Discipline is pending against a rookie state trooper accused of stealing a gun ammunition-loading magazine from a Newington shop two weeks after he graduated from the State Police Training Academy last summer – an incident captured by the store’s video surveillance cameras.
Romello Lumpkin, 26, of Bloomfield, is seen on the video tucking the ammunition magazine into the waistband of his shorts at the counter of Newington Gun Exchange when the employee who was waiting on him and others were apparently distracted.
The shop declined to press charges, and Lumpkin eventually returned the $40 item.
The case was referred to the State Police Division of Internal Affairs for investigation, and Lumpkin’s possible discipline will be decided by Commanding Officer Colonel Stavros Mellekas, said Brian Foley, assistant to public safety Commissioner James Rovella.
“The matter is being handled by Col. Mellekas and is not finalized yet,” Foley said.
Lumpkin remains in uniform at the Troop H barracks in Hartford, and CT Examiner has attempted to contact him through the state police union that represents him.
Union executive director and spokesman Andy Matthews said union policy is not to comment on open criminal or internal-affairs investigations.
Lumpkin was one of 100 troopers who graduated from the training academy on Aug. 26, 16 days before the Sept. 11 theft.
An incident report by Newington police, bolstered by the security video, gives the following account:
Lumpkin entered the store shortly after 4 p.m., and after being helped by an employee decided to buy a 12-round magazine for a Sig Sauer Model P365 pistol, which are issued by state police.
When the transaction was almost complete, the employee walked away, leaving on the counter both the 12-round magazine and a 10-round magazine that he had shown Lumpkin for comparison.
Within seconds, Lumpkin placed the 10-round magazine in a box that had contained the 12-round magazine.
He then lifts his shirt with his left hand and slides the 12-round magazine in his waistband with his right hand before pacing in front of the counter and glancing up at security cameras before the employee returns.
“Lumpkin leaves with both magazines in his possession having only been charged for one item,” according to the report. “As he leaves, he is seen making eye contact with each of the store surveillance cameras.”
The 10-round magazine was discovered missing during a subsequent inventory check a few days later, and the shop tracked Lumpkin down through payment information connected to his purchase of the 12-round device.
Lumpkin agreed to return it, the report said, which he did several days later.
When contacted by Newington police, Lumpkin “became confused and sounded nervous,” and described the situation as a misunderstanding.
While awaiting the decision on discipline, troopers who have spoken to CT Examiner anonymously say many of Lumpkin’s colleagues are angry and exasperated that Lumpkin has been allowed to remain on the job, saying it damages the agency’s and their individual credibility.
“Our command staff has an obligation to make sure that every man and woman who wears the state police badge serves with integrity,” one trooper said. “We’re just hoping that they will do the right thing and hold this guy accountable.”
The matter comes as Mellekas also is weighing discipline against eight state police recruits in the current training class of about 60 troopers who are alleged to have cheated in the process of taking a written test.
That class is scheduled to graduate March 24.