Aug 23, 2013
05:00 AMConnecticut Today
Hamden Man Thought Co-workers in Orange Would 'Hang' Him With 'Noose'
Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register
Wydell Sims of Hamden is alleging that co-workers committed a racist act while at work at Valley Tool in Orange.
Wydell Sims’ first thought was that they were going to hang him.
It was 11:30 a.m. May 9 and Sims, a shipping and receiving manager at Valley Tool in Orange, was sitting at his desk in the warehouse, alone.
He didn’t hear his two co-workers enter his workspace.
As he recalls, he turned and saw one co-worker standing by a bay door rattling a chain hanging from the ceiling. The other co-worker was behind him holding a rope tied in what Sims described as “a noose.”
Sensing danger, Sims stood up. That’s when the co-worker holding the rope approached and tried to drape it around his neck. Sims grabbed the co-worker’s wrists and pushed him away.
“I thought they were going to hang me,” recalls Sims, who is black. His co-workers are white.
Marcin “Martin” Jaworski, 29, was the chain rattler and Tadeusz “Teddy” Chmielewski, 60, was holding the rope.
In court documents, Jaworski and Chmielewski have said the incident was a joke, and that they visited Sims that day to obtain a chain so they could pull a piece of equipment, not to harm Sims.
Jaworski no longer works at Valley Tool, Sims said. Sims reported the incident to Orange police, who charged Chmielewski with disorderly conduct. Sims has not returned to work, and he and his attorney, Carolyn Smith-Stewart, claim that Valley Tool has mishandled the situation. They are planning to file a civil claim.
Chmielewski pleaded not guilty at Superior Court in Derby July 9. He is from Poland and has limited command of English; he appeared with a translator at court in Derby Tuesday. He is applying for accelerated rehabilitation, which allows first-time offenders to avoid a conviction if they meet sentencing conditions.
Chmielewski’s attorney, Lisa Mainolfi, declined comment on his behalf this week.
And although Sims says that he believes his co-workers might have been playing out a cruel joke, it made him feel “endangered.”
That a white man had tried to slip a rope around his neck rendered him speechless in the short term, and has caused him to suffer anxiety and sleeplessness, he says.