An associate professor and the community college at which she teaches continue to remain silent about the academic’s arrest on a charge of making a false statement after she accused the Connecticut State Police of racial profiling.
Minati Roychoudhuri, 62, of Storrs, turned herself in to the state police barracks in Hartford last week after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She was charged with second-degree false statement and released on a $1,000 bond pending arraignment at Hartford Superior Court on Aug. 14.
Roychoudhuri did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
According to the arrest affidavit, Roychoudhuri cut off a trooper in a last-minute bid to get off the highway and, after receiving a ticket for improper lane change, accused him of racial profiling.
Connecticut State Police Sgt. Andrew Matthews, president of the Connecticut State Police Union and chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, said he has gotten no response to a letter he issued on Thursday to Wilfredo Nieves, president of Capital Community College. Matthews had asked the college to issue an apology on behalf of Roychoudhuri and to “hold her accountable for her illegal and malicious actions.”
Capital Community College spokeswoman Jane Bronfman said Tuesday that Nieves had no comment.
According to the college’s website, Roychoudhuri is also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Trooper First Class John Such was cleared of any wrongdoing through an investigation of the Bureau of Professional Standards and Internal Affairs following a May 9 traffic stop and Roychoudhuri’s subsequent allegations of racial profiling.
Roychoudhuri complained in writing to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro that she had been stopped on exit 85 of Route 5/15 in Wethersfield. She said the trooper asked if she spoke English and if she knew why he had pulled her over, but that he never explained the reason for the stop.
“His asking me if I could speak in English shows that he racially profiled me and was not able to give me a concrete reason for stopping me,” Roychoudhuri wrote.
The arrest affidavit included a transcript of the traffic stop obtained through dashboard camera footage. According to the transcript, Such explained the reason for the stop both on his initial approach and when he returned with a ticket.
The affidavit indicates Roychoudhuri cut off the cruiser driven by Such as she exited the highway after it was appropriate to do so.
“There’s that big gore area with white lines painted across it and you cut in front of it, in front of me thinking it’s a lane or something. You have to wait until it’s a dotted white line,” Such said in the transcript.
The transcript does not show Such asking Roychoudhuri if she spoke English.
During a June 15 meeting with state police investigators, Roychoudhuri verified the letter of complaint and signed a form acknowledging it is a crime to make untrue statements or to intentionally “mislead a public servant in the performance of his/her official function.”
The affidavit, written by Lt. Michael Davis of the internal affairs unit, said the department’s “thorough review” found that Such never asked Roychoudhuri if she spoke English. “The personal conduct displayed by TFC Such was exemplary in this motor vehicle stop and and there was absolutely no evidence to suggest that he racially profiled the complainant, but he merely initiated a traffic stop after witnessing a hazardous moving violation that occurred directly in front of his cruiser.”
State Police Spokeswoman Trooper First Class Kelly Grant said Tuesday that the department was advised by the court not to release the audio/video footage until the case goes to trial.
Matthews said the transcript is completely accurate. “I’ve seen the video and it’s pretty clear to me that [Roychoudhuri’s complaint] was absolutely false,” he said. “The worst part of it was her motivation was to ruin the reputation and career of one of the troopers.”
In her complaint to Schriro, Roychoudhuri asked for the ticket to be waived and for action to be taken against Such.
Matthews acknowledged Schriro and department command staff for following up on the complaint and charging Roychoudhuri with a crime.
“We give a lot of credit to our agency leadership for giving the support necessary to show the troopers in the field they have a lot of support from the command staff,” he said. “That’s all troopers are looking for: support from their leadership.”
Grant said this is the first time the department has brought charges against a citizen for making a false complaint of racial profiling.
“There was overwhelming evidence that helped investigators determine this was a false allegation,” she said.
In 2014, eight racial profiling complaints were lodged against the state police, according to Grant; none of them held up to investigation by the Internal Affairs Unit.
A detailed study of traffic stops made between Oct. 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014 showed that state police from the Hartford barracks are among those throughout Connecticut who were found to be more likely to stop black and Hispanic drivers.
The study, commissioned by the state and conducted by Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal Regional Policy, found “significant racial and ethnic disparity” in traffic stops made by troopers from the Hartford and Tolland barracks as well as by officers in Groton, Granby, and Waterbury police departments.
Roychoudhuri said in her complaint that Such checked the box indicating Hispanic ethnicity on her infraction ticket.
The arrest report also includes the Hispanic ethnic designation, though Roychoudhuri’s race is identified as Indian.
Grant said troopers determine whether or not a person is Hispanic by “their name or by asking.”