Search This Blog

Saturday, October 26, 2019


He wasn't "unavailable" then

This week has been an extremely violent week, but actually there have been plenty of violent weeks since Luke Bronin has been Mayor, and plenty of violent weeks during the tenure of Interim Chief Jason Thody.

Lets do a quick flashback for a second to 2015. That is the year Luke Bronin showed up on the scene to challenge Mayor Pedro Segarra. Most people in Hartford had never heard of Luke Bronin and most would never recognize him, but Bronin proved you could buy an awful lot with a million dollars. You could buy both name recognition and the Hartford Mayor's Office.

Now Pedro Segarra was a nice guy, but a terrible Mayor. I think many people, A/K/A Hartford's political insiders figured out quickly Segarra was more of a Social worker than a solid leader and they were able to steamroll him for their own needs and Segarra produced lackluster results.

Bronin's arrival on the political scene coincided with a very violent pre-election summer. Bronin quickly capitalized on that violence and made political hay from the dead bodies piling up due to gunfire and violence.Segarra was slow to make changes, especially in the Hartford Police Department. HPD was without a permanent Chief at the time. Segarra wasted months selecting a Chief and at one point he conducted an expensive national search spending upwards of $75,000 only to appoint Chief Jim Rovella as the right choice for Hartford's Police Chief.( Not only the right choice, but a great choice)

Bronin capitalized on all of that, especially the dead bodies of homicide victims, making it point to have the Television cameras in tow as he went to vigils and visited the survivors homes of the homicide victims. It worked, he promised to make Hartford a safer City and he was elected as Mayor. And it only cost a little over a million dollars.

I remember the day Bronin showed at at a playground on Cornwall street to use  the prop of a deadbody lying on a basketball court, the man shot in the head during a basketball tournament, to capitalize on the corpse 50 yards away to convince us why we needed change and oust Segarra. What has changed except the Mayors ?   Let me answer my own question...nothing

But, as Eddie Perez's corruption trial revealed the "Gospel of Perez", the felonious Mayor's staff had put together a PowerPoint display to build Eddie's little corrupt empire, or so he hoped. One of the slides stated "Voters in Hartford have very short memories". That is never truer than right now.

I was disgusted yesterday by media accounts that when they tried to approach Luke Bronin for comment on Thursdays street shootout and the killing of 71 year old Grandmother Yvonne Smith, Bronin was conveniently "unavailable" Of course he was unavailable he doesn't want to have to answer for his "efforts" or more appropriately his failures and broken promises.

He doesn't want to have to answer for his revolving door of Department Heads at City Hall and the lack of stability in his Administration. The only Department head who has remained I believe is Fire Chief Reggie Freeman. All other Departments have numerous turnover in Department Heads, including HPD. DPW went without a permanent head for months, actually well over a year, because Bronin was able to use the Fire Chief as an acting DPW Director Luckily Freeman was able to do both , and surprisingly both Departments functioned well, no thanks to Bronin. MHIS, the City's IT Department has been without a permanent director for years.  It is only the City's computers and technology, why should we be concerned about that being managed properly by a permanent Department head?

I think Luke Bronin has a higher turnover rate in his Administration than the Trump Administration, seriously.

It is only the City's computers and technology, why should we be concerned about that being managed properly?

And while Bronin was "unavailable" for comment on the violence this week, his Police Chief was lounging in Chicago at a conference. As the Mayor of a violent City that just experienced a tragedy and several shootings in a 24 hour period, I would think if I was in Bronin's position I would see the value in telling my Police Chief, his presence in the City to maintain calm and hopefully instill confidence and leadership was more important than hobnobbing in Chicago with other Police Chiefs.

But that would take leadership on Bronin's part,

And I am not sure anyone  should believe Bronin's promises that if elected he will serve out the full 4 years of his second term. This is the same guy that was willing to take almost a year off from his full time job as Hartford's elected Mayor to zig-zag across the State in his failed bid to be Connecticut's Governor. How much could have been accomplished during that year if actually focused on the job the taxpayers were paying him to perform. Did he ever offer to give back the salary for the time he was being paid to run Hartford and he wasn't? I never heard that offer being mad.

Does anyone really believe that if John Larson  or (oh please God please) Richard Blumenthal announced  their retirements next spring that Luke Bronin wouldn't be the first one in line to get those positions., despite his promise to the people of Hartford.

Hell, Luke Bronin can't even tell us  the truth about where he is living now, why should we believe anything he says.

Enough is enough, as a City we deserve so much better and not be accepting  the highest bidder for our voting rights.

Friday, October 25, 2019



 I normally don't do this, but this vigil is of special importane  due to the nature of this senseless act and the purely innocent victim who died. Please attend if you can to shpw support for Yvonne's family and as a community to let our Mayor and Councilpeople that we are fed up with the nonsense on our streets

Mothers United Against Violence will conduct a Candlelight Vigil on Saturday, October 26th, at 4:00 pm, at Garden & Nelson Streets, Hartford, where the life of Yvonne Smith, 71, was taken by being hit by a car driven by a youth fleeing a gun fight in the streets.
For the family, this is a loss like the loss of the life of any family member.
Yvonne has been recognized by many as "a guardian of the neighborhood" and spent most of her life in Hartford and never wanted to be anywhere else. So for her, the family is asking for help to make the streets safer.
All who want to do that should feel welcomed to be part of the human presence trying to bring calm to the community and be strengthened by taking part in this vigil.


The perfect storm.That is how Hartford Police Officer Dom Agostino described yesterdays events on Westland Street. Officer Agostino called me this morning to describe his actions to me after numerous comments had been made on this Blog critiquing his actions during the incident.

I have never met Agostino, but I was aware of who he was due to an Internal Affairs investigation regarding him from several years ago.  That may have been a bad start when I began hearing he was the officer who first arrived  on Westland Street yesterday to an active shooter scene.

Agostino asked if he could talk to me and address his response. Since I( am still trying to unravel the situation in my own mind, combined with the numerous phone calls I have received with all  of the different theories and scenarios as to how it should have been handled in a perfect situation.

The problem is nothing about yesterdays incident was routine or complying with any Academy role playing scenario.

Agostino seemed to be troubled by all of the events, but then again, who wouldn't be. He said he hadn't been able to get much sleep last night as the slow motion events kept playing over in his mind.

Agostino described it as the "perfect storm" for chaos. He heard the shots fired call, responded to the area and as he turned onto Westland street he saw two SUV's racing directly toward him. He said the front seat occupants of one car were wearing masks and one of the SUV's threw that car into reverse to elude him and backed up Westland Street. The scene was unraveling in split second timing at that point and Agostino was trying to comprehend everything in the greater picture and making sense of a senseless situation.

Agostino , driving forward up Westland St. was pursing the second shooting vehicle as it backed up the street quickly. At about the time he saw the grey car at the curb with two more shooters taking aim at the fleeing SUV. In a split second he saw the subsequent victim, later identified as Yvonne Smith, entering the street into the path of the fleeing car.

He explained the couple of seconds we can see in the video where he is stationary alongside the standing shooters. At that moment the fleeing vehicle hit Yvonne Smith and propelled her body into the air and through the intersection .Agostino recalls quickly looking from the flying body to the shooters along side him, trying to process what to do next. A situation hopefully none of us are ever in and having to witness and make those decisions and hopefully none of our trained police officer's have to either.

I know it is easy to criticize Agostino's actions, I did it myself. I am not sure even a computer or the best trained Police Officer could process the events that quickly and make the perfect decision. I had the  video on a computer screen and it took me several views to make sense of the silver vehicle by the curb and the two occupants going into their shooting stances and figuring all the threats out. Imagine a Police officer coming upon a wildly confusing situation unwinding in real time before your eyes and trying to control that situation perfectly while analyzing everything happening, trying to chase the suspects, not crash your cruiser, not get yourself shot and if you return fire not to injure any innocent bystanders out in the area. As you human brain is processing all of that information , you see a body hurled into the air by the fleeing car.

I am not sure even the fastest computer could analyze all of that information and come up with a perfect scenario in the quick time frame  that Agostino had to make the same conclusions .I am not sure it is necessary, but I would love to sit down in a room with people, or even a group of Police Officers and play the video for them and see how they would process their solutions and the "what if's". Hopefully this will be a learning tool for our Police Officers to prepare them for the next time a similar situation occurs. And sadly I think the next time will not be too far off unless we get a handle of the violence on our streets.

Finally, I think I did look at the video and drew conclusions as to the situation based upon my knowledge of previous incidents with Officer Agostino. This was a perfect storm situation and I am not sure even the most seasoned, well trained officer could have or should have acted differently. And I honestly pray that none of my police officer friends, or any police officer find themselves in similar situations.  And I don't think I have ever done this before or actually felt the need to do it, but to Officer Agostino, I apologize for judging your actions in the comfort of my computer screen hit play rewind and pause reviewing the video in slow motion, unlike what you were confronting in split second real time.

I appreciate your calling me and having the opportunity hear your version and your sincerity seemed to come through for me. I hope your department will help you and other officers dealing with similar situations to process these events properly.

Before we were done, I asked Officer Agostino a question and told him if he didn't want to answer me I understood. I asked him as the scene was unfolding, did he ever  stop to think or delay his response because of liability or what would happen if he fired back or even rammed the car with his cruiser . His response was a quick "No".

Thursday, October 24, 2019


It is an election year so you aren't supposed to know this, but Hartford is out of control.

Last night was a very violent night in the Capitol City, shotspotter activations were constant, . Two people were shot in the area of South Green Park, another shooting victim showed up this morning at the hospital for treatment and told Police it happened in the area of South Green Park.

And now it continues on today.

A shootout occurred in the area of Garden and Westland Street. Numerous gunfire was reported. Most op the shootout was caught on the Hartford Police Department's C4 Command Center video.

As the shootout was occurring an HPD black and white cruiser came around the corner. Two vehicles were driving up the street apparently shooting at each other and at a 3rd vehicle at the curb , where that vehicles occupants were returning fire.

The first vehicle being chased continued past the police cruiser. the second vehicle following that one, threw their vehicle in reverse and backed up the street, past the car at the curb that was still firing at them.

What appears to be an innocent bystander trying to cross the street to get away from the gunfire is suddenly struck by the vehicle fleeing in reverse at high speed. She is launched and thrown through the air for approximately 100 feet. She also reportedly had a bullet wound to her head from what sources at the scene have told me. Her condition is unknown at this time, but I am being told unofficially it is not good.. Please keep her in your thoughts

It is also interesting from the video that the HPD Officer appears to continue driving and is not seen exiting from his cruiser or returning fire.

It is definitely, I am sure, an unnerving situation to come around a corner and find yourself in the middle of a firefight, What would the response be? Who knows.

But this is the reality of life in Hartford these days, And the reality is that innocent people are being killed as long as this continues.

We will have to see how transparent  HPD and City Hall are and if they have the courage to actually release the video of the real street life in Hartford. It is very disturbing video, but it is reality

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


After I posted this afternoon about the Investigation underway by the Hartford County State's Attorneys Office, the following statement was released by Interim Chief Jason Thody


A veteran Hartford Police Detective is under investigation by the Hartford County States Attorney's Office  for an incident that may result in criminal charges against the Officer after allegedly assaulting a suspect who was under arrest and handcuffed.

UPDATED 3:00PM- The entire incident was properly documented according to a conversation I had by phone with Detective Pillai. The breakdown, from what sources have told me is the failure of the supervisor to properly document the incident and review the body cam footage, that is where the problem began. When the video came to light , HPD command staff felt it was best to go to an outside agency to review the matter and remove any suspicion or conflict of interest


On 5/22/19 at approximately 1309 hours, Detectives from the Vice & Narcotics division were conducting a narcotics investigation and warrant operation. The investigation led detectives to 577 Prospect Avenue, West Hartford.

 As officers attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop to effect an arrest, the suspect for the investigation, intentionally rammed into a police vehicle, eluding and evading the police stop. The suspect vehicle then fled from the rear parking lot, intentionally ramming into a surveillance vehicle being operated by a V&N Detective.

 Upon impact, the airbags deployed trapping the officer within the vehicle. A 10-0 was radio broadcast, with numerous units responding from all divisions, including Officers and medical providers from West Hartford. Due to the disabling damage, the suspect vehicle came to a stop on scene.  


Apparently, the May 22, 2019 incident and the alleged assault of the suspect was not reported until it was uncovered by a high level supervisor reviewing HPD Use of Force Report that the body cam footage had not been reviewed or preserved  in compliance with the required review after the departments Use of Force Policy. According to several HPD sources. During that review it allegedly shows Detective  Abish Pillai striking the suspect in the head after the suspect was handcuffed and under arrest. Pillai can apparently be seen on the body cam footage striking the suspect in the head with the bottom of his department issued portable radio.

Sadly, several HPD Officer's referred to Pillai as a "good , good, guy" one Officer stated Pillai "is one of our best detectives'  and the accusation "is totally out of character" for him and that he is usually totally in control and a calm demeanor.

 It is unfortunate that this incident has the possibility of ending with Criminal charges and HPD  losing one of  their best detectives. Adrenaline is a terrible thing once it gets flowing, but so is assaulting a handcuffed suspect) i also points to several problem areas that aren't unique to HPD.

Where were the other Officer's at the scene? No one else witnessed this alleged assault, even the officer whose body cam captured the footage. (and there may be more than one recording)  Where was the supervisor who signed off on the Use of Force report and why did they not comply with the Use of Force policy to retain and review any body cam footage. Will there be any  one held accountable for these failures.

Monday, October 21, 2019


Many of the good things the Hartford Police Department does go unnoticed. This past Friday was one such time.

 On Friday, the Hartford Police Activities league went on a "field trip". Two school buses loaded with youth that partake of the daily PAL program loaded two buses and headed to a South Glastonbury farm in search of the perfect pumpkin.

The farm is owned by the Cavanna Family, the farm was established in South Glastonbury in 1903 and has remained in the Cavanna family since. Two members of the Cavanna family are currently Hartford Police Officers, Sergeant John Cavanna and his younger brother, Officer Andrew Cavanna, one of the newest additions to HPD.

Friday the Cavanna family, Parents Paul and Kathy , along with their sons John and Andy, daughter Kate and several Hartford Police Officers volunteered to host  the PAL program with hayrides to the fields to select pumpkins, take a ride on a diesel train locomotive on the farm and enjoy pizza, cider and all the apples they could eat along with candy treat bags provided by Officer Cullen and his family for all the kids.

Apples, strawberries, Christmas trees and even Maple syrup are the main items produced on Cavanna Farms

Pumpkins aren't normally grown on the farm, but this year Paul and John and Andy planted a field specifically to give to the PAL kids, free of charge their own pumpkins as part of the pre-Halloween event.

It was great to see the excitement on the children's faces, many of them who had never held a pumpkin of their own. It was also great to see them interacting with the Police Officers who volunteered their time. It was interesting to see Lieutenant Lauren Cox explaining to kids what was inside a pumpkin and the seeds that could be toasted..

The locomotive rides were a huge hit as the kids lined up for their turn in the cab of the massive machine. Next up will be the Holiday hayride through downtown for the PAL kids held before Christmas
Pumpkins fresh from the Cavanna fields
Two of Hartfords Finest volunteering their time for the kids
The trainmaster explaining safety to the kids before boarding

"All Aboard" the Grey Granite Railroad