New Haven State’s Attorney Statement on Officers’ Use of Force
On September 6, 2016 at approximately 6:06 a.m., New Haven police officers received dispatch information about an assault that occurred in the area of 55 Church St. A New Haven officer near the scene engaged a fleeing vehicle in pursuit and was able to note a plate number prior to terminating the pursuit. Dispatch relayed, to officers in the field, a brief driver/vehicle description as well as information that the suspect was known to carry a firearm. Additional information was received shortly thereafter that this vehicle was wanted in connection with a robbery that happened in Guilford earlier that morning at 3:38 a.m.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., a New Haven police officer received information from a subject who stated he had witnessed the assault and had reported it to police. He additionally said that the subject police wanted was currently parked inside the Church Street South Housing Complex. He gave the officer specific directions as to where the car would be found. He provided a description of the car as well as information that the driver was bleeding from a head wound sustained during the assault.
Dispatched police units found the wanted vehicle backed into a parking stall in a dead end area of Malcolm Court. Officers blocked the means of exit with their cruisers and approached the vehicle on foot to determine if the vehicle was occupied. As they approached, the driver sat up, put the vehicle in drive and drove a short distance, stopping in front of a wall. Officers yelled instructions to the suspect to exit the vehicle, which went unheeded. One officer approached and broke the driver’s window hoping to reach in and shut off the vehicle. At this time, the suspect put the vehicle in reverse and accelerated at a high rate of speed. The officer who broke the window suffered a cut to his left triceps as his arm was inside the window as the vehicle accelerated.
Attempting to find an exit which did not exist, the suspect accelerated both in drive and reverse, changing directions a number of times, and, in doing so, stuck two of the cruisers blocking his exit.
Officer Milton DeJesus, one of the officers on the scene, believed that the erratic high speed driving by the suspect, in a confined space, exposed himself and other officers to the risk of serious physical injury or death. With the vehicle accelerating toward him, Dejesus fired multiple rounds at the vehicle. Officer Jarrell Lowery fired as well. The suspect was hit by gunfire at which time he ceased operating the vehicle in a dangerous manner.
The suspect, Kenneth Palmieri, was treated for non- life threatening wounds at Yale.
A review of this incident by State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin of the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office concludes that the discharge of firearms by Officers DeJesus and Lowery was both reasonable and justified. State’s Attorney Griffin commends the actions of the New Haven officers present during this incident, who acted professionally during a very dangerous situation. Additionally the Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Unit is to be likewise commended for its work in assisting in this investigation.