NEW BRITAIN - The three men in the Toyota Paseo police say they believed was involved in several violent robberies in recent weeks came to New Britain Thursday night to buy drugs and wound up shot by officers as they tried to flee, police reports are saying
The 20-year-old driver died after he was struck in the neck.
A 15-year-old was injured.
An 18-year-old also was hit. And, according to the limited information released by the state police, there are differing accounts to exactly why.
State police have taken over the criminal investigation, an internal investigation is under way and the Middlesex State’s Attorney is probing the use of force. The Connecticut ACLU chapter is calling for a “transparent” investigation.
The 15-year-old was issued a juvenile summons for carrying weapons in a car, carrying a pistol without a permit and possession of narcotics and released, as required under state law, state police said, and they have not released the name of the 20-year-old.
Noah Young, 18, of Bloomfield, was grazed by a bullet during the incident and charged by state police with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and risk of injury to a child. He told police the three were headed to Bristol to see a girl but decided to get off the highway in New Britain Thursday night to buy Percocet painkillers. Instead, the trio bought several bundles of heroin, he said.
Officers had been on the lookout for a green Toyota Paseo used in four violent street robberies in New Britain the past two weeks. During one attempted robbery on Monday, two victims were on Kelsey Street when they were approached by four or five males, state police said. One of the males pulled out a gun and demanded that they get out of their car. As the victim gunned the accelerator to get away, the male fired several shots at the car. Within the same hour, during a second robbery, a victim was pistol-whipped.
Police saw a car that matched the description on Chapman Street Thursday night at about 6:30 p.m.
Police began to follow the car, and when it stopped at the intersection of Chapman Street and Chapman Court, several officers boxed it in with their marked and unmarked cruisers - the number of cars was unspecified.
Young told state police that the trio didn’t want to be stopped, so they tried to drive away, but the police began ramming into their vehicle. He denied involvement in any robberies, but said he bought three bundles - or 30 bags - of heroin for his own personal use prior to the incident.
New Britain officers told state police investigators that the 20-year-old began ramming the police vehicles and officers outside their car. Fearing for their safety, police fired at the two people in the front seat. State police said more than one officer fired but would not say how many.
A gun was found on floor of the car near the gas and brake pedals, state police said.
Young’s family members cried Friday afternoon as New Britain Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander ordered him held on $1-million bond. Young has a juvenile record but no adult arrests, and he wasn’t on probation or parole at the time of the shootings, court officials said. His attorney told the judge that he was living with his mother and was “trying to better his life.”
A man who identified himself as Young’s father stormed out of the courtroom when the judge announced his bond. The man, who declined to give his name, later said, “If you pray, don’t worry; if you worry, don’t pray” as he was leaving the courthouse. He declined further comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut called for New Britain police to release any video footage of the incident Friday.
“At the minimum, when the police shoot and kill someone, the public deserves full transparency,” said Executive Director David McGuire in a statement.
The officers involved have been assigned to desk duty, New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com