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Town Named As Defendant In Ongoing Lawsuit

Published: July 21, 2017

WATERBURY — In state Superior Court, the Town of Newtown has been named as a co-defendant in an ongoing lawsuit, which was lodged in 2016 by a state prisoner against a Newtown police detective in connection with a past arrest. The town clerk’s office received the document of notification on July 10.

Inmate Justin Hazel, 32, who is serving a five-year sentence at Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield on an unrelated larceny conviction, gained court permission to add the town as a defendant.

The original defendant is Detective Daniel McAnaspie. During the course of the lawsuit, the court has removed as defendants from the case Assistant State’s Attorney Warren Murray and Superior Court Judge Cara Eschuk.
Hazel is representing himself in the legal action.

According to Hazel’s lawsuit, on April 18, 2015, McAnaspie submitted a “frivolous” arrest warrant application for Hazel’s arrest in which McAnaspie stated that a crime laboratory had matched DNA evidence, which was found on a cigarette butt in a stolen car, to Hazel. The criminal incident occurred in April 2014 at Concord Ridge Road in Newtown.

In July 2015, police arrested Hazel on a warrant on charges of second-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, and sixth-degree larceny. Police then alleged that Hazel burglarized a house and stole a motor vehicle, plus various items, from a home.

In the legal papers, Hazel alleges that McAnaspie made false claims in his investigation of that crime.

The Newtown criminal case against Hazel was dismissed in court in March 2016. Hazel claims that he was arrested for a crime that he did not commit.

Hazel alleges that his civil rights concerning unreasonable searches and seizures, as specified by the Fourth Amendment, and his rights to due process under the law, as specified by the Fourteenth Amendment, were violated.

Hazel is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants in the overall amount of $700,000.

Asked to comment on the pending lawsuit, Police Commission Chairman Joel Faxon said, “Mr Hazel is a convicted felon and a serial criminal who has a lot of time on his hands given that he now resides in prison. With that time, he was able to handwrite a lawsuit suing the wrong party, claiming that one of our detectives deprived him of his rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m certain that once the legal process is completed, the case will be dismissed with prejudice.”

State Judicial Branch records indicate that Hazel has been convicted in six separate criminal cases.

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