns $156,000
    for writing tickets. Most of them have never
    taken their gun out in their whole 20 year career.

  4. Frank lupo

    July 8, 2020 9:25 pm

    I’m certainly not defending or condoning anything Smith did but it sure is easy to bash the police now that it’s the flavor of the month for ignorant miscreants across the globe.
    And I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a staunch democratic voter in CT. Well the crooked Democratic politicians that run this state are owned by the unions that protect bad eggs like Smith. So instead of going for the low hanging fruit and bashing the police when it’s the hip thing to do and you’ll get zero resistance, maybe you should do a little digging on the corruption at the highest levels of government at the hands of Democrats after democrat after democrat who are all being puppeteered by unions.

    • rick b

      July 9, 2020 9:49 pm

      You are so right,but
      what’s worse is these
      people do nothing useful
      in their entire career.

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