Hundreds of tacos sent to Conn. mayor for Latino quip

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., center delivers a proclamation to an employee in East Haven, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. Maturo has expressed remorse for saying he "might have tacos" to do something for his town's besieged Latino community - but he has no plans to step down.
AP Photo/Jessica Hill
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012
AP Photo/Jessica Hill

(CBS/Reuters/AP) EAST HAVEN, Conn. - Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. sparked national outrage earlier this week when responding to the issue of recent charges that members of the town's police department had been harassing Latinos.

When asked by a New York TV station, "What are you doing for the Latin community today?" the major responded with, "I might have tacos."

He got what he asked for: immigration advocates sent 500 tacos to his office for lunch on Thursday.

Maturo fled through the back door shortly before the delivery arrived. The group, Reform Immigration America, left him one taco as a symbol, and donated the rest to a soup kitchen.

Maturo said in a statement issued after the incident, "The abundance of tacos that we received today underscores the importance of the issues currently facing the town of East Haven and highlights the need for the town to continue the process of healing and reform that I initiated immediately upon taking office."

After an FBI investigation, prompted by complaints from the Latino community, resulted in the Tuesday arrests of four East Haven police officers on charges of racial profiling, excessive force and conspiracy against Latinos.

Officer Jason Zullo was released on $250,000 bail on Thursday. He was banned from returning to East Haven and ordered confined to his home, justice officials said.

The other three defendants had been released earlier on bails ranging from $100,000 to $300,000, each with varying terms, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut.

The police scandal and Maturo's reaction to it prompted calls for his resignation, including at least one Facebook group with more than 800 fans called "East Haven Taxpayers Calling for Mayor Maturo To Resign."

"The Latino community is upset and deeply wounded on what should have been a day of redemption for them," the commission's acting executive director, Werner Oyandel, said in a written statement, calling Maturo's taco comment "unprofessional" and "in poor taste."