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Thursday, March 6, 2014


I will answer my own question, I don't think it is or at least won't turn out to be a Police cover up. I am talking about the Sergeant Eric Smith crash last week as a video shows him running from one of his own HPD officers and eventually crashing and severing a light pole. I have every confidence that Hartford Police Chief James Rovella will deal with this promptly upon his return from vacation Monday.

In the mean time, to a casual observer it stinks of a cover up.

And before I get going on this, I first want to apologize for leaving off 2 pages of the Accident report, the PR-1. The document was copied as a double sided document. When I scanned it I only scanned page 1 and 3, pages 2 and 4 were left off. The complete report is below

When I first requested the dash cam video from Officer Stachowitz's cruiser, I wasn't really sure of how they operated or the functions of the unit. After I received an e-mail from Detective Ursula Wiebusch that the video was ready I went and picked it up at HPD.

After getting the video opened and able to view it, the short segment showed the Officer on 91 South at what appeared to be high speed, and the dark colored pickup that appeared to be attempting to elude him at a high rate of speed.

Only after wards did I get a quick lesson as to what the indicators on the screen meant. The longitude and latitude was clear, the speed was also clear as well as the time and date. The "S" that appears on the screen apparently indicates the cruiser siren is on, the "B" that flashes occasionally  indicates that the officer is applying the brakes.

Apparently the dash cam begins recording automatically when the lights or siren are activated or the Officer operating the car can begin recording manually if they see the need to record the event. Due to the way the video ended, I questioned if the Officer may have possibly turned off the recording right before the accident if he might have recognized the vehicle.

I was then informed if that was the case the Officer might be in trouble, because Departmental Orders prohibit an officer from turning the recorder off once it has been activated under Departmental Order 6-21 section B-3. There might also be a slight issue with Officer Stachowitz possibly violating HPD's pursuit policy and potentially causing a crash chasing Smith , especially with the weather. And all of it was caught on video.

I continued to press for additional video and was repeatedly told I had everything. Late yesterday I received an e-mail that  their position was now reversed , there was more video and Detective Wiebusch would provide it  Thursday.

 Late today I was notified that more video was ready. The video clips from the dash cam are all labeled by date and time so it is pretty easy to see if there are gaps or if all of the files were provided. Ironically, the portion of the video that would have shown the impact, the light pole following across Prospect Street and as sources told me previously, Eric Smith exiting his vehicle and staggering to Officer Stachowitz's cruiser are all missing.

A high ranking Supervisor from HPD responded to my persistent questions and FOI complaint this afternoon in an e-mail stating "We are as puzzled as you are about the video shut downs.". The fact that the possibility exists that the dash cam  might have malfunctioned is not reassuring to me as a resident. It should not rest easily with any HPD officer either. What if this were an officer involved shooting and that video would prove their story and their innocence and when questions arose they were told "We are as puzzled as you are about the video shut downs."

Late this afternoon , a source familiar with the investigation said indications are pointing to the Officer possibly turning the recording off once he realized that the accident may quite possibly have been caused by his pursuit of Eric Smith's vehicle..

I think on this one though HPD's Internal Affais Unit is going to have to go above and beyond to convince the General Public that there was no cover up. That will most likely involve determining where Smith was before the chase and crash and what were his activities. If he was actually drinking at Cloud 9 as some sources have alleged, IAD will need to try to get video as well as credit card receipts to lay the foundation. All officers are going to have to be upfront and honest as to their involvement. Video is everywhere to expose any misleading information.

The dash cam may have been shut off, but I would say that most likely the video cameras on the back side of the Main Street Federal Building captured it all

The video would seem to lead a reasonable person to a much different impression of the incident than Officer Stachowicz's and Sergeant O'Connors report indicate. I don't see anywhere the terms, reckless operation , pursuit, alluding, hazardous conditions, or even high speed. The reports are very "vanilla" in their description and far from the factual depiction of what actually happened. Why would the Lieutenant who signed off on Sgt. O'Connors Unusual Report not question who moved the light pole of to the side of the road before CL&P arrived to "render it safe". We are very fortunate we aren't attending the funeral for an electrocuted police officer after these stunts.

 Much more to come on this I am sure.


Anonymous said...

This occurred because Rovela was on vacation. What a failure of supervisors. Forget IA. Independent review needs to be done by state police. Good idea to obtain video from federal building. The alleged drinking at Cloud 9, unsafe speeds, evading an officer, leaving the scene of an accident, live wires, no sobriety test, incomplete video and heavily edited police reports means huge bias. Discipline and firing are in order. Ronda Carroll should have walked home and evaded officers too. All these years of judicial and federal oversight and nothing has changed at the PD.

Blog on my 10-16 in not a violation said...

Its going to be interesting from an internal prospective. First off kamil will claim he was under orders from dennis, then dennis will claim he was under orders from jerry. Did jerry ever notify a duty chief? In sure the central chief would never have allowed this nonsense. The broken pole is another issue, only cl and p touches those things. Im sure smith used his rank to influence others on scene. And that cruiser cam reveals it was per policy a police chase. So the internal investigation, which will start when rovella walks in on monday will be started and should be interesting .


The big question now is what happened to the video? Did the Officer disable recording or did someone else alter or delete video from the hard drive?

Robert said...

Did anyone else notice that while turning left on red onto Prospect St that he jumped the curb?

Anonymous said...

Nothing will happen to Smith. It's too bad and Smith knows it too. He stills walks around the station like he did nothing wrong. He'll probably get promoted to LT. What more does Smith have to do for someone to do something. Come on Rovella do something please.

Dennis fan club said...

Smith is untouchable. Fact. Good luck enforcing anything round these disfunctional parts. Lol.

Blogin on my j said...

I would be shocked if anything happened. These days it is nearly impossible to get rid or even demote any officer. The incident is minor. What do u have here ? Nothing other then conduct on becoming, which is barely enough for a couple of days. Look at the east windsor sgt , he is going to get a huge settlement.
What it boils down to is to get canned by any dept do one of the following
1. Have relations, with a prostitute on duty and get caught
2. Steal on camera ( walmart)
3. Misfire your weapon off and lie about it.

Anything else your good to go. Look at the pattern set by others. Evidence kicker, route 2 , and the thody/ state police house party. Etc.

Anonymous said...

Is WFSB going to give you credit in the report they're about to air on the 11 O'Clock news?


I doubt it. You don't think they found it on their own?

Anonymous said...

Shocked WFSB aired it and gave you no credit. Surprisingly the reporter Matt Campbell is known for taking your stuff and others and claiming it as his own