(CBS Connecticut) — A former Central Connecticut State University student known for online videos of drones firing a gun and a flame thrower today testified in New Britain Superior Court as part of his lawsuit seeking to be reinstated at the school. Austin Haughwout is challenging the process that the university used to kick him out.
Haughwout testified that he was in favor of gun rights, and suspected that a pro-gun control student had made the complaint that got him in trouble. He gave administrators the name of the pro-gun control student to see if he was the one who made the complaint.
Speaking softly and precisely, Haughwout testified that the school officials failed to tell him that he could have more time to prepare for a disciplinary hearing by asking for a delay, and that he only learned the names of the people who had complained about him at the hearing.
He said that if he had known the names of those people, he would have asked one of them to speak on his behalf.
Other students told administrators that the young man from Clinton threatened to shoot up the school. They claimed Haughwout told them who he would shoot first.
But Haughwout’s lawyer says the former student’s statements were jokes, protected by the first amendment.
Haughwout’s attorney Jon Schoenhorn had filed paperwork accusing the university administration of witness tampering, but in court, Schoenhorn said he had just learned that a message asking a student not to cooperate with Haughwout may have come from someone else.
The judge told Haughwout’s lawyer that making an allegation of witness tampering with such weak evidence was reckless conduct.
Haughwout’s father Brett Haughwout also took the stand.
He described sending two emails and making about a dozen phone calls to the head of Central’s student conduct department.
Student Conduct Director Christopher Dukes said that he had a phone call with Austin Haughwout, to notify him of a preliminary suspension, and to give him an opportunity to provide information.
Dukes testified that Haughwout was informed that he could call the office if he had any questions, but he was not specifically told that he could have asked for a delay in his disciplinary hearing.
Dukes testified that it was reported that Haughwout spoke about shooting up the school, named a person who would be his first target, made hand gestures like he was shooting a pistol, and made shooting sounds as people walked by in the student center.
One of the students who complained about Haughwout arrived at the disciplinary hearing, but Dukes testified that the student left after learning that he would have to be in the same room as Haughwout.
Today’s court hearing was preliminary. It’s purpose was to allow the judge to determine whether students who made complaints were identified by name in the disciplinary hearing, whether Haughwout got their names from police records that the got under a freedom of information request, and to investigate the content of a phone conversation between Haughwout and Dukes