Officer explains fight that cost him job
“I think that day was the boiling point”
A former Springfield police officer charged with beating a man in February may have allowed rough times off the clock to spill over to patrol duties, according to internal affairs records.
Terminated by the city on May 9, Samuel Rosario faces charges of official misconduct and battery in connection with the beating of Robert Humes, whom the former officer challenged to a fight while responding to a call at Humes’ east side home. The incident, captured on Rosario’s body camera, has gone viral, with more than 1 million YouTube views of the altercation in which the officer gets the better of Humes in a fistfight.
Why did Rosario pick a fight with Humes, who had been criticizing police and arguing?
“I really don’t know,” Rosario told an internal affairs investigator. “It’s not like I went to work looking to fight for somebody or fight with somebody. … I think that that day was the boiling point. I think that day was the day that everything was just on my shoulders and just came down on me.”
Rosario’s superiors had noticed something amiss in the days before the incident. The day before the fight, Rosario was 10 minutes late to work – he told a sergeant that he had overslept and wasn’t staying at his house. When someone made a joke about being tardy, he said “Well, if you didn’t know, I’m having trouble at home and I apologize for being late,” according to internal affairs files.
“I was kind of worried,” Lt. Sara Pickford told internal affairs. “Something just bothered me when he like was late that day and then, you know, I heard he was having trouble with his family or whatever. (H)e just looked really sad when he came to work.”
When a sergeant shortly after the fight told her that something bad had happened and he needed to speak with her, Pickford had a hunch.
“I don’t know why, but I knew it was Rosario related,” Pickford told internal investigators. “I just had that feeling.”
Rosario wasn’t a perfect cop. He once slammed his hand on a car, apparently during a traffic stop. He also reportedly drew a Taser on a man in a warming center after the man, who was sitting on the floor, refused Rosario’s order to get up. Pickford recalled that Rosario once failed to turn in a requested report; on another occasion, he blew off a request to complete a change-of-address form.
Pickford told internal affairs that she began having doubts about Rosario. Then another officer brought an infant girl to the station after the baby’s mother said that she no longer wanted her daughter. Rosario fetched food, then, with Lt. Pickford assisting, cleaned the baby up.
“(H)er diaper was so dirty,” the lieutenant said. “I mean, it was disgusting and…Rosario and I went down to the locker room and, like, basically had to clean her up head to toe. It was awful. That kind of changed my opinion of him.”
Rosario told internal affairs investigators that he wasn’t living at home and was sleeping on someone’s couch – he estimated he’d gotten three hours of sleep the night before the fight with Humes.
“I mean, everything was just shitty, to say the least,” Rosario told investigators. “Again, sounding like a broken record, but I just wasn’t in the right mind. I was way out of character, wasn’t clearly thinking.”
Rosario said that he’d told superior officers the day before that he was having a hard time at home.
“When I told them that I had been struggling, I kinda got a blank stare, and I just stood there for a second and I was thinking maybe they were waiting for an explanation or they would ask me for one,” Rosario told investigators. “And when they didn’t, I just grabbed my camera and got my keys and went to work.”
Officer Orlando Manzanares, who witnessed the fight, did not immediately report it to superior officers. Instead, he watched footage of the altercation at least twice and spoke with at least two other officers, including a detective who is on the police union board.
“He’s been through a lot in the department and he’s been on the union and so I just felt it was someone I could speak to and get his opinion on the situation,” Manzanares explained when asked why he’d spoken with a union official before reporting the incident. “He pretty much just told me, you know, I have to do, you know, what I feel is right.”
Manzanares said that he may have watched footage of the incident as many as three times before coming forward. Why so many times?
“I still was just, for lack of a better word, shell shocked,” Manzanares told investigators. “I was hoping for more answers and just to get over, you know, what was going on.”
Contact Bruce Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.