Former NCPD Officer Files Discrimination Complaint


A former New Canaan police officer, arrested this year on felony animal cruelty, weapons and explosives charges, has filed a complaint with a state agency saying that the New Canaan Police Department discriminated and retaliated against him.

According to a complaint filed by David Rivera with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the town “constructively discharged” him last month and wrongly failed to pay him wages and benefits.

In a Sept. 6 transmittal from the CHRO, Rivera claimed that the town has violated state law as well as the Civil Rights and Americans with Disabilities Acts.

“I am Puerto Rican and my color is brown,” Rivera said in an affidavit that forms part of his complaint. 

“On or about December 7, 2016, I was injured during the course of my employment with the Respondent,” he said in the affidavit. “I injured my left wrist, left shoulder, left elbow and cervical spine (herniated disc). As a result of the injuries I sustained I had to have surgery to my left wrist and left shoulder. Due to work related injuries I have been out of work from April 2021 to date. On or about May 2021 I had hand surgery on my left wrist. As a result of my work related injury I have been on injury leave since April 2021 through April 2022. On or about April 27, 2022 I was placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately by the Respondent’s chief of police.”

Yet, Rivera said, NCPD hasn’t paid him wages and benefits while on leave.

“Due to my work related injuries and resulting physical disabilities, the Respondent initiated an internal investigation of me after I applied for a disability pension,” he said in the affidavit. “The Respondent’s refusal to pay my wages and benefits while I have been on paid administrative leave is retaliatory based on my previous filing of CHRO complaints … The Respondent’s actions are also discriminatory based on my physical disability resulting from injuries to my left wrist, arm, shoulder and cervical spine. The Respondent’s actions have caused me to be constructively discharged on Aug.15, 2022.”

The town has 30 days to file a response. 

David Rivera. Mugshot courtesy of Naugatuck Police Department

Rivera made headlines this spring when he was arrested on felony charges of illegal use and possession of explosives, then turned himself in to Naugatuck Police on a warrant for conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, first-degree reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine. 

The general manager and other workers at his Naugatuck-based canine training business shot and killed at least 10 dogs there, according to police. Alerted by state and other authorities about possible animal cruelty at Black Rock Canine Training—a facility for prospective military and police dogs, as well as for privately owned canines by individuals seeking such training— Naugatuck detectives and Animal Control officers found “that numerous canines of all ages and breeds, including German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers, have been abused and injured during their time at Black Rock Canines,” according to a press release issued by Naugatuck PD.

In June, Naugatuck Police charged him with an additional count of felony animal cruelty. He has not yet pleaded to the charge, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.

He has pleaded not guilty to the explosives and weapons charges, and is scheduled to appear Oct. 5 in Fairfield. He also pleaded not guilty to earlier animal cruelty, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to practice veterinary medicine without a license, and is scheduled to appear Oct. 11 in Waterbury on those charges. 

Rivera last summer sued the town, saying it discriminated against him due to his color and ancestry after he’d applied three years prior for a position in a specialized unit of NCPD. The town denied the claim and the case remains active in state Superior Court, scheduled for the short calendar next week. In the week’s prior to Rivera’s arrest, the Police Commission denied a grievance that he’d brought regarding compensation.

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