HEBRON – An investigation by CT Examiner supports allegations that a Connecticut State Police trooper fired several shots into the wheel of her cruiser to prevent it from being stolen by a suspect in a chaotic incident on Monday – an action that some troopers say endangered other officers and may have violated agency use-of-force policy.
No mention of the shooting was made in the police report and a press release on the incident, and top agency officials did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday regarding the incident.
Through other channels, CT Examiner has obtained police photographs from the scene that show bullet damage to the cruiser, and has spoken to a witness who said they heard what they believe were gunshots during the incident.
The 22-year-old suspect, William Patterson-Hatem, was arrested about 3:30 p.m. Monday after police said he stole a flatbed tow truck in Manchester and drove it to a relative’s house on Wall Street off Route 85 in Hebron.
Troopers tracked the stolen truck to a house through the vehicle’s GPS tracking system, and when police arrived Patterson-Hatem fled into a wooded swamp behind the house.
He quickly agreed to come out of the water, police said, but when he refused orders to turn around and put his hands in the air and began to run away, Trooper Alyssa Nadeau shocked him with a Taser.
“The Taser didn’t have any effect,” Trooper Trainee Lorenzo Ruglio said in a report.
Patterson-Hatem then ran toward multiple cruisers parked in the house’s driveway. He failed to gain entry into one but then got behind the wheel of another and tried to drive off as Trooper Ruglio opened the driver’s door and attempted to pull him out.
Trooper Elson Abotsi deployed a second Taser that struck Patterson-Hatem, but it again had no effect.
“Hatem broke the gear shift lever within the vehicle when attempting to drive the vehicle causing the vehicle to become immobile,” Ruglio reported.
Patterson-Hatem then got out of the cruiser and fought with troopers before being subdued and arrested.
Sources with direct knowledge of the incident say Nadeau had fired several shots from her service pistol into the wheel of the police cruiser that Hatem had entered, and which she had driven to the scene.
There is no mention of any shots being fired in the police report or in a press release on the incident.
The release also was not posted to the state police public-information website as is typical in such incidents, but was sent to CT Examiner upon request Thursday.
CT Examiner independently obtained photographs showing bullet damage to the cruiser’s right-front wheel.
It also has obtained a photograph depicting Nadeau at the edge of the swamp, with another trooper standing behind her with his weapon drawn and facing toward Nadeau’s back.
A resident who lives near the scene and said they witnessed parts of the incident heard what they believe were several gunshots before Patterson-Hatem was taken into custody, and later asked one of the responding troopers about it.
“I told him we thought it sounded like gunshots,” the resident said. “But he said it might have been the Taser.”
Troopers who spoke anonymously to CT Examiner said both the shooting by Nadeau and the photo showing her near the other trooper’s potential line of fire were not only dangerous situations, but may have violated agency policies and practices.
“Shooting into or at a moving vehicle is generally ineffective and the involved hazards are always great,” reads a section of the policy. “No trooper or police officer shall discharge any firearm into or at a fleeing motor vehicle, unless such trooper or police officer has a reasonable belief that there is an imminent threat of death to such trooper or police officer or another person posed by the fleeing motor vehicle or an occupant of such motor vehicle.”
Nadeau had graduated from the State Police Academy last August.
Requests for comment on the incident and Nadeau’s duty status were made to the agency’s commanding officer, Col. Stavros Mellekas, the office of Commissioner James Rovella, and its public-information office.
No response was received as of Thursday afternoon.
CT Examiner has also filed a request under the state Freedom of Information Act for any video of the incident taken by troopers’ body and in-car cameras.
Patterson-Hatem was charged with multiple counts of attempted larceny of a motor vehicle, interfering with police, criminal mischief and attempted assault with a motor vehicle.
He remains jailed on $150,000 bond and is next scheduled to appear in court on May 4.
Last October, Patterson-Hatem and other suspects were charged with stealing multiple automobile catalytic converters in Columbia, and were arrested after a police chase that ended when the suspects were found trying to hide in a nearby wooded area.
He also has charges pending including assault, reckless endangerment and interfering with police stemming from an incident in Glastonbury last December.