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    NBC Connecticut Investigates has learned that Hartford Police Officer Taikwon Dudley drove the wrong way up I-91 in his patrol car during a pursuit in July, something law enforcement experts say should only be done in the most extreme circumstances. The wrong way driving comes two years after the City of Hartford settled a lawsuit involving the same officer.

    In 2012, Dudley ran through a stoplight at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street. He t-boned the car of Anthony Mansfield, who died a week later. Dudley was charged by his own department, and later acquitted by a jury. However, just two years ago the city of Hartford paid $2.9 million to settle a civil case brought by Mansfield’s children.

    Fast forward to this summer.

    On July 18, 2018, Dudley took part in a pursuit that began in Hartford and ended near the I-91/I-291 interchange in Windsor.

    See a map of the pursuit route below.

    Police eventually arrested the suspect. But Mansfield’s family says it wasn’t only the suspect who put the public at risk. They are angry that Dudley was still driving a patrol car after causing the accident that killed Mansfield.

    Now, Sherry and La-Tanya Mansfield are demanding action from the Hartford Police Department (HPD).

    “Take him (Dudley) off the street, there has to be something else he could do at the department,” said Sherry Mansfield during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut Chief Investigative Reporter Len Besthoff.

    Dudley admitted to police investigators that he followed the suspect who was driving up I-91.

    Driving a police cruiser on the wrong way on the highway is a violation of HPD policy, something Dudley was cited for in an HPD Internal Affairs report.

    We asked the Connecticut Police Academy, which trains officers all across the state, if that’s part of its curriculum.

    “There’s always exceptions to everything, but during our training we teach officers not to go against traffic,” explained Instructor Jim Nemphos.

    The internal affairs report on the incident added that Dudley and his partner were not truthful about what happened next when the two officers claimed they were “strictly trying to exit the highway.” According to the report, vehicle tracking data indicated they “continued to pursue the vehicle…contrary to what was reported.”

    Dudley declined to comment on the pursuit, he says at the advice of his union. NBC Connecticut Investigates obtained an audio recording of the HPD Internal Affairs interview with him through a Freedom of Information request. In the audio recording, an investigator asks Dudley why he was driving the wrong way.

    Investigator: “You went off 291. Were you still looking for his car? What was your reason for going all the way up to the route 291 exit?”

    Dudley: “Cause we were trying to get off. Cause we were scared out of our minds to try to get off anywhere else or try to turn around in the middle of the highway.”

    The question is, why, after Dudley got into an on-duty crash that led to a man’s death, was he allowed back on the road again?

    “People have to be held accountable for their actions, regardless of what position, or job title, that they have,” La-Tanya Mansfield said.

    Hartford Police Chief David Rosado declined an on camera interview but provided a statement, saying:

    “When the allegations were made known to us we quickly opened up an investigation into it. The process is ongoing. We're looking into it. We will let the investigation run its course. When all the facts are known, we'll decide what the proper course of action is.”

    The department adds that about two months after the wrong way incident in July, and after NBC Connecticut Investigates began asking questions about the incident, Dudley received a new assignment. He’s now off the street and working in the Hartford Police Department jail.

    NBC Connecticut Investigates also reached out to Dudley’s partner that night, and the Hartford Police Union. Neither responded to our requests for comment.



    Photo Credit: DroneRanger/NBC Connecticut
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    Connecticut State Police are investigating after a pedestrian was hit and killed by a truck on Route 8 in Bridgeport Thursday night.

    Police said the victim was struck on Route 8 southbound near exit 3 around 8 p.m. Witnesses report the vehicle was a large truck, possibly a construction or dump truck. The vehicle left the scene, according to police.

    The victim, who has not been identified, suffered fatal injuries.

    Troop G and the Collision Analysis Reconstruction Squad are investigating.

    Anyone with information should contact Connecticut State Police.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

    A pedestrian was struck and killed by a truck on Route 8 in Bridgeport Thursday night.A pedestrian was struck and killed by a truck on Route 8 in Bridgeport Thursday night.

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    Crude pipe bombs addressed to prominent Democrats and others who have drawn ire from the right were found in mail sorting rooms across the country this week.

    No one has been hurt since the first device was found on Oct. 22, and it's not clear if they were ever meant to explode. Multiple law enforcement agencies have scrambled to find the culprit or culprits and understand the motive behind the mailings.

    Click the arrows for more information about the incidents, and click here for the latest news about the investigation.


    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    Two more suspected mail explosives were discovered in New York City and in Florida early Friday, one addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and one to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

    The two parcels seized Friday bring the total number of suspected mail bombs to 12 and they all bear the same unusual hallmark -- a lumpy manila envelope with six uncancelled stamps. 

    But if they were sent through the mail, why weren't the stamps postmarked?

    Four separate officials briefed on, or involved with, the investigation have told NBC this week that some packages were not postmarked because the soft packaging could not go through the postal machines.

    In fact, the U.S. Postal Service's own website says postmarks aren't required in all cases.

    "Postmarks are not required for mailings bearing a permit, meter, or precanceled stamp for postage, nor to pieces with an indicia applied by various postage evidencing systems," the USPS says on this page

    Friday's developments come as authorities narrow their focus and initial search for a suspect to south Florida; the FBI said Thursday they think the regional post office processing center is where the pipe bombs first passed through, meaning some if not all of the bombs were mailed from that area to top Democrats and others in New York, Washington, Delaware and Los Angeles.

    None of the bombs have detonated, no injuries have been reported and authorities said Thursday it appeared some of the devices were flawed and incapable of exploding, though it wasn't clear if they were purposefully structured that way or it was just bad construction. 

    Three of the packages -- two addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware and one addressed to Robert De Niro at a building he owns in Manhattan -- were discovered in a flurry of frenzied hours Thursday.

    The others came in the prior 72 hours: two were addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters of California; others were also addressed to Hillary Clinton, former President Obama, ex-Attorney General Eric Holder and former CIA Director John Brennan. The first was left at Soros' home in Westchester County on Monday. 

    According to sources, the explosive devices were made from PVC pipe and contained a timer (likely a digital alarm clock) to set off the detonator. The powder contained in the bombs comes from pyrotechnics. X-rays show there was likely shrapnel inside the PVC pipe, law enforcement officials say.

    The return address listed on each one was the Florida office of ex-Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Investigators are looking into any past incidents involving her office to determine if there could be any connections to the current probe, but have said there is no suggestion she had involvement.



    Photo Credit: News 4 New York
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    The package sent to former DNI James Clapper and recovered in Manhattan Friday morning.The package sent to former DNI James Clapper and recovered in Manhattan Friday morning.

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    It appears that the New Jersey Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez and his opponent Bob Hugin is a toss up, according to a recent The Cook Political Report analysis.

    The latest report, published Friday, says the toss up is due in part to Democrat Menendez’ alleged ethics problems and Hugin’s outspending his opponent in political television ads.

    Hugin, a Republican and former pharmaceutical CEO, has outspent Menendez $27.7 million to $11.8 million, according to the pre-election FEC report, and most of Hugin’s money has funded television ads, The Cook Political Report says.

    Hugin has poured millions of dollars into ads attacking Menendez over his 2017 corruption trial. Menendez denied wrongdoing in the bribery case and the trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors dropped the charges.

    The Senate Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ Senate super PAC, has now invested almost $6.5 million in the race, including a $3 million advertising buy this week alone. The investment “levels the playing field somewhat, but Hugin still holds a very definitive advantage on television,” the report says.

    The analysis determined that the biggest threat to Menendez’s re-election is not Hugin, but rather the voter who goes to the polls and decides to send Menendez a message in the same way that many did during the primary when 38 percent voted for his unknown primary opponent.

    Though it seems the scale is tipping in favor of Menendez, who is said to have a lead of between four and six points, The Cook Political Report says that the race is close enough to warrant a move to a toss up in New Jersey, which tends to be a blue state.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, Files

    Sen. Bob Menendez (left) and opponent Bob HuginSen. Bob Menendez (left) and opponent Bob Hugin

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    A police pursuit on I-91 in Cromwell ended with a crash that killed a Rocky Hill man early Friday morning.

    According to state police, a driver sped off as a trooper tried to pull him around 12:20 a.m.

    The driver tried to get off the highway southbound at Exit 21 in Cromwell and lost control of the car, hitting a tree, police said.

    The passenger in the car, 28-year-old John William Griffin, was killed in the crash.

    The driver sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the hospital.

    State police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash or the moments just prior to the crash to call Trooper First Class Gregory Trahan and 860-779-4917.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A second person in Connecticut has died from the flu this season.

    The person was in the 50-64-year-old age range, according to the Department of Public Health.

    Connecticut's first flu death of the season was reported last week. That patient was over the age of 65, the DPH said.

    A total of 46 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported in Connecticut since Aug. 26. In all, 23 people have been hospitalized with the flu, according to the health department.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter - the disease's highest death toll in at least four decades.

    It was driven by a kind of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among young children and the elderly.



    Photo Credit: CDC

    Health officials released a report saying there have been 17 flu-related deaths.Health officials released a report saying there have been 17 flu-related deaths.

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    A Florida man is in custody in connection with the pipe bombs mailed nationwide this week, law enforcement sources told NBC News.

    Three officials identified the suspect as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc Jr., originally from Brooklyn and currently of Florida. Public records show he has an extensive record of arrests for battery, theft, moving violations, and steroid-related charges. DNA evidence played a role in finding him, several officials said. 

    The Department of Justice planned a news briefing for 2:30 p.m. ET.

    THE ARREST

    Authorities towed away a large white van, its windows plastered with photos of President Trump and Vice President Pence, from an Autozone parking lot in Plantation, Florida, Friday morning, as part of the investigation. Autozone says Sayoc, a registered Republican, according to voting records, is not an employee of the store and apparently had been there to shop when taken into custody.

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    "There was a loud boom, and when I looked out, I saw a whole lot of police cars," one witness to the arrest, a woman who declined to give her name, told NBC News. "There’s a lot of commotion out there. All I know is they arrested the bomber."

    A 'VERY NICE' PERSON 

    A cousin of the suspect described Sayoc as a "very nice, thoughtful person." Asking not to be identified, the woman said she was stunned to hear about his arrest. She knew nothing about his political beliefs or arrest history, she said. The two hadn't connected in 20 years until recently, when her father died.

    "It was mostly just small talk, how's your family, that kind of thing," the woman said. "I don't really know that much about him. We have a very big family."

    The arrest news followed shortly after the discovery of two more suspected mail explosives in New York City and in Florida, one addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and one to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

    12 BOMBS

    The two parcels seized Friday bring the total number of suspected mail bombs to 12. All of the packages were irregularly shaped, in yellow manila envelopes, with six stamps that were not postmarked

    None of the bombs detonated, no injuries were reported and authorities said Thursday it appeared some of the devices were flawed and incapable of exploding, though it wasn't clear if they were purposefully structured that way or it was just bad construction. 

    [[498425171, C]]

    According to sources, the explosive devices were made from PVC pipe and contained a timer (likely a digital alarm clock) to set off the detonator. The powder contained in the bombs comes from pyrotechnics. X-rays show there was likely shrapnel inside the PVC pipe, law enforcement officials say.

    The return address listed on each one was the Florida office of ex-Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Investigators had said they were looking into any past incidents involving her office to determine if there could be any connections to the current probe, but have said there is no suggestion she had any involvement whatsoever.

    [[498420761, C]]



    Photo Credit: Broward County/NBC6
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    Cesar Sayoc Jr, the suspect in custody in the nationwide mail bombings, and the van that was seized as part of the investigation.Cesar Sayoc Jr, the suspect in custody in the nationwide mail bombings, and the van that was seized as part of the investigation.

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    Police have issued a Silver Alert for a missing 3-year-old boy in New Haven.

    Levi Hawkins has been missing since earlier today.

    He is described as being 3-feet tall and 50-pounds.

    Police did not provide any details about the circumstances surrounding Levi going missing.

    Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call New Haven police at 203-946-6321.



    Photo Credit: New Haven Police

    A Silver Alert was issued for 3-year-old Levi Hawkins, of New Haven, Friday.A Silver Alert was issued for 3-year-old Levi Hawkins, of New Haven, Friday.

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    NBC canceled "Megyn Kelly Today" on Friday following a firestorm of criticism surrounding the anchor's remarks about the use of blackface, Megyn Kelly's exit coming barely more than a year after the show's premiere. 

    “Megyn Kelly Today is not returning. Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other TODAY co-anchors,” an NBC spokesperson said.

    The announcement comes as Kelly is in talks with NBC News about her future at the network, which sources said were likely to include her leaving the company.

    The cancellation came quickly following a segment about Halloween costumes on Tuesday in which Kelly defended the use of blackface while discussing a cast member of "Real Housewives of New York City" who darkened her face for a Diana Ross costume. She said it was acceptable when she was a kid when portraying a character.

    Social media condemnation was swift, and Kelly apologized to fellow NBC staffers in an email later in the day. Yet both NBC's "Nightly News" and the "Today" show did stories on their colleague's comment. Al Roker said "she owes a big apology to people of color across the country."

    She opened Wednesday's show by saying she was wrong and sorry for what she said.

    "I have never been a PC kind of person, but I do understand the value of being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity," she said.

    It wasn’t the first controversial comment Kelly made on the show. In its debut episode, she asked a fan of "Will & Grace" if he became gay because of the show. Soon afterward, Jane Fonda coldly changed the subject after Kelly asked about her plastic surgery.

    In 2013, as an anchor at Fox News Channel, Kelly’s insistence that Santa Claus is white prompted another firestorm, and the remarks reverberated on social media this week given her comments about blackface.



    Photo Credit: "Megan Kelly Today"

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    Florida resident Cesar Sayoc Jr. was arrested Friday in connection with mail bombs sent to several prominent Democrats and others who have been critical of President Donald Trump.


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    Former vice president Joe Biden is in Hartford Friday to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont and 5th District congressional candidate Jahana Hayes.

    His visit is just a day after two suspected explosive devices addressed to Biden were discovered at postal facilities in Delaware. The devices are similar to others sent to prominent Democrats across the country over the past few days.

    In all, 10 suspicious devices have been found so far.

    Biden's event in Hartford is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.

    Hartford police said they are prepared with a comprehensive security plan for the event. There are no anticipated road closures.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    El paquete dirigido al exvicepresidente fue detectado en una oficina postal en New Haven, Delaware (foto de archivo).El paquete dirigido al exvicepresidente fue detectado en una oficina postal en New Haven, Delaware (foto de archivo).

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    A Florida man was arrested Friday in connection with more than a dozen crude pipe bombs that were mailed to prominent Democrats, including the Clintons, the Obamas and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other figures who have criticized President Donald Trump. The bombs didn't detonate or cause any injuries, but FBI Director Christopher Wray said, "These are not hoax devices." The dayslong manhunt caught the nation's attention. Read about other package bombers in recent American history.

    Photo Credit: Law enforcement

    These photos provided by law enforcement agencies show packages sent in the series of pipe bomb mailings across the country the week of Oct. 22, 2018. Cesar Sayoc Jr. was arrested in Florida on Friday, Oct. 26, in connection with the mailings.These photos provided by law enforcement agencies show packages sent in the series of pipe bomb mailings across the country the week of Oct. 22, 2018. Cesar Sayoc Jr. was arrested in Florida on Friday, Oct. 26, in connection with the mailings.

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    Hartford parents are protesting the decision to replace the acting leader of a local school.

    In a letter to Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy Parent-Teacher Organization expressed its anger in the decision to replace acting director Freddie DeJesus, who, according to parents, has served in that role for two years and was promised the position. In the letter, parents said they had no idea the search for a new leader was going on.

    Parents organized a walkout Friday in support of DeJesus.

    Following the outcry, Torres-Rodriguez released the following statement:

    "I appreciate the passion and commitment our students and families showed today for the Renzulli Academy community. Their voices have been and will continue to be heard. As Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, I stand by the integrity of the hiring process for the position of Assistant Principal.

    "Senior Leadership at HPS will review this situation, act accordingly, and use it as a learning opportunity on how to continue to improve communications with our parents and stakeholders in the future."



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Parents held a walkout to protest the decision to replace Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy acting director Freddie DeJesus in Hartford Friday.Parents held a walkout to protest the decision to replace Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy acting director Freddie DeJesus in Hartford Friday.

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    A Florida man with an extensive criminal background and a fervent admiration for President Trump is in custody in connection with the pipe bombs mailed nationwide this week.

    Read the complaint against him below.


    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference cross country meet at Wickham Park in Manchester was rescheduled for Friday as the threat of a weekend nor’easter looms. The CIAC made the decision on Wednesday.

    "It was kind of stressful because changing your work schedule and everything, so there won’t be as many parents cheering the kids on because they can’t get off of work," Karin Arai, whose son is competing, said.

    "I cannot miss my son’s last meet," Criag Zdun of Bristol said. "He’s a senior in high school and he’s done well this year and academically he has been great. This is my job to support him."

    This is the 37th year the park has hosted the divisional championship. Park officials said they have been working long hours the last couple of days to get the course ready.

    "It’s the wettest I’ve seen it in the 40 years I’ve been here, so that creates a problem with the runners," Park Director Jeff Maron explained. "We did everything we could. We put down wood chips. We put down stone in different areas to prep the course."

    Some parents said while the last minute change left them scrambling, safety is the most important rule.

    "Everybody was really accommodating and they know really it’s for the best and their safety," Arai said.

    "Beautiful call because if you’ve ever been on this course when it’s wet, it’s a mess," said Zdun.


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    While departing the White House Friday for a rally in North Carolina, President Trump said that he knows suspected mail bomber Cesar Sayoc Jr. was a supporter of his but that he bears "no blame" for the suspect's actions.


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    A Wallingford dad is taking his family’s Christmas tradition to homes across the country this holiday season.

    Millions of kids write letters to Santa Claus. Now, delivering them is getting a whole lot easier. A Wallingford dad’s invention is about to hit store shelves.

    “A child writes a letter, picture or drawing to Santa Claus,” Chris Cirri said. “Once they place it in the mailbox, it magically disappears to the North Pole.”

    Cirri first had the idea for Santa’s Enchanted Mailbox years ago.

    “We were trying to create another family tradition to complement the elf on the shelf tradition, and it started with my little kids at home,” he said.

    Chris’ stepfather-in-law, Dave, built the mailboxes. Starting with one made of wood and cardboard, he then created a 3D printed prototype.

    “He knew what he wanted to do, but didn’t know how to do it,” said David Seales. “That’s what I added to it. I made it work.”

    Chris tried it out on his son.

    “He put a letter in there, raised the flag and his face said it all,” Cirri said. “He was just in awe. I knew right then and there we have to move forward with this.”

    So Chris, his brother-in-law Steve, and Dave secured a patent for the design. They signed a deal to mass produce the mailboxes through a toy company—Mr. Christmas.

    “Steve’s a contractor, Dave is an engineer, and I work in credit cards - we looked at each other and said, ‘what are we doing here?’”

    Sixteen months later, Christmas is coming early for this family this year.

    “It’s coming out officially in retail in early November, but it’s for sale right now online,” Cirri said.

    In the first 30 minutes, Chris said they sold 300 mailboxes on their website. It’s also on Amazon, Wayfair, and coming to the Home Shopping Network. There’s even a little bit of Connecticut in every box. Each one comes with a story about Christmas set in Wallingford.

    “Even if it didn’t make a ton of money and we just broke even, the experience alone and the joy that it's brought my family and all our friends here in town, it’s been worth it,” Cirri said.

    A little bit of Christmas magic—through imagination and innovation.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Santa’s Enchanted Mailbox was invented by a Wallingford family and officially hits the stores in November.Santa’s Enchanted Mailbox was invented by a Wallingford family and officially hits the stores in November.

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    President Donald Trump traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday for a campaign-style rally and slammed the media for "unfair coverage." The crowd at the rally chanted "CNN sucks."


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    Clinton police are trying to locate a missing 37-year-old man with intellectual disabilities.

    Christopher Clark has not been seen or heard from in 24 hours, police said Friday night. Clark lives in a facility on High Street that serves people with intellectual disabilities, and walked away from the building on Thursday.

    Family members are concerned Clark is not taking his prescribed medications.

    Clark is originally from Meriden and has been known to frequent the Middletown area.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Clinton police at 860-669-0451.



    Photo Credit: Clinton Police Department

    Christopher ClarkChristopher Clark

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