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Video Shows Officer-Inmate Scuffle


Officials in Fox Lake, Illinois, released video footage Friday showing an altercation between police officers and an intoxicated man in jail in December 2014.

The four officers allegedly involved in the incident are accused of using excessive force with the man in custody, Jeffrey Grzonka, and violating the department's rules and regulations, Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin said in a press conference.

A second investigation into the case began in August when it was discovered two cameras had captured video of the incident. Three videos were from the incident were released Friday.

Grzonka, 36, was taken into police custody on Dec. 5, 2014, after officers responded to a call at 16 Lilac Avenue in Fox Lake, Marrin said. Grzonka, who was intoxicated at the time, spit at one officer and made threatening comments as they took him to his cell, she said.

While inside the cell, Grzonka allegedly attempted to cover the lens of the cell camera with clothing. When officers entered the cell, he continued to threaten them and disobey commands, Marrin said.

The videos show one officer shoving Grzonka into a concrete wall and placing his hands on his neck, according to Marrin. While Grzonka was being transferred to another cell, where he could not easily cover up the camera inside, he "made contact with a wall and a door," Marrin said.

"(Grzonka's) disorderly behavior, while inexcusable, did not authorize or justify these officers' conduct," Marrin said.

Prior to Grzonka's release the next day, he was offered medical attention and asked whether he wanted to file a complaint against the officers, and he declined both, Marrin said.

The village administrator said she was not made aware of the incident until March 2015 when former Police Chief Michael Behan told her about it and said one of the officers had been disciplined.

Marrin said the initial investigation was "not as thorough as it could have been."

"It certainly did not justify a failure to report or investigate this incident," she said.

The second investigation included a full review of video evidence, documentation of the incident and witness accounts from the former police chief and the officers involved.

Three officers have been disciplined and suspended for 10 to 30 days after accepting responsibility for their role in the incident, Marrin said. The last officer has refused to accept responsibility, and village officials have been unable to reach agreement on the officer's discipline.

The disciplined officers were identified as Det. Jason Baldowsky, Officer Shane Campion and Officer Eric Ewald.

Former Police Chief Behan resigned in August days after he was put on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the altercation. Lake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Michael Keller was named as interim chief.

"Certainly the events of the last several months in the Fox Lake Police Department have reminded us that we can and should do a better job of fully being accountable to the public. ... I'm also proud to say that reforms at the Fox Lake Police Department are underway," Marrin said.

"Both this incident and the news of the embezzlement scheme concocted by Joe Gliniewicz are stark reminders of what can happen when officers are not held accountable," she said referring to the former lieutenant whose on-duty death made national headlines and was later ruled a "carefully staged suicide." 

Taliban in Armed Standoff at Spanish Embassy in Kabul


Taliban fighters stormed a guesthouse of the Spanish embassy in the Afghan capital on Friday, sparking an armed standoff with security forces in the upscale area popular with expatriates.

As many as four attackers were holed up inside the building — presumed wearing suicide vests ready to detonate — and were exchanging fire with Afghan special forces units, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told NBC News.

Two guards were killed and seven others were injured after the militants detonated a car bomb at the gate and stormed the building in the Shirpour neighborhood, according to a senior police official.

In addition, two attackers were killed and one was injured during the clearing operation, Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi tweeted later Friday.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Searching for Men Who Robbed Windsor Gas Station


Windsor Police are investigating an armed robbery at a gas station and asking for help to find the two men responsible.

Police responded to Jay’s Mobil Service Station, at 680 Poquonock Avenue, at 12:10 a.m. on Friday and learned that two men pulled a firearm and left with cash from the register.

A silver car might have been involved.

One man police are looking for is 6-feet-tall, between 30 and 40, and has gray facial hair.

He was wearing a red fitted baseball cap with a blue brim and the large white letters “CT” with hashtags on the front of the hat. He was also wearing a red shirt, black puffy hooded coat with an emblem on the left sleeve, blue jeans and white sneakers.

The other man was 20 to 30 years old, 6-feet- tall and had facial hair. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a green camouflage style shirt, with gray colored pants and dark shoes. He was also wearing a black fitted baseball cap and dark colored gloves.

Anyone with information about the two men involved should call the Windsor Police Department at (860) 688-5273.

Why's It So Warm? This Time, Thank the Polar Vortex


Basking in this unusually balmy December? You can thank a weather phenomenon whose mere mention sends bone-chilling shivers down Americans' spines: the polar vortex.

But this time, instead of blanketing much of the nation in a brutal arctic blast, the polar vortex is keeping the deep freeze away. That's because the vortex — an arctic cyclone of extremely cold air high up in the atmosphere — is strong right now and fencing all that cold up north, meteorologists say.

"The jet stream has been to our north and we haven't seen it coming south," said James Mitchell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Buffalo. "It's keeping all the cold air bottled up into Canada." 

Photo Credit: AP

'Zombie Walk' Driver Sentenced


The San Diego man who plowed through a group of people during a "Zombie Walk" event outside Comic-Con last year will not spend time behind bars.

Matthew Pocci was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and 60 days of electronic monitoring after he was convicted of felony reckless driving causing serious injury. His driver license is revoked for one year.

He faced a maximum of three years in prison with the possibility of probation, per the judge's discretion.

Prosecutors argued Pocci was angry and impatient when he drove into a crowd at the July 2014 event, but the defense argued Pocci was frightened by the group dressed in zombie costumes and panicked when he accelerated through the crowd.

Cynthia Campbell was photographing the Zombie Walk event when she was hit by Pocci’s vehicle and was caught underneath the car. She suffered serious injuries in the collision.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

2 Suspects Robbed Newington Tobacco Shop: Police


Two suspects are being sought after police say they robbed a tobacco shop in Newington.

On Thursday at around 6:40 pm, the first suspect entered the Discount Tobacco on Fenn Road and asked the clerk for help with a purchase, according to Newington Police.

The suspect pulled out a black pistol while the clerk was assisting him and stole money from the cash register. A second suspected entered the store and stole several cartons of cigarettes, police said. 

One suspect is approximately 6'1" with a thin build and beard and was seen wearing blue jeans, a dark hooded sweatshirt, brown boots, black glasses and a white New York Yankees cap. The second suspect is described as approximately 5'10" with a stocky build wearing blue jeans and a black jacket. 

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Det. L. DeSimone at (860) 594-6239.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Mourners Remember SoCal Victim


Family and friends of San Bernardino mass shooting victim Damian Meins gathered for a private memorial service Friday morning as part of a grim procession of tributes expected to to take place throughout Southern California over the next week.

Mourners converged at 10 a.m. at St. Catherine's of Alexandria in Riverside to remember 58-year-old Meins, one of 14 people killed when a husband and wife opened fire at a holiday event at the Inland Regional Center earlier this month. The FBI is investigating the massacre as an act of terror.

Meins worked for the San Bernardino County Department of Environmental Health and was married to the principal of Sacred Heart School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, his daughter, Trenna, told the Press-Enterprise in Riverside County, California.

A father of two adult daughters, Meins was a devoted Catholic and passionate about serving his community. He was a graduate of Notre Dame High School, where he met his wife and volunteered to work on the sidelines at school football games.

FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday the two shooters — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — were radicalized well before Malik came to the U.S. on a fiancee visa and had discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013.

The first of the 14 victims was laid to rest Thursday. Hundreds of people attended the funeral service in Covina to honor Yvette Velasco, 27, of Fontana. Velasco was set to receive her official health inspector badge the day of the attack.

Funerals are scheduled Saturday for victims Tin Nguyen, Isaac Amanios and Shannon Johnson.

Photo Credit: Meins Family Photo

Students Sickened From Overheating, Not 'Odor'


A middle school in Watertown, Connecticut, found that 43 students hospitalized Thursday had overheated and were not exposed to an environmental issue, as originally suspected, the school announced Friday.

"In reviewing yesterday’s schedule, the preliminary findings indicate that the kids became overheated and then became ill," Board of Education Chairman Lisa Crotty said Friday. 

One child at Swift Middle School fainted and dozens were sent to the hospital after complaining of nausea and lightheadedness, according to the superintendent. The school evacuated and canceled classes Friday to investigate what was originally described as an "odor."
Crotty said students were in the auditorium practicing for a concert when they became ill. The day before, however, the superintendent said students throughout the school developed symptoms.
The school has adjusted the air conditioning system to override the thermostat when the temperature gets above a certain point. 
Classes will resume Monday and the student concert will be performed Tuesday as scheduled. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Armed Man Breaks Into Elderly New London Woman's Home


An armed suspect made threats to an elderly woman when he broke into her New London home on Friday morning, police said.

New London Police are investigating the armed robbery that took place at around 9:40 am on Friday on the upper Montauk Avenue area.

The victim told police the suspect was wearing an unknown type of badge on his dark clothes and had a handgun. He knocked on the door and forced himself in upon the woman opening the door.

The suspect made threats against specific individuals related to local businesses that the woman is affiliated with before fleeing with stolen cash and other items, police said. 

Anyone with information or who may have been in the area of Pequot Avenue and Montauk Avenue around 9:30 am is asked to call the New London Police Detective Division at 860-447-1481.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Dow Drops 310, Ending Worst Week Since August


U.S. stocks dropped heavily Friday as the price of oil hit near-seven-year-lows and traders anticipated an upcoming decision from the Federal Reserve on market rates, CNBC reported. 

The Dow Jones dropped 310 points, while the S&P 500 dropped almost two percent on a day highlighted by a major, multibillion-dollar chemical company merger. Apple ended about 2.5 percent lower, underperforming even the Nasdaq composite, which fell below 5,000.

"What really conspired to weigh on investors today is they weighed on the Dow-DuPont combination as a move to battle low growth. And here it is, oil, telling us the same thing," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

The major averages lost more than three percent over the week, Dow's worst week in a month and the S&P 500's worst since the middle of August. The Nasdaq composite the worst performer, off about 4 percent for the week.

Photo Credit: File -- Getty Images

Warm Weather Keeps Tourism Going Strong in Mystic


It might not feel like winter, but it was a beautiful day to be on shoreline.

Local shops and restaurants are reaping the benefits of the unseasonable weather keeping tourism strong in Mystic. 

"Business has been great we've been having great weather," Andrea Keller, a Barista at Bartelbys Cafe said. "It's been making it easy for everybody to come to downtown Mystic and get their Christmas shopping going."

That's exactly what two best friends since elementary school were doing on this gorgeous day.

"We meet a couple of times a year it's always herein mystic so we're going a little Christmas shopping and had wonderful lunch and now we're having desert" said Linda Scarpace who is visiting Mystic for the day.

Weather like this doesn't call for hot chocolate for dessert

"It's marvelous. That's why we're shopping and walking all around the shops here in Mystic having a great day and enjoying an ice cream cone." said Linda's friend Susan Turick.

Even Bartelbys Cafe has been selling more cold beverages than they typically do this time of the year.

"We've been doing a lot of iced coffees and Italian sodas and our frozen drinks" said Keller.

Another common thread was seen with temperatures in the 60s.

"Didn't even have our coats on earlier," said Turick.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Suburban Woman Gave Birth, Hid Baby in Bag Under Towels: Police


A woman in Morton Grove has been charged after police said she put her newborn in a plastic bag and hid him under towels.

The boy was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital where the baby responded well to treatment, police said.

A person called police and said his pregnant sister was bleeding at a home at Nagel Avenue, according to The Chicago Tribune. When paramedics arrived at the home, they did not see the baby and asked the woman if she had given birth. The woman, identified as 21-year-old Xin Zeng, would not talk to investigators, according to the publication.

However, responders found an unresponsive newborn baby in a plastic bag that had been tied closed with a towel and placed under a pile of towels in the bathroom, according to police.

After leaving the home, the baby started breathing and regained color as paramedics worked to stabilize him, police said.

Zeng is a college student who stays with her parents, according to the Tribune. They were out of town when the incident occurred.

She is now being held in Cook County Jail for $10 million on a charge of attempted first-degree murder, police said.

Police Cmdr. Paul Yaras told the Tribune “it’s an absolute miracle” the baby is still alive.

Photo Credit: Cook County sheriff's photo

Newtown Prepares to Mark Sandy Hook Anniversary


On a door at the Newtown Congregational Church is a sign with a simple message: “We are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love.”

“Choosing love is not something that is an afterthought, it really is a conscious choice that we try to make every day,” said Rev. Matt Crebbin, the church’s senior minister.

Monday marks three years since the mass shooting that killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“When I hear of other communities that have been affected by gun violence, there is this connection with compassion,” Crebbin said, “but there’s also this great sorrow that’s still there.”

Crebbin said his community must find a way to recognize the tragic events of three years ago without reliving the trauma.

“We may be in the same chapter of a book, but we’re on different pages so part of the way we can care for one another is be aware that different people will be at different places, especially around this anniversary,” Crebbin said.

“It is very hard, it is very difficult to overcome,” Rabbi Shaul Praver said, “but we will overcome”
Praver was the rabbi at Newtown’s Congregation Adath Israel at the time of the shooting. He is writing a book called Sacred Testimony on the narrative of what happened, why and the search for solutions.

“Teaching the golden rule in school, being compassionate to one another, educating the entire child, reaching out to the loner as the most powerful thing we can do to keep our children safe in school,” he said.

This Monday will be the first anniversary on which Newtown’s students will be in school.

“It seemed to be most appropriate and since we’ve had a couple of years that we have that day where children come together and learn and celebrate the gift of learning,” Crebbin said.

Memorials for the 26 lives lost will be held at different services over the weekend. There’s an interfaith Gathering for Prayer and Comfort Monday night at Newtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Detectives Donate Confiscated Electronics to Toy Drive


Honda Smith will always remember how a priest fulfilled her Christmas wish by giving her a bicycle.

“I know there’s some kid out there who wants an XBox or DS or Wii station and mom just can’t afford to get it, but now some kid’s wish is going to come true,” Smith said.

That’s because detectives from the New Haven Police Department’s Burglary and Robbery unit dropped off boxes of confiscated electronics, such as video games and cameras, for the city run Department of Public Works Toy Drive.

“They were all obtained through search warrants into illegal secondhand businesses that were operating throughout the city of New Haven,” Detective Joe Aurora said. “There’s approximately a thousand video games, all various from Wii to Xbox to Playstation.”

All of the electronics are worth about $20 thousand, Aurora said.

“We felt this would be a good way to give back to the community especially around the holidays,” he added.

But there is no way to put a price on what this donation means to Smith, the toy drive’s organizer.

“I’m totally overwhelmed, totally overwhelmed about it,” Smith said, “just to have the police officers to come in to donate all of these different gifts to children, my heart is just crying with joy.”

The electronics from police and all of the toys will be passed out to children December 20th at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Students Wear Pajamas to School to Fight Cancer


Students rolled out of bed and went to school on Friday to help raise money on the 5th annual PJ Day across the state.

NBC Connecticut stopped by Captain Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry where students and even staff members wore their pajamas.

"We earned $1,000 dollars and 175 toys," said 8th grader Courtney Lessard. "So I think that it is amazing that we can give that to C.C.M.C. and to help all those kids."

The money and toys will go to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for its Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Nick Wesoloskie, 6th grader, has seen the hospital many times.

"My sister Charlotte had cancer and I wanted no one to have to go through the same experience," said Wesoloskie.

He started PJ Day when he was just 7 years old, while his baby sister fought for her life.

"She had aggressive cancer in her chest wall and it was pretty bad," said Wesoloskie.

Watching his little sister spend her days bed ridden sparked an idea that he shared with others.

“He wanted us to wear pajamas because the kids have to wear pajamas all day and they can’t really get out of them,” said Lessard.

So far PJ Day has raised more than $20,000 since it started in 2011. Wesoloskie said now some 20 school districts don pajamas to support the cause. Michael Sullivan, 7th grade,  was proud to wear his pajamas Friday and encourage others to do the same.

“If they wore pajamas or donated, we would give them a sticker and thank them,” said Sullivan.

Wesoloskie believes other children with cancer will smile when they play with a toy or learn that others are willing to walk in their shoes, or pajamas even for a day.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

First Responders Push for Law to Combat Opioid Overdose


First responders and lawmakers announced their intention Friday to push for a law that mandates all first responders carry Narcan, the commercially known name for Naloxone, to combat those suffering from opioid overdoses.

“The heroin epidemic in this state is a statewide health crisis that has to be addressed as in all healthcare in a non-judgmental and open manner" said State Representative Theresa Conroy.

Connecticut State Police and all ambulances currently carry the drug which is administered when someone is having an overdose. The drug regulates breathing, preventing death in many instance.

Waterbury firefighters recently started using the drug and they say it's been a literal life saver.

“In 137 days that we have started administering Narcan, we have administered it 129 times. Almost one a day" said Rick Hart, the President of the Uniformed Professional Firefighter Association of Connecticut.

According to the state's Chief Medical Examiner, deaths from opioid overdoses have been on the rise in recent years. Opioids include heroin and many prescription pain killer like hydrocodone.

State records show in 2012 there were 174 deaths from opioid overdoses. By 2014 there were 325 deaths. From January to September of this year, there have been 290 deaths and the number may spike to 400 by the end of the year.

The main political issue would be paying for the drugs. Each dose costs between $50 and $80.
It's expected that the proposed bill would tell cities and towns to cover the costs.

Doctors say the cost of not paying for Narcan is small when one considers the alternative.
Dr. Peter Jacoby is the Director of Emergency Medicine at St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury.

“In a medical sense we say it’s a no-brainer. It’s something that saves lives.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Malloy Enters Uncertain Legal Water with Possible Gun Action


Richard Kay at the UConn School of Law describes the law as "cloudy" when it comes to using a federal "no-fly" or terror watch list to deny gun purchases.

Kay is a 42 year veteran of the law school and scholar of constitutional law on both the state and federal levels.

He says there are multiple ways plaintiffs can challenge an eventual executive order that bars some people from purchasing guns.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced his intention Thursday to draft and sign an executive order barring anyone in Connecticut on federal no-fly or terror watch lists from purchasing guns.

"The question is, ‘does the governor have the authority to change on his own initiative by executive order?’ The legislature has gave this matter relatively extensive consideration a number of years ago" Kay said.

He says since the Connecticut General Assembly has aggressively handled gun issues in the past, and the governor signed them into law, most notable following the Sandy Hook massacre, state laws could be interpreted such that the legislature has the legal authority.

"The governor is changing the rules or purporting to change the rules about who can buy guns."

Governor Malloy, for his part, argued there are laws on the books barring certain people for legitimate reasons from purchasing weapons.

"There’s no conviction for mental illness and we deny people access to guns in certain circumstances involving recent mental illness," Malloy said. "Not everyone who abuses a spouse ends up with a criminal conviction but in many places that’s a basis, physical spousal abuse is a basis to deny somebody the ability to buy a gun."

On the constitutional question of whether the governor could bar someone from purchasing a weapon, a significant step above state laws, Kay pointed to the "no-fly list." He questioned whether the lists would be considered reliable in a court of law considering some of the issues that have been raised by them in the past.

"People have had a terrible time just finding out if they’re on the list. I cannot imagine that it would be so clear and so persuasive that without further investigation anyway that it would be a proper criterion for judging almost anything including maybe who should fly on an airplane."

Republicans were critical of Gov. Malloy today also.

Sen. Scott Frantz, (R - Greenwich), said he expects a legal fight to brew potentially for years before the case of the executive order gets resolved, which he predicted would be at the US Supreme Court.
Frantz said he thinks lawmakers could better handle the issue than any governor, much less a Democrat.

"Would I rather see the General Assembly take it up? Absolutely. Because of these constitutional issues. I’m not saying I’m against this idea, I’m saying I’m against broadly putting into place this policy."

Photo Credit: AP

Neighbors on High Alert After New London Murder


Neighbors in New London are on high alert after a father of seven was murdered and found on the front porch.

"He worked hard from what I heard from my cousin who was really close to him," Edell Lebron of New London told NBC Connecticut. " He was a family man, he loved his family, he was trying to better himself." 

Gilberto Olivencia, 29, was fatally shot last on Thursday night. 

"All I heard was just four 'boom, boom,'" Lina Valentin, who just moved to New London, said. "I thought it was a movie but I just dropped to the floor. Just didn't feel good, felt real eerie, you know?" 

Police are investigating the shooting and want to speak with anyone who has information.

"If we all keep our mouths shut, it's always going to be going on," Jose Perez, another neighbor in New London, said. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

CT Softball Team Sends Christmas Cards to Surviving Fire Victim


Countless holiday parties are happening across Connecticut, but at one in New Haven Friday night, attendees did something different to help grant a wish for a child in another state.

Safyre Terry is the only member of her family to survive a devastating arson fire in Schenectady, NY two years ago. This Christmas all she is asking for are cards from around the world to fill her tree. She took her wish to social media, and the Connecticut Impact softball team knew they had to help. 

“She’s only three years younger than me,” Alyssa Forcier, a player from New Haven said. “It’s just crazy to see a young girl lose her family just like that.”

It’s why before they celebrated the season at their party, the team took the time to write letters to Safyre.
“Safyre, I wish you the happiest Christmas and I would love to be your friend,” player Chelsea Crouch said. “I would love to give you a big hug.”

Handwritten notes and holiday doodles, in each envelope there is hope from a softball team in Connecticut to make Safyre’s season just a little bit better.

“I hope she feels like she got her wish come true,” Jenna Michaud, a player from Southington said.

To send Safyre a card, mail your letter to the following address: Safyre, P.O. Box 6126 Schenectady, NY 12306.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Photos Emerge of Citadel Cadets Looking Like KKK


More than a dozen cadets caused an uproar at their storied South Carolina military college this week after photo surfaced online showing them looking like Ku Klux Klansmen, NBC News reported.

"Preliminary reports are cadets were singing Christmas carols as part of a 'Ghosts of Christmas Past' skit," Citadel President retired Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa said in a statement. "These images are not consistent with our core values of honor, duty and respect."

The photos showed cadets clad in white, including white pillowcases covering their heads like KKK hoods.

The students involved were not immediately identified; Rosa said "cadets known to be involved" were suspended and that administrators were seeking out others. On the Citadel Alumni Association's Facebook page, there was both anger and embarrassment over the photos.

Photo Credit: File--Getty Images
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