Residents create GoFundMe page for fired Shelton police officers
SHELTON — Residents have established a GoFundMe page to financially assist the four police officers who were recently terminated.
The page, established Thursday by residents Michelle Laubin and Chris Jones, raised nearly $7,000 in less than one day. By Monday evening, they were just shy of $10,000.
“My heartbreaks for them,” Jones said. “They all have families and kids. This is about family. … These are our neighbors and friends. We wanted to help out with their family situations in this difficult time for them.”
Chief Shawn Sequeira said he fired officers John Napoleone and Michael McClain and Lt. Dave Moore last month for dereliction of duty. Napoleone and Moore are the police union president and vice president, respectively.
According to their termination letters, Napoleone and McClain were fired for allegedly failing to properly investigate a domestic violence complaint against a Bridgeport police officer and Moore for allegedly covering it up. Sequeira said an internal affairs investigation led to the terminations.
Weeks later, Sequeira fired officer Caroline Moretti for allegedly lying and for conduct unbecoming a police officer in connection with photos posted on the police union’s Facebook page, which appeared to show officers changing their clothes outside, according to her termination letter.
Sequeira said an internal affairs investigation led to the firing of Moretti.
All four have filed grievances over their firings.
Laubin, who is a member of the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation, said action needed to be taken to support the officers “who are being left with no means of paying their bills and feeding their families.
“They have done nothing wrong, but they are being targeted by the city administration,” Laubin said. “While they are going through the grievance arbitration process with the state Labor Board, they have no way to support themselves.”
Sequeira called claims of retribution or targeting officers “absolutely not true.”
“No one wants to see anyone get fired,” Sequeira said. “I personally hired (Moretti). I did not want to see her fail. But this is black and white, not subjective. They lied and attempted to cover it up. That is unacceptable.”
Sequeira said “people make mistakes … and we are willing to retrain, to work with them … but you need to own up to your mistakes, and we can try to get past it. If you lie and cover it up, unfortunately, you are probably going to be terminated.”
Laubin said the fired officers cannot get other law enforcement positions under the circumstances, and, in some cases, their certifications as law enforcement officers are at risk.
“These are officers who have done heroic things for the people of Shelton, in some cases literally rescuing people from burning buildings,” Laubin said, referring to Moretti’s help pulling a 91-year-old man out of a burning High Street home June 24, “and how they are being mistreated by the city is simply beyond comprehension.”
“We hope that the people of Shelton will rally around these heroes and help them and their families in their time of need,” Laubin added
The funds raised on the page will be distributed to the officers, who Laubin and Jones said were subjects of “retaliatory disciplinary” punishment by Sequeira and need money to pay for “basic expenses and support their families, and then to funding their legal fight against the city.”