Police report explains why ‘suspicious’ man was kicked out of Ridgefield High School football game

Ridgefield police

Ridgefield police

Ridgefield Police / Contributed

RIDGEFIELD — A man was ordered to leave a Ridgefield High School football game in September after a mother and daughter told police they heard he had a gun and was dealing drugs, according to a recently obtained police report. 

The rumor “spread quick” across the football field that night, but police said they did not find a gun or drugs on the 23-year-old Ridgefield resident, who was told to leave the school grounds or he would be charged with criminal trespass, according to the report. He was not arrested. 

Police’s response to the incident sparked questions about why the man was ordered to leave, why some cops failed to turn on their body-worn cameras and whether there were enough officers at the game that night. 

The man was at the football game against Greenwich High School on Sept. 16 to watch his younger brother play and was known by Ridgefield police from previous incidents. 

Spectators at the game had reported to Ridgefield High School staff that a person was acting "suspicious," according to an email Superintendent Susie Da Silva sent to the community after the game.

No weapon found

Ridgefield Police School Resource Officer Luis Fernando and Capt. Jeffrey Raines, who were working at the game, were approached by a mother and her young daughter who reported that kids near the visitors' side of the field said they saw a Black man with a gun, dealing drugs, the report said.

“The mother stated that her daughter and her friend didn't see anything and it was told to them by other unknown kids,” the report states. “She said she didn't want to make a big deal about it.”

Police found the man, who was white and wearing all black clothing, a black face mask and a puffy jacket, according to the report, which notes that the theme of the game was "blackout-wear all black clothing." They patted him down for weapons but didn't find any, according to the report.

"(The man) was being belligerent towards everyone. He pulled his mask down and began walking away toward the grass area of the lower field (Ridgebury exit),” the report said. 

Police then recognized the man from past incidents at Ridgefield High School and a "past history with the department." No details about the incidents were included in the report. 

At some point, the man began walking toward Field 2, police said. RHS Principal Jacob Greenwood then told police he didn't want him on school grounds, according to the report.

Police told the man to leave school grounds or be charged with criminal trespass, the report said.

The man "eventually apologized for his behavior towards us but was still upset over the way it was handled," Raines writes in the report. 

Body cameras, officers at game

In the report, Raines said the entire incident was not captured on his body camera "due to not activating it until I realized it wasn't on." Two other officers also forgot to activate their cameras. No footage is available prior to that from the units on scene, the report said.

In an email from Raines Thursday, he said due to how quick everything occurred, they didn't initially activate their cameras.

All officers involved in the incident completed a review of the body-worn camera policy, Raines said. He said this was the first time the body cameras weren't activated since police deployed body cameras in September 2021.

Per the report, Da Silva told Raines she was unhappy with how the incident was handled. There were two officers working the game, when the high school requested four, the report said. 

Raines said two officers were assigned to the detail with two supplemental officers from patrol.

In a phone call Thursday, Da Silva said she doesn't remember the exact details of the incident and could have been frustrated because she received many calls from people that evening.

She added she felt there were "plenty of police" on site that evening and that police usually fulfill the schools' requested number of officers. Staff members, on that evening and others, supplement police officers for crowd control and parking when needed. 

"After every situation that's like this, we come together. We discuss. We meet. We say how can we be better and we move forward," she said.