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
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
Much more to come on this I am sure.