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In Suit Over Connecticut Prisoner’s Death, Attorney General Will No Longer Represent Guard Convicted of Assault

On August 20, 2023, Connecticut newspapers reported that state Attorney General William Tong (D) announced his office would no longer defend a former state prison guard convicted of assaulting a prisoner in a civil suit filed over his subsequent death.

The unusual move leaves former state Department of Corrections (DOC) Lt. Carlos Padro, 57, personally liable for any damages if found guilty of violating the civil rights of mentally ill prisoner Carl “Robby” Talbot, 30, who died after an altercation with Padro and other guards at New Haven Correctional Center in March 2019. A coroner ruled the death a homicide, but Ansonia-Milford State’s Attorney Margaret E. Kelly decided no individual was liable.

Tong’s office will continue to defend the other 11 DOC employees named in a civil suit filed over Talbot’s death, citing the fact that Padro was the only one criminally charged. The former guard was allowed to retire after he was convicted in 2021 of kicking and pepper-spraying Talbot while the prisoner was already on his back on the floor. For that, Padro was given a one-year suspended sentence and three months on probation, which he requested accelerated rehabilitation to bypass. But Superior Court Judge Peter Brown denied him on September 9, 2020, calling his conviction “too serious.”

On the morning he died, Talbot—who was bi-polar with schizophrenia—was screaming and smearing feces on himself and his cell walls when guards escorted him to a shower. When the 400-pound man then refused to leave the shower, a struggle ensued. After Padro assaulted him, Talbot was left in a restraint chair, where he was found dead two hours later.

Colleen Lord, Talbot’s mother, filed a civil suit in federal court for the District of Connecticut in 2022, accusing a dozen DOC employees, including Padro, of violating her son’s civil rights when they responded with escalating violence to an emotional outburst attributable to his mental illness. The state had earlier responded with escalating punishment, too; Talbot was incarcerated at the time for violating probation after serving his original sentence for trespassing and disturbing the peace. The suit remains pending, and PLN will update developments as they are available. Lord is represented by the Laske Law Firm LLC in Fairfield. See: Lord v. Padro, USDC (D. Conn.), Case No. 3:22-cv-00322.

Though state law allows Tong to deny representation to any employee whose behavior is considered wanton, reckless, or malicious, attorneys on both sides of the case expressed surprise at the decision. Padro’s attorney, Jeff Ment, called it “puzzling” and fretted over the financial burden on Padro if he loses. Art Laske, Lord’s attorney, called it “almost unprecedented to leave a law enforcement officer high and dry—and to deny a victim’s family the ability to hold the state accountable for the wrongful actions undertaken by an officer while in the scope of his employment.”  


Additional sources: CT Insider, New Haven Register, Stamford Advocate

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