Former New Canaan Cop Sues Over Disability Pension


A former New Canaan Police Department K-9 officer, placed on leave and ultimately dismissed two years ago following his arrest on animal cruelty and other charges, is suing the town in connection with his claim for disability retirement, records show. 

David Rivera faces two years in prison after pleading guilty this month to gun and explosives charges. He also was charged with cruelty to animals—and, specifically, multiple counts for violating a law against intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding or killing an animal.

On April 10, the Town Clerk’s office received a complaint filed on Rivera’s behalf by attorney John Bochanis of Bridgeport-based Daly, Weihing & Bochanis LLC, saying that Rivera on May 22, 2022—weeks after the initial arrest— “filed an application with the Defendant [Town of New Canaan and Funded Retirement Plan] for a disability retirement.”

“In response to the Plaintiff’s disability retirement, the Defendant requested that the Plaintiff be examined by a medical doctor to determine whether the Plaintiff suffered a service connected disability,” the complaint said. “The medical examination of the Plaintiff confirmed that the Plaintiff sustained a service connected disability and therefore the Plaintiff should be granted a service connected disability pension. The Defendant has failed to grant the Plaintiff’s service connected disability application, continuing to ‘hold’ the Plaintiff’s disability pension application wrongfully using as a basis to ‘hold’ the application, section 16.5 of the Pension Plan.”

He is seeking monetary damages and “such other and further relief as in law and equity may pertain.”

The general manager and other workers at Rivera’s former 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 that Naugatuck PD issued in May 2022. 

Rivera has additionally had a handful of legal dealings with the town. Weeks prior to his arrest, he brought an injury-related compensation grievance. In September 2022, he filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities claiming discrimination and retaliation, saying the town “constructively discharged” him that summer and wrongly failed to pay him wages and benefits.

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