By many accounts, former Naugatuck police officer Tom Grant was a heck of a street cop – the type who remembered the names and faces of known criminals in the area, what they were up to lately and how to track them down.
Grant, a 39-year-old veteran officer, even received an award for helping to save a life in 2011.
But the man who worked his way up the ranks from dispatcher to patrolman in the Naugatuck Police Department seemingly battled a fierce substance abuse problem that led to physical altercations with significant others, violent public outbursts and serious displays of disrespect to his superiors within the department. It may have also led Grant to abuse narcotics, even while on the job, according to statements made to officers by police informants, some of whom are also convicted felons.
Those details are spelled out in more than 150 pages of internal affairs documents regarding an investigation into Grant, who resigned on May 3 minutes before the Board of Police Commissioners was set to act on whether to terminate him after his second domestic violence incident and several violations of departmental policies and procedures. The Naugatuck Police Department released the internal affairs documents to the press on Friday following Freedom of Information requests.
Alcohol Abuse and Domestic Violence
Grant had signed a "last chance agreement" in 2009 given to him by Police Chief Christopher Edson. It said Grant would not abuse alcohol and it came on the heels of an incident at a Rubber Avenue bar in which Grant was drunk and belligerent as he yelled at his superior officers who wanted him to go outside and cool off. But Grant, who had also been arrested for domestic violence in 2007, found himself in trouble once again in January of this year. That was when his former live-in girlfriend accused him of being intoxicated and getting violent with her because she wouldn’t take a bath with him. She told police that following the Jan. 23 argument, Grant punched her in the leg with a closed fist, pulled out a chunk of her hair, used racial slurs and threatened to kill her and himself.
According to the ex-girlfriend’s statement to police:
- On Jan. 24, Grant scared the ex-girlfriend’s children so much with his actions that their grandmother had to pick them up and bring them to her house.
- Grant then told his ex-girlfriend he should “blow his brains out” and that he should kill her, too.
- He also told his ex-girlfriend’s mother that he was going to shoot her in the head and shoot himself.
“I heard Tom say, ‘I’m going to kill everyone,’” the ex-girlfriend is quoted as saying in the report.
Grant then took his gun, his gun belt, uniforms and left for the evening, according to the ex-girlfriend’s statement. Grant ended up calling in sick from his shift at the police department that next day.
‘It was apparent he was intoxicated’
On Jan. 25, Grant’s ex-girlfriend filed a domestic violence complaint against him, and police searched for Grant to discuss the incident and check on his well-being.
At 12:40 p.m. that day, Naugatuck Police Detective Sgt. Ronald Hunt and Sgt. Bryan Cammarata went to a house on Frederick Street, where they heard Grant was staying. Grant went outside and started creating a scene as he yelled in the street, according to a police report.
In the report, Hunt and Cammarata say of Grant’s response: “He immediately started yelling, ‘What did that (expletive) accuse me of now?’ It was apparent to me that Grant was intoxicated. He continued to yell and stated that we should arrest him, that he was sick of all this (stuff).’”
Grant continued to yell, and Hunt was able to convince Grant to go to the police department headquarters to discuss the issue further. Once in the police cruiser, Grant began to yell and scream again. When they saw now-retired Capt. Jeremiah Scully and Lt. Greg Dean in a car, Grant became enraged.
“Ofc. Grant began yelling profanities and flipping off both Capt. Scully and Lt. Dean as they drove away,” the report states. “Grant continued to behave erratically, as he would be calm for a few minutes and would then become argumentative.”
Grant was told he was being taken by ambulance to Waterbury Hospital for evaluation.
“During this time, Grant made a statement saying, ‘I should have shot myself when I had the chance,” the report states.
Claims of Drug Abuse
Grant was ultimately brought before the police commission on May 4 because he violated the "last chance agreement," which officially stated that for a period of four years, he would commit no alcohol related violations of the borough’s work rules, including department policies and procedures; if he did, it would constitute just cause for discharge.
However, when the domestic incident occurred, internal affairs investigators were already piecing together an extensive report about still unsubstantiated claims that Grant had frequently used illegal narcotics. Officers started looking into claims of Grant’s drug abuse on Jan. 20, five days before they arrested him for the domestic. That was when the Watertown Police Department provided information to Naugatuck police that informants told them Grant attempted to purchase prescription pain medication from a Waterbury resident and that he uses crack cocaine and prescription medication with a Watertown resident. A registered federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms informant also said he saw Grant use illegal prescription medication, had sold him heroin and had seen him use it while on duty, the report states.
The informant, who is a self-professed illegal narcotics abuser himself, told police that he supplied painkillers for Grant and “gave him the drugs for free because he looked the other way for (the informant’s arrest) warrants.”
The informant also said he bought heroin for Grant about 20 to 30 times, and that he did this because “it was nice to know you had a cop on your side,” the report states.
In tape-recorded interviews with police, Grant continuously denied he bought or used drugs. He did admit that he associated on a personal level with a convicted felon and registered sex offender, and that he was with someone when that person bought cocaine at a bar in Waterbury, the report states. That person, whom Grant said was a friend, recently died of a suspected drug overdose. Grant was said to have been distraught over the man’s death.
Grant, who is listed as 6-feet, three-inches tall and 230 pounds, also denied that he ever physically assaulted his ex-girlfriend. When police asked Grant why his ex-girlfriend had a bruise on her leg, Grant blamed it on her running into a wheelchair at her job.
And when asked by police whether he believed his ex-girlfriend obtained a bruise and then made up an elaborate story about Grant giving it to her so Grant would lose his job, the former officer replied simply: “Yes I do.”
Chief Christopher Edson states in the report that he believes all of the internal affairs findings are justified, and he recommended a termination hearing before the police commission.
Grant, who earned just under $64,000 in base salary last year, resigned before being fired and is eligible to collect a pension from the borough when he is 60.
Lt. Robert Harrison, Naugatuck police spokesman and head of the internal affairs division, said Grant is not being criminally prosecuted for alleged drug use.
“Some of the information obtained falls outside of the statute of limitations and there were some discussions with the Waterbury Superior Court (prosecutor’s office) about whether it would be handed in a criminal fashion, and we didn’t feel (the information) rose to a level where it would be substantive enough,” Harrison said. “All criminal and administrative investigations into Tom Grant are concluded at this point.”
Grant’s criminal case at Waterbury Superior Court has been referred to a family relations officer. He has not yet entered a plea and is expected to appear for another court date on June 19.
Grant could not be reached for comment for this article. As of late last week, many local officers said they did not know his whereabouts.