Last week I posted about the latest Eric Smith incident here. As part of that , I filed an FOI Request with the Hartford Police Department for any dash cam from the Officer's car that was attempting to stop Sergeant Smith as he raced South on I-91 at excessive speed, right before he crashed..
Unlike Deputy Chief Foley, who seems to understand the meaning of transparency and public information, there is another gatekeeper for the HPD information vault. Detective Ursula Weibusch is the brick wall between the public and openness at HPD. I figured it was somewhat odd, having dealt with her in the past, to get an e-mail Tuesday that my FOI request was ready to be picked up with everything I had asked for including the video.
I picked up the packet as instructed and reviewed the documents. Interestingly the video showed Sergeant Smith racing down the snow covered road and then cross a few lanes of traffic to quickly exit I-91 onto the Capitol Area exit.. The officer stayed a distance behind Smiths Truck as he exited onto the Prospect Street Exit by Arch Street, The video clearly shows Smith blowing through the intersection and the Red traffic light at about 35 MPH and make a quick left onto Arch Street.
The video then shows Smith heading South on Prospect in a reckless manner on the snowy and icy street. Toward the end of the video it shows Smith losing control of his vehicle... and then the video suddenly ends. Conveniently apparently right before he crashes into a light pole snapping the pole off and right before it landed across Prospect Street.Conveniently also right before Smith exited his vehicle bleeding and according to sources staggering.
Even though I asked for "any dash cam video" I didn't get it. After several e-mails back and forth and at first being told the video somehow ended abruptly and no more existed, today HPD seemed to backtrack and said there were 3 more segments of video they would be releasing to me tomorrow.
The accident report is also interesting since there was no mention of the high speed reckless travel of the vehicle before the crash. The only mention by Officer Stachowicz of the events leading up to the crash was "While travelling West on the Conlin Whitehead Highway , I observed a dark colored pick-up truck in front of me also travelling West". No mention of having to pursue the truck from almost Jennings Road just to catch up with it.
Stachowitz writes that Smith was given "a verbal warning for travelling too Fast for Conditions" . No mention of blowing through the Red light, or maybe "left turns on Red" as mentioned in his report are legal after certain hours. Also , no mention of Reckless Driving or Alluding Police.
The unusual incident report also seems to skip over some key questions also. Why was Smith and his vehicle gone before any Supervisor's arrived on the scene to document the incident? Who mad the decision to move the light pole out of the road before CL&P and Hartford Fire arrived to "make it safe". That could have been deadly to move a live, aluminum light pole.
Here are the reports and the video below, or at least the video that was given to me. The rest will be posted as soon as I get it.
Maybe it is time for Detective Weibusch to make another appearance before the FOI Commission to reinforce the public right to know.