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06/21/2019

Statement of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of New Haven Concerning an Officer-Involved Use of Force in New Haven on January 8, 2019

INTRODUCTION

On January 8, 2019, New Haven Police Department (NHPD) Detective Francisco Sanchez was involved in a non-fatal shooting incident in the City of New Haven in the area of Greenwich Avenue, during which he shot and injured Marcus A. Rivera.  At the time of the incident, officers were attempting to apprehend Rivera on an outstanding arrest warrant. New Haven State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin requested that the Western District Major Crime Squad (WDMCS) of the Connecticut State Police conduct the investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.

FACTS

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, officers and detectives of the NHPD’s Intelligence Unit, who were aware that Marcus Rivera had an outstanding arrest warrant, received information concerning his whereabouts.  It was reported to the NHPD that Rivera was in the area of Hurlburt Street and Washington Avenue in the City of New Haven and was in possession of a firearm.  Members of the Intelligence Unit, including Detective Sanchez, responded to that location in an effort to apprehend Rivera. 

Rivera was located and observed riding a bicycle on Kimberly Avenue.  Members of the Intelligence Unit watched as Rivera dismounted his bicycle at the Citgo Gas Station located at 14 Kimberly Avenue and enter Sam’s Food Store.  At that point, multiple members of the unit exited their undercover police vehicles in order to approach and apprehend Rivera.

Rivera observed the officers approaching the front door of the Sam’s Food Store and despite their verbal announcements, fled out the back door.  Officers, including Detective Sanchez, gave chase on foot.  During the pursuit, officers issued commands of “stop – police,” and “freeze – police,” but Rivera refused to comply with their directions.

Detective Francisco Sanchez provided the WDMCS detectives with a sworn, written, and signed statement memorializing his knowledge of the incident.  Detective Sanchez’s statement reads, in relevant part, as follows:

 

While wearing an outer vest that clearly displayed the word “Police” in large gold lettering on both the front and back, I exited the police vehicle onto Lamberton Street.  I could see Rivera running on Kimberly Avenue away from Detective T. Glynn towards Greenwich Avenue.

 

I immediately began pursuing Rivera on foot. As I pursued Rivera I identified myself as a Police Officer.  I ordered Rivera to stop running and show me his hands. Based on the information I received from the CTIC Officer Safety bulletin and the investigation regarding the incident on December 19, 2018, I drew my department issued firearm. Rivera looked back to see where I was as I pursued him.  As I grew closer to Rivera I continued to order him to stop running and show me his hands.

 

Rivera did not acknowledge my commands at any time.  I could not see Rivera’s hands and I feared that he was noncompliant because he was in possession of a firearm.  I tried to grab Rivera without success and he continued to flee.  I attempted to strike Rivera with my right hand while still holding my firearm and attempting to grab him with my opposite hand.  I was able to strike Rivera (1) time.  The hood of Rivera’s coat was covering his head causing the strike to be ineffective.

 

I was able to get in front of Rivera in a driveway located between two houses on Greenwich Avenue.  Rivera stopped running and was standing directly in front of me.  Rivera and I were now facing each other.  I pointed my department issued firearm at Rivera and ordered him to show me his hands.  Rivera and I were no more than the width of the driveway apart.  The area in which we were standing was poorly lit.  I continued to order Rivera to show me his hands.  Rivera quickly raised his hands while holding an object and pointed it at me.

 

I immediately identified the object as a firearm.  Because Rivera was now aiming a firearm at me and believing that he was going to shoot me I discharged my firearm.  I attempted to create space by moving backwards away from Rivera.  Rivera discharged his firearm while aiming at me.  I heard Rivera’s gunshot and I saw the muzzle flash produced by his gunshot and, accordingly discharged my firearm again.

 

Rivera fled down the right side of the driveway towards the rear yard and I took cover behind a vehicle that was parked in the driveway.

Rivera was apprehended when he appeared from behind 340 Howard Avenue (which runs parallel to Greenwich Avenue).  When taken into custody Rivera was no longer wearing his jeans or his jacket and claimed to officers that he had just walked out of the back door of his house and that he had been robbed and shot by an unknown black male. 

Officers searched the route of travel that Rivera took as he fled the police and located a pair of jeans and a jacket on the ground at the intersection of 1st Street and Howard Avenue in front of 77 1st Street.  A puffy black winter jacket was also located in the backyard of 77 1st Street.  The property adjacent to 77 1st Street is 332 Howard Avenue, and the two properties are separated by a stockade fence and a portion of metal chain link fence.  In the rear yard of 332 Howard Avenue, police located a Davis Industries Model P-380 .380 caliber handgun.  The firearm contained a five (5) round magazine, loaded with three (3) rounds, plus a fourth round chambered inside of the barrel of the firearm.

Members of the WDMCS crime scene unit processed the scene located in the driveway that runs between 451 Greenwich avenue and 445/447 Greenwich Avenue.  A projectile was recovered from the vinyl siding of 445/447 Greenwich Avenue, which was behind Detective Sanchez when he confronted Rivera.  Subsequent ballistics testing at the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory revealed that the projectile was fired from the Model P-380 .380 caliber handgun that was recovered from the yard of 322 Howard Avenue.  On the opposite side of the driveway from where the projectile was located, a single .380 caliber spent shell casing was recovered. 

Six (6) .40 caliber shell casings were located in the curtilage of 445/447 Greenwich Avenue.  These casings were determined to have been fired from Detective Sanchez’ service weapon.  A round count conducted by WDMCS determined that Detective Sanchez discharged his firearm seven (7) times.  A review of the ShotSpotter data determined that a total of nine (9) rounds were fired.  Members of WDMCS have opined that Mr. Rivera may have discharged two (2) rounds from the .380 firearm. 

WDMCS detectives obtained and reviewed residential surveillance footage from the area of 77 1st Street.  The footage depicts Rivera jump over a fence and into the backyard of 77 1st Street, which is adjacent to the location where the exchange of gunfire took place.  Rivera can be seen shedding his black jacket and dropping it to the ground in the same location where officers recovered the puffy black winter jacket.  At that point, Rivera is seen wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt.  Rivera can then be seen running around the opposite side of 77 1st Street.  Rivera is seen holding a handgun, which he throws over the fence into the backyard of 322 Howard Avenue, consistent with the location where the Model P-380 .380 caliber handgun was recovered by police.  Rivera then steps out of camera view.  When he reappears, Rivera is seen wearing only sweatpants and a thermal long sleeve shirt. 

After being apprehended, Rivera reported that he had been shot in the stomach.  EMTs responded to the scene and located an apparent entrance wound to the front lower area of Rivera’s abdomen. He was then transported to Yale New Haven Hospital where he was treated for a single gunshot wound to the abdomen which resulted in an apparent exit wound to the left, rear side of his body.  The location of this rear injury was alternately described in the medical records as “left flank”, “left lower back”, “left back” and “left buttock”. 

On Tuesday, January 15th, 2019, Marcus Rivera was transported to the State Police Barracks at Troop G in Bridgeport to be processed on his outstanding arrest warrant.  Rivera was questioned by WDMCS detectives concerning the shooting and indicated, inter alia, that he ran from police because he knew that he was wanted.  While he acknowledged an altercation with NHPD officers, he claimed that he was shot by an unidentified black male. 

STATE’S ATTORNEY’S REVIEW AND CONCLUSION

The State’s Attorney finds that based on the facts in this case, New Haven Police Detective Francisco Sanchez was justified under Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-22(c) in using deadly physical force upon the person of Marcus Rivera.  Pursuant to statute, “A police officer may use deadly force when he reasonably believes the use of such force is necessary to defend himself or another from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.” C.G.S. 53a-22(c)(1).  Detective Sanchez was confronted with an armed subject determined to avoid apprehension who aimed a firearm at the officer, and ultimately fired upon the officer.  Detective Sanchez was justified in his actions based upon his reasonable belief that the use of such force was necessary to defend himself and others from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.

The State’s Attorney thanks the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crime Squad for their thorough investigation and the New Haven Police Department for their cooperation and professionalism during the pendency of this investigation.

As a result of the events of January 8, 2019, Marcus Rivera was arrested on multiple charges.  State’s Attorney Griffin stresses that charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.