A 10-day suspension and a transfer out of the State Police Troop H barracks in Hartford is the recommended punishment for a rookie state trooper accused of a theft last summer from a gun shop in Newington, according to information obtained by CT Examiner.
Under the proposal, Trooper Romello Lumpkin will be transferred to the State Police Troop D barracks in Danielson effective Feb. 25, according to a personnel order obtained by CT Examiner that was signed by State Police Commissioner James Rovella and distributed to all state police barracks and other units.
Rovella’s assistant, Brian Foley, has referred all inquiries to State Police Commanding Officer Colonel Stavros Mellekas, who will make the final sign-off on discipline.
Mellekas has not responded to multiple requests for comment over the last week. CT Examiner is seeking documents through the state’s Freedom of Information Act related to the internal investigation and discipline against Romello — one of 100 troopers who graduated from the training academy about two weeks before the Sept. 11 theft.
Lumpkin, 27, of Bloomfield, did not reply to a request for comment sent Tuesday to his state email account.
State police union Executive Director Andy Matthews would not address the proposed discipline directly as it is still pending, but said he expects it to be “concluded in the very near future.”
Video taken by security cameras at Newington Gun Exchange show Lumpkin taking a magazine used to load a pistol off a counter and placing it in the waistband of his shorts when the employee who was waiting on him briefly walked away.
The employee had shown Lumpkin the stolen 12-round magazine and a 10-round magazine for comparison.
When the employee walked away and others were distracted, Lumpkin placed the smaller device in an empty box that had contained the larger one.
“An employee returns and retrieved the box for the 12 round magazine (Which actually contained the 10 round magazine),” according to a report written by Newington Officer Thomas Bugbee.
“The employee scans the barcode on the box and Lumpkin is charged for the 12 round magazine which he was carrying in his waistband,” the report states. “Lumpkin leaves with both magazines in his possession having only been charged for one item.”
The shop’s owners declined to press criminal charges after contacting Lumpkin and he agreed to return the $40 magazine, the report said.
The owners had reported the incident to the state police internal affairs unit, which advised them to notify Newington police.
When Bugbee reached Lumpkin by phone, “Lumpkin immediately responded ‘That was all a misunderstanding,”’ Bugbee said in his report. “Lumpkin then asked what was going to happen next and if he was going to be arrested.”
Bugbee told Lumpkin that the shop had banned him from entering the store again, but was not seeking theft charges against him.
The incident and proposed punishment have drawn highly-critical comments from many active and retired troopers, including on private social media sites viewed by CT Examiner.
“He is a probationary state trooper, meaning he is still in the working test phase, and as such should be terminated,” read one post that was among dozens on a Facebook page dedicated to state police issues.
“Imagine what happens if this guy stays, makes an arrest and shows up on the witness stand,” read another. “Any public defender would destroy him.”
Another trooper’s post simply read: “Premeditated, calculated larceny. Fire him.”