New Canaan Police Face Discrimination Complaint

A town woman says police harassed her during a 2009 traffic stop.

Saying she was targeted as an African-American and then denied her rights, a town woman has filed a discrimination complaint against the , according to documents obtained by Patch.

Shawn Soljour, 45, said in a complaint filed Dec. 12 with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities or "CHRO" that she was stopped two-and-a-half years ago and ticketed for allegedly running a red light. Soljour, who works in the town's , said in her complaint that she was "subjected to racial profiling and a false arrest" due to her sex, race and color.

"I am a black African American female who was stopped and issued summons ... on or about August 15, 2009," the complaint says. "The officer involved, Officer [James] Kim, asserted that I had failed to obey a red light ... This was not true and when I attempted to file a bias complaint with the respondent, Lt. [Bill] Ferri of the respondent Police Department sided with Officer Kim and refused to allow me to file a complaint about his racially motivated police action. As a result of this action by Officer Kim, I was subject to an ongoing and continuing pattern of harassment, arrest and criminalization."

Soljour declined to comment when reached by Patch. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi declined to


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comment. New Canaan Police Chief Edward Nadriczny confirmed the department had received a letter from CHRO on Dec. 14. He declined to comment, citing the ongoing state investigation.

According to Soljour's complaint, Nadriczny admitted in a July 30 letter that Ferri "had acted improperly in his denial of the opportunity to file a timely complaint."

Soljour said in her complaint that the department's actions were "compounded" by state Superior Court in Stamford, which "initially found me not guilty and then refused to hear my evidence in a second retaliatory trial, which then subjected me to an arrest by the respondent responsible for the initial discrimination."

CHRO officials confirmed that they'd received the complaint and notified Nadriczny that he had 30 days to answer. Details of the "second retaliatory" trial Soljour referred to are unclear, and it isn't clear how the police department responded. Patch will update this article as details emerge.

[Editor's Note: The PDF attachment has been removed from this article.]

Michael Dinan (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
AD: Thank you for your comment. Patch will get confirmation of this from CHRO today and circle back to this thread, but our understanding is that a citation/infraction offense such as for running a light does, under CT statutes, constitute an arrest.
Glen K Dunbar February 08, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I have to side w/Police in this case. She ran a red light. Mr. Kim pulled her over to give tix. He did NOT know who it was when the car ran the red light. So, how can this lady say He did it racially motivated. New Canaan Police would NEVER predjudice against a person based on race. That is ridiculous for her say that. Maybe New Haven or Bridgeport or East Haven or NY. But, not New Canaan, Darien, Stamford or Norwalk. Those guy are honest I may not be perfect and I admit that. Though we can debate who fault that is. Society say I am responsible for my own action. I say "horse feathers" to that. Anyhow, I know for a fact that the Police in this case are NOT at fault GLEN
Tom February 08, 2012 at 03:41 PM
My wife was given a citation for violating CT Sec14-299 (Sec. 14-299. Traffic control signals. Right turn on red.) violation as well. For the record she is a caucasion. Her race had nothing to do with the traffic stop by New Canaan police. I believe that the New Canaan Police Department strictly enforces most of Title 14 for motor vehicles. Sec 14-314. Penalties refers to a violation of 14-299 as an infraction. In the absence of other infractions or penalties it would result in a ticket.
Tom February 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM
My wife was given a citation for violating CT Sec14-299 (Sec. 14-299. Traffic control signals. Right turn on red.) as well. For the record she is a caucasion. Her race had nothing to do with the traffic stop by New Canaan police. I believe that the New Canaan Police Department strictly enforces most of Title 14 for motor vehicles. Sec 14-314. Penalties refers to a violation of 14-299 as an infraction. In the absence of other infractions or penalties it would result in a ticket.
Anne Nonimus February 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Good point Tom.
Anne Nonimus February 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Good point Tom
Four Jacks February 08, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I believe her. I have never found the police to be helpful or nice in any instance in this town. They are currently pulling over every teen they can find and giving their drug dog a tour of the car. Maybe they're not pullng over 50-year-old white women, but believe me, they are not as innocent as you all think. Try asking a cop for help, what do you get, "just say no".
emily February 08, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Obama needs to get envolved for a "Beer Summit".
NewCanaanVoter February 08, 2012 at 06:16 PM
"She ran a red light. Mr. Kim pulled her over to give tix." Why do you assume she is lying about not running the red light? Because she's black?
joe February 08, 2012 at 07:49 PM
the prisons are filled with innocent people.sounds like someone is playing the race-card.this seems like a case where she should be forced to pay some restitution if it is deemed that she is in fact guilty.
Canaanite February 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I don't know about the New Canaan Police . . . My husband was pulled over for running a red light - which, FOR CERTAIN, was not the case! Further, the officer hassled him and was rude and said inappropriate things to him when he said he didn't know why he was being pulled over . . . My husband was incensed at being treated like a lowly criminal (by a rookie cop with a wet nose, no less). He filed a complaint with the chief. He should have also contested the ticket . . . He did NOT deserve it. The light was not red, and he is the safest, most law abiding driver around. I also got a ticket for running a red light once . . . I am always careful about this, since I know the police are everywhere . . . I can say in my case, the light was yellow - I was already in the intersection when it turned yellow . . . Cop was just being a hardass . . . One could argue that was justified, but I doubt it. (I still stand by my husband's innocence though, that was NOT justified.)
joe February 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Shawn K. Soljour, 44, of Birchwood Avenue turned herself in on a warrant from Norwalk Court for failure to pay or plea in court at 10:20 a.m. on Feb. 5. The warrant stemmed from a motor vehicle charge that she did not pay or plea for on Jan. 26, according to police. Soljour posted $250 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 18.
joe February 08, 2012 at 08:00 PM
above was 2 years ago. soljour was involved with yet another motor vehicle offense.
Four Jacks February 08, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Because the cops are always right, aren't they??
Four Jacks February 08, 2012 at 08:33 PM
And you've received zero tickets in your life?
joe February 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM
gloria the cops are not always right but they are not always wrong. who would a fair minded person believe: a cop who claims to have witnessed a moving violation or a driver with a checkered driving history????
Four Jacks February 08, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Joe, let's just say that I have an insider view on cop behavior, so I know what really goes on. Why don't you google Kenneth Moreno, or "cop arrested" and that will give you just a taste. The average person is more honest than the average cop. Remember, some people fill the uniform, others hide behind it, in NC it's mostly the latter.
Justin Smith February 08, 2012 at 09:38 PM
See the following Patch article: http://newcanaan.patch.com/articles/a-hero-defined I doubt that Officer Kim is racist or discriminatory. A hero - yes.
J Bauer February 08, 2012 at 09:40 PM
When it comes to traffic infractions, the system is set up to give police the benefit of the doubt. If for no other reason than the fact that we would need massive traffic courts otherwise. So, besides all of that... the truth of the situation here is probably one of four variants: 1. she blew the light and the cop ticketed her appropriately 2. She didnt blow the light and the cop ticketed her mistakenly (accidents do happen) 3. she didnt blow the light and the cop ticketed her just to be an ass because he was having a bad day or who knows why or 4. the cop ticketed her because she is african american and he is prejudice. I listed those in order or probability as I see it. As for the police in New Canaan, I have no complaints... I find that in my limited interaction with them, they have been nothing but respectful and helpful but I am sure that is not always the case with every officer, so who knows.
Roy A. Abramowitz February 08, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Officer James Kim is not a racist. I have had many interpersonal encounters with Officer Kim and my conclusion is that he is honest, fair and personable. Just recently he was chimed as a hero, saving a youth. Like all of us Officer Kim is a human being. Human Beings have differences of opinion. Human Beings at times can make mistakes. Was a mistake made, or not made in this instance, I do not know I was not there. However I can say that I am sure that Officer Kim acted in the most professional manner and in no way based his action(s) and decision making on a discriminatory or racist basis. Blaming everything on race is ridiculous especially a traffic ticket. How did the officer know what the occupant's appearance was until after he pulled the vehicle over, got out of his patrol car and proceeded to speak to the driver. Maybe the driver is being racist and discriminatory against the police officer.
Glen K Dunbar February 09, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I have never met Jim. Yet, I have seen him around and heard conversations He has w/folks in town. He seems like a nice regular guy. He is always very neat and nice to people. Did I not read recently that He saved a Child or something? Anyhow, I do not feel he tix her for racial reasons. Police will nit pick at times, not only in New Canaan but anywhere. Yet, we all and all have a good group of guys on our force.
joe February 09, 2012 at 01:22 AM
it's absurd to assume that nc cops are bad.It's ludicrous to give an individual with multiple driving infractions the benefit of the doubt over the officer.i guess an african american women could not run a light in this town. NC is filled with racist cops, hiding in bushes waiting to ticket and arrest any and all blacks that step foot in the next station to heaven. Gloria, you don't make sense.
Jennifer Walsh February 09, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Regardless of who is right or wrong in this case, I think it raises broader questions pertaining to race, class and diversity in our community. Since most of us are middle/upper class white caucasians, I for one am asking myself how people of other colors or ethnicities who live, work, or visit New Canaan experience our town. The month of February is our national Black History month. This would be a good time for us to consider our own views and to explore events in our shared histories that might cause the kind of tension that has resulted from Ms. Soljourn's case. The legal process hopefully will fairly determine who might have been wronged at the time of the red light incident and the days following. In the meantime, how about we slow down in passing judgement on either party, so that we might take time to reflect on our own assumptions about other people in our midst. I feel incredibly lucky to live in New Canaan. However, as a member of such a privileged community, I feel it is our personal and collective responsibility to confront our own ignorance about each other and those who pass through our lovely town. If we do this, New Canaan will be an even greater town in which to live, work or visit.
J Bauer February 10, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Jennifer, you must have endured so many hours of corporate sensitivity training that you have lost count by now. We have a wonderful town... or village... or whatever Tucker wants us to call it :) I think people should come here and enjoy the town for what it is, a lovely, welcoming place that happens to be fairly homogenous. If that offends some people, that's their problem. (In the years I have lived in NC, I have personally observed very little, if anything that can be counted as prejudice.)
mary parker February 10, 2012 at 05:00 AM
The Police in this town are not prejudice. They treat all as equals. Some may be more agressive and unfriendlier than others but by no means racist. Maybe at times to impolite when you ask them why you are being pulled over or when a road is closed and you need to get down that road to a house, they get uppity. But in no way racist. If you go through a yellow light that as you are in the middle of the intersection it turns red before you clear the intersection, there should be a leeway as far as ticketing a vehicle in that situation. They should also check all traffic light timers to allow time for a person going through a yellow light to get through the intersection. I have been issued to red light tickets in the past when I was in the middle of an intersection and the light went from green to yellow then red in 3 seconds. Had a rookie cop give me the riot act and thank god for the sergeant on duty told the cop to back down. Most times people are running red lights especially in town and this is a big problem but running a yellow light shouldn't warrent a ticket but a warning. Also why did she wait so long to file and why didn't she plea not guilty and go to court and tell the judge she was filing a complaint and post poning the decision on her ticket fine? Yes it is police against citizens when in court and yes the police almost always win but 2009 till 2012? ok
NewCanaanVoter February 10, 2012 at 05:31 PM
"I think people should come here and enjoy the town for what it is, a lovely, welcoming place that happens to be fairly homogenous." Those two statements aren't independent. It's a lot easier to be ostensibly lovely and welcoming when you live in a relatively homogenous town. There is actually some really good ethnography exploring this fact. If you read the book "The World We Created at Hamilton High" it has a really good explanation of why this is the case and how the social dynamics work.
Teri February 12, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Paul - why do you think Michael, your regional editor, didn't at first want to put his byline on this story. Didn't you have to request that he did that. How much of your copy does he rewrite/report with out his byline?
joe February 13, 2012 at 12:21 AM
diversity is very overrated by many.
Peggy March 02, 2012 at 09:41 PM
"White Privilege" I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege on my life. I have chosen those conditions which I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographical location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live. 3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. 4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. 5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. 8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege. 19. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race. 21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared. 24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my race will not work against me.
NewCanaanVoter March 03, 2012 at 12:27 AM
That's a good list, although personally I think this blog post does a better job of explaining the concept of privilege better than anything else I've seen: https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/ It's easy to make lists of the effects of white privilege or what have you, but sometimes it's still difficult to understand what this actually means at a phenomenological level.


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