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© Newhaven Independent
A state police raid on a Winthrop Avenue apartment netted no drugs or arrests - but it left Tomas Torres hospitalized and his apartment in tatters.

Torres (pictured), who's 54, said state cops broke down the door of his first-floor Winthrop Avenue apartment Wednesday afternoon, punched him in the face, stomped on his head, and then laughed at him as they tossed his apartment looking for drugs.

Police said he tried to jump out the window, then resisted their efforts to detain and handcuff him.

They had the wrong guy, said Torres. The police found nothing in his apartment and released him to go to the hospital, where he said he was told he has a fractured arm, he said.

It's the second recent incident in which an unarmed New Havener has accused a state drug cop of brutality.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, spokesman for the state police, said he had no record of state police action anywhere in New Haven on Wednesday. That doesn't mean that a search warrant wasn't executed, he said. He'd have a record if an arrest were made, he said.

"That sounds a little suspect right off the bat," Vance said when told of Torres' complaints. "We don't beat people up as a regular course of business."

Lt. Jeff Hoffman, who oversees the city's Tactical Narcotics Unit, confirmed that the Statewide Narcotics Task Force executed a warrant at 280 Winthrop Ave. Wednesday afternoon. Two New Haven cops are assigned to that task force and one of them may have taken part in the warrant execution, Hoffman said.

"I know that the task force had a lawful search and seizure warrant for that apartment," Hoffman said. He said he wasn't present at the police action. Cops have to convince a judge that they have evidence that drugs are being sold at a location in order to obtain a warrant.

Hoffman said Torres tried to jump out the window when police showed up. Then he resisted detention when police pulled him back in, he said.

Cops always knock and announce when they execute warrants; Torres must have known police were at the door, Hoffman argued.

Police did not charge Torres with any offense. In the end, they put him in an ambulance to go to the Hospital of St. Raphael to recover from his wounds.

"They way that guy was, they didn't need to go that far," said someone with knowledge of the incident. "They had enough guys. They must have had at least seven. I'm talking about big guys, husky, [handling] an old man. Even the short guy [the state cop Torres said hit him] - he was stocky."

Tomas Torres 2
© Newhaven Independent
On Thursday afternoon, Torres (pictured) offered his account of the incident. Here's what he said happened:

It was after 4 p.m. He was home at his first-floor Section 8 apartment at the corner of Winthrop Avenue and Chapel Street, where he's lived since May. He survives off of disability support from Social Security.

Tomas Torres 3
© Newhaven Independent
He was cooking pasteles and watching "Caso Cerrado" on TV when he heard someone pounding on his door.

Torres thought it was the crack dealers or users who sometimes hang out in the hallway of the building along with prostitutes. He said he keeps a pool stick behind the door to protect himself because he's worried for his safety with the dealers hanging around.

He asked who was there. No answer.

Torres looked out the window and saw cop cars. As he moved to the door, it flew open and cops poured in. Someone punched him in the face. They shoved him to the ground. One state cop, a short man, ground his boot into Torres' face as he lay on the floor.

The cops kept asking him, "Where are the drugs?" Torres said he didn't have any drugs.

The cops put Torres in a chair and handcuffed him, still asking where the drugs were. They laughed as they teased a cop who had gotten Torres' blood on his jeans.

The cops started claiming they had fought with him because he had the pool stick nearby and it posed a threat to their safety. Torres argued with them, saying they were inventing that story.

Eventually, a Spanish-speaking New Haven cop arrived and was able to speak for him, Torres said. The cops then put him on the ambulance.

Tomas Torres 4
© Newhaven Independent
Hours later, with his face swollen and his arm in a sling, Torres arrived home at 1 a.m. to find his apartment trashed. A mirror hung askew on the wall. Couch cushions had been flung about, along with his belongings. Dry spaghetti and rice spilled from his tiny kitchen into his carpeted living room. In the bedroom, Torres' mattress had been knocked off the milk crates that support it up. Clothes had been pulled out of his closet and lay in a pile on the floor.

Torres said he has contacted a lawyer and is looking into trying to sue the police.

His sister, who lives nearby, expressed outrage at the incident.

"He's a human," she said. "Not an animal."

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© Newhaven Independent