By Mary Ellen Godin
HARTFORD, Conn (Reuters) - A Connecticut mayor apologized on Wednesday for saying he "might have tacos" as a way to heal strained relations with his town's Latino community, blaming stress for his "off-collar" comment after a sharp rebuke from the state's governor.
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. was being interviewed by a WPIX television reporter on Tuesday about the arrest of four police officers for excessive force and conspiracy against Latinos when he was asked, "What are you doing for the Latino community today?"
"I might have tacos when I go home," the mayor answered.
His apology on Wednesday came hours after Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy denounced Maturo's comments as "repugnant" and representing "either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable."
Shortly after the WPIX broadcast, Maturo blamed fatigue for his comments following what he described as a long day of giving interviews about officers federally indicted for routinely injuring, threatening and intimidating Latinos.
As criticism mounted on Wednesday, Maturo issued a new statement with his "sincerest apologies... for the insensitive and off-collar comment," apparently referring to the off-color comment about tacos.
He said he was under pressure from the media attention surrounding the police indictment.
"Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example," Maturo said in the statement.
As far as healing the community, Maturo described several steps he has taken to add a Latino voice to a committee that influences police procedure and said civilian complaint forms against police have been updated to include versions in both English and Spanish.
(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch)