|STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2010
State Police Troopers from
TroopS C, D, E, K
Receive Service Awards
State Police Troopers from Troop C in Tolland, Troop D in Danielson, Troop E in Montville and Troop K in Colchester received awards for service during a ceremony May 18 at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate bravery and outstanding service in the line of duty. The ceremony also honors men and women serving in local and federal law enforcement agencies, those serving as first responders and civilians. Award winners received medals and certificates from State Police Colonel Thomas Davoren.
Awards were presented in four categories:
Ø The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to those who render service with a high degree of alertness, perseverance and superior judgment in the performance of a difficult task resulting in the protection of life, recovery of property, the prevention of – or solving of – a major crime or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.
Ø The Lifesaving Award is presented to those who save a human life or make a valiant attempt to save a life.
Ø The Outstanding Service Award is given to those who successfully perform an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The person(s) also may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and or continuously achieve excellence in performance of duties over an extended period of time.
Ø The Unit Citation is awarded to members of a department, a command or group who combine their resources to achieve success in an investigation or event. The citation recognizes exceptional collective efforts.
Awards were presented to:
Trooper First Class Ethan Tanksley On Nov. 16, 2009, at approximately 8:50 a.m., Trooper Tanksley was off duty, when a distraught, elderly female came to the front door of his residence. The elderly woman did not speak English and she was covered in blood. She frantically motioned for the Trooper to come to the house next door. Trooper Tanksley called 911 to summon medical assistance, armed himself with his duty weapon, and ran to the residence next door. Due to the language barrier, he did not know the nature of the situation he was about to encounter.
An elderly man carrying a knife exited the home. Trooper Tanksley recognized the elderly man and the elderly woman as the parents of his female neighbor. He ordered the man to drop the knife.
Trooper Tanksley entered the house and found his female neighbor lying at the top of a stairway, severely injured and bleeding. She had been stabbed several times by her husband, who was also upstairs. Trooper Tanksley confronted the husband, holding him at gunpoint until backup arrived and took him into custody.
Trooper Tanksley assisted in providing first aid to his severely injured neighbor. The woman was transported to a local hospital and she survived, despite having suffered several penetrating knife wounds.
Trooper Tanksley earned a Meritorious Service Award for his actions.
Trooper Anthony Simao, Troop D On Feb. 10, 2010, at 3:34 a.m., Troop D in Danielson received a call from a female reporting that her son was armed with a gun in her Canterbury home; the woman then terminated the call. Afterward, a second call was received reporting the same information before the woman again terminated the call.
Responding Troopers arrived on the scene and were confronted by a man at the front door brandishing two firearms. The Troopers drew their weapons and ordered the man to drop the guns. The man retreated back into the residence while Troopers set up a perimeter around the residence. A short time later, four family members exited the residence and reported that the man remained in the house and he was intoxicated.
Troop D desk officer Trooper Anthony Simao made contact with the man by phone and spoke with him for nearly three hours, at which time Trooper Simao convinced the man to exit the residence without any firearms.
The man was taken into custody. It was later learned that he had fired one shot out a window prior to the arrival of Troopers; two guns were seized from the residence.
Trooper Simao earned a Meritorious Service Award; Troop D Troopers earned a Unit Citation Award.
Trooper Nathan Charron and Trooper Timothy Bettencourt On Feb. 10, 2010, at 11:35 pm, Troopers Charron and Bettencourt responded to a report of a violent, active disturbance at a residence in Sprague.
The Troopers heard alarming cries coming from an open door of the residence. They observed a man seated on the floor with a large knife to his throat, threatening to kill himself. Troopers Charron and Bettencourt quickly disarmed and handcuffed the man. The Trooper also found a woman holding a 15-month-old child; the woman was distraught and clearly in great pain. The woman suffered a stab wound to her back and knife slashes to her neck. The Troopers applied direct pressure to the stab wound on the woman’s back and called for an ambulance.
The Troopers determined that the man had stabbed the woman in the back in such a violent manner that the knife blade had broken off and was lodged dangerously close to the woman’s aorta and spinal column. The woman was holding the child when this occurred. The broken knife blade was surgically removed at a hospital, where the female made a complete recovery. The man was charged with a host of criminal violations, including attempted murder.
Troopers Charron and Bettencourt each earned a Meritorious Service Award.
Trooper Joseph Marsh, Trooper First Class Noel Jimenez, Paramedic William Daley, Paramedic Samantha Cobb On Nov. 21, 2009, Troop D received 911 calls regarding a wrong way driver in the northbound lanes on Interstate 395 near the Killingly-Plainfield town line. Troopers Jimenez and Marsh responded to the area and discovered a head-on, two-car motor vehicle accident involving the suspect vehicle.
The Troopers witnessed Paramedic Daley providing assistance to the operator and passenger who were trapped inside one of the vehicles.
While Trooper Jimenez and Paramedic Daley were providing medical assistance to the operator and attempting to remove him from the vehicle, Trooper Marsh observed that the engine had become fully engulfed in flames and the smoke made it difficult to see. The operator appeared unresponsive and was not moving inside the vehicle. Trooper Jimenez used a knife to cut the seatbelt away from the operator and the Troopers and Paramedic pulled the operator away from the burning vehicle. Paramedic Samantha Cobb obtained two fire extinguishers from the ambulance and emptied both of them while attempting to douse the fire prior to the arrival of firefighters.
Troopers Jimenez and Marsh continued to assist medical personnel until all of the occupants involved were safely transported to area hospitals for medical treatment.
Troopers Jimenez and Marsh each earned a Lifesaving Award; Paramedics Daley and Cobb earned Commissioner’s Recognition Awards.
Trooper First Class Eric Basak, Trooper John Barrows, Trooper Scott McCarthy On Dec. 18, 2009, at approximately 1:20 a.m., Troopers Basak, Barrows and McCarthy were dispatched to an alarm at Tolland Middle School.
Upon arrival, Trooper Basak observed smoke coming from a nearby neighborhood. He investigated the source of the smoke and he discovered a house on fire. Trooper Basak alerted Troop C, requested the fire department and then proceeded to awaken the occupants. Trooper Barrows and Trooper McCarthy immediately ran to back up Trooper Basak.
The Troopers gained entry into the home, informed the family of the situation and began the rescue of the four family members. The quick action of these Troopers saved the family, who were asleep and unaware of the danger surrounding them.
The three Troopers earned Lifesaving Awards.
Trooper First Class James Collins, Trooper First Class Timothy Bentley, Sergeant Troy Gelinas On Dec. 7, 2009, State Troopers engaged in a brief pursuit with a suspected drunk driver on Route 32 in New London. After stopping the vehicle, Trooper Collins, Trooper Bentley and Sgt. Gelinas noticed that the female operator was in a state of medical distress and appeared to be highly intoxicated. The operator was unresponsive, with her face was turning blue, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and her respirations extremely shallow.
Trooper Collins and Trooper Bentley quickly removed the driver from the vehicle. Sgt. Gelinas, who is also trained as an Emergency Medical Technician, worked with Trooper Collins and Trooper Bentley in opening the woman’s airway, providing rescue breathing for her until an ambulance arrived. The woman made a complete recovery and was charged with driving while intoxicated and several other motor vehicle violations.
Troopers Collins and Bentley and Sgt. Gelinas earned Lifesaving Awards.
Trooper First Class David Piela On Nov. 28, 2009, at 11:30 a.m., Trooper Piela was conducting motor vehicle enforcement in Windham when he observed a vehicle travel through a red traffic signal at the intersection of Routes 6 and 66. Trooper Piela conducted a motor vehicle stop and checked DMV and criminal databases, which showed that the operator did not possess a valid driver’s license and that he had an extensive record including weapons violations and narcotics violations.
Trooper Piela obtained consent to search the vehicle. He discovered a large black trash bag in the trunk containing 45 pounds of marijuana.
As a result of the investigation, the accused was placed under arrest for numerous criminal and motor vehicle charges. Through his proactive enforcement activity and assertive investigation techniques, Trooper Piela arrested a career narcotics trafficker and prevented the distribution of a large quantity of narcotics.
Trooper Piela earned an Outstanding Service Award.
Troop K On Jan. 18, 2010, at approximately 10:14 a.m., Troop K was notified of a disturbance at a residence in Marlborough. Responding Troopers found an injured woman in the woods behind the residence. She entered the woods to find her 24-year-old daughter who suffered from schizophrenia and had a history of trying to harm herself. The mother located the daughter standing between two trees with her winter jacket on, the hood up, and a strap around her neck. The mother attempted to intervene and a struggle ensued, during which the mother sustained a laceration to her forehead and fell to the ground while her daughter fled deeper into the woods. The mother was transported to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries.
Troopers from Troop K established a perimeter and followed footprints in the snow into the woods over varying terrain for approximately one-half mile to find the daughter lying in a stream, covered in water, with the strap still around her neck. Troopers carried her approximately one-quarter mile to a residence. They wrapped her in blankets and transported her to a local emergency medical clinic, where she was treated for hypothermia and other medical issues.
The Troopers earned a Unit Citation Award.
Eastern District Major Crime Squad, New London State’s Attorney’s Office
On May 30, 1996, teenager April Pennington was reported missing from her Montville residence. Over the 14 years since her disappearance, several theories have developed. However, from the outset, many suspected that she was murdered by a Montville man.
Details emerged as detectives from the Eastern District Major Crime Squad aggressively pursued leads and interviewed witnesses. Facts indicated that the suspect was responsible for the kidnapping, sex assault and murder of the girl. While numerous searches of multiple areas were conducted, Pennington’s body was never found.
The detectives worked collectively with several other agencies including the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; state agencies dealing with parole, probation and correction; the New London State's Attorney’s Office; Montville Resident Trooper’s Office; and Montville Town Police. Investigators obtained an arrest warrant on March 26, 2008, and the suspect was arrested and charged with murder and three counts of capital felony. This arrest was the result of the tireless work by detectives and prosecutors whose efforts extended beyond common expectations as they refused to allow this murder to go unsolved. Neither time nor lack of a body prevented them from proving that this predator was responsible for the girl’s death.
On March 2, 2010, a jury found the suspect guilty of the 1996 rape, kidnapping and murder of April Pennington. The New London State’s Attorney’s Office worked relentlessly to bring this case to trial and successful prosecution. This is believed to be the first time in Connecticut history that a person was convicted of murder without a body or any physical evidence.
Detectives from the Eastern District Major Crime Squad and attorneys and investigators from the New London State’s Attorney’s Office earned a Unit Citation Award for their work in this case.