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It's Very Hard to Convict Officers in PD Shootings: Experts


In the wake of three high-profile police shooting trials, criminal justice experts told NBC News that it is extremely difficult to convict a law enforcement officer for a fatal shooting.

A pair of Supreme Court rulings from the 1980s puts the law on the side of the police, particularly if they believe they are in danger of death or serious harm. Two of the recent cases, the fatal shootings of Philando Castile and Sylville Smith, hinged on questions of "reasonable fear."

"For better or worse, whether you believe in it or not, [the law] is very favorable to police use of force," said David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "That objective standard is very wide in terms of giving police discretion."

But civil rights advocates say that the wider social issue is implicit racial bias, the idea that everyone holds subconscious racial prejudices — including people in positions of supposed impartiality, like police and judges.

Photo Credit: AP

Gas Leak Closed Middletown Avenue in Wethersfield


A gas leak closed part of Middletown Avenue in Wethersfield, according to the fire department, but it has reopened.

Fire officials said crews were responding to a gas leak near 410 Middletown Avenue and the road was closed between Mill Street and the town line.

The leak has been secured.

Photo Credit: Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department

Subway Derails in Manhattan; Dozens Hurt


A subway derailment and power outage near the 125th Street station in Harlem suspended service on multiple train lines Tuesday, stranding terrified riders in darkened, smoke-filled cars for two hours in some cases.

At least 34 people had injuries including smoke inhalation, though all were expected to be OK, fire officials said. About half of the victims were taken to hospitals while others were assessed at the scene. 

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MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said at a news briefing shortly before noon Tuesday that the brakes on the southbound A train somehow went into emergency mode, propelling the first two cars of the eight-car train into a concrete wall and off the tracks. Sparks erupted, briefly igniting garbage and other debris along the subway tracks, causing heavy smoke but no serious fire, Lhota said.

The derailed train was evacuated, along with two other trains -- one ahead of it and one behind it. The train derailed very close to the 125th Street station, Lhota said, and some riders were able to get off on the platform. Other panicked straphangers looked for alternate means of escape.

"In that moment, you're stuck underground, you are buried alive," passenger Dominique Simone later told News 4. "And I think that's the scariest part of it." 

Photos posted to social media show passengers walking along the tracks in a dark subway tunnel, using their phone flashlights as a guide. Firefighters are seen illuminating the way. The MTA urged stranded riders on other trains not to get off their subways and to wait for directions from crew.

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Major subway service changes were in effect for more than half a dozen lines most of the day. Though local service was restored on the A, B and D lines by the start of the evening rush, commuters were bracing for delays. The C train remains suspended. Click here for real-time updates. 

The derailment caused significant damage to the track, switch system and tunnel, dramatic photos released by the union showed. The MTA says crews will need to work overnight into Wednesday to remove the derailed train and make repairs. They're hoping to restore normal scheduled service in time for the morning rush.

"It’s a serious derailment, with quite of bit of damage to signals and some structural damage to the walls," TWU Local 100 Vice President for the Maintenance of Wayn Division Tony Utano said in a statement. "Our members are working as fast and safely as possible to bring the system back to normal."

At least 100 workers are at the scene, Utano said. Meanwhile, Lhota says the investigation is focusing on why the brakes went into emergency mode.

"This, to the best of my knowledge, does not look like a failure on the part of equipment, does not look like a failure on the part of the track itself," he said. "We need to determine what it is."

Lhota pledged a thorough investigation.

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Passengers describe the train vibrating wildly and bucking as it went off the rails. One rider described the experience as "probably the most terrifying 15 minute of my NYC life."

One man told NBC News he initially thought the jerking was just a part of his normal subway commute. Then the shaking intensified. He says he saw what he thought at first was an explosion. All the lights went out. The train stopped.

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Like many other riders, he feared the train was on fire. Someone kicked out the glass of one of the locked car doors, but the next car was locked. So he jumped to the tracks. 

"I'm thinking, 'I just want to be off this train,'" the rider said. "And that’s scary too because you don’t know what’s going on, on the tracks."

"Mostly everyone was shaken up and nerves frayed, but once we started walking there was smoke, so people started coughing," said Craig Sheil. 

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The derailment comes amid a series of breakdowns, signal failures and other issues that have left straphangers at their breaking point. On Monday, the subway rider whose horrifying account of being stuck on a sweltering, powerless train earlier this month went viral held a news briefing to demand the MTA outline an evacuation procedure for riders who may get stranded in the future.

It also comes less than two weeks before the start of Amtrak's summer-long work to repair aging infrastructure at New York Penn Station, a project that is expected to increase subway volume as commuters seek alternatives.

Photo Credit: @AD_commit
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State Police K-9 Unit Finds Lost Pregnant Woman and Her Boyfriend


A state police dog found a pregnant woman who was lost on a trail Monday night and her boyfriend, who got lost when he went to look for her.

Police said the man called police around 9 p.m. Monday and said his girlfriend, who is five months pregnant, was lost on a trail in the Meriden-Middlefield area and that her phone had lost power.

Police then reached out to Troop I-Bethany for the K-9 Team of Trooper Burke and K-9 Cesar to find the woman.

But she was not the only one lost at that point.

The man who called police had gone to find his girlfriend on the trails but also got lost. Trooper Burke and Cesar found the couple around 15 minutes later.

No one was injured.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police
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South Windsor Police Seek Missing 21-Year-Old


Police in South Windsor are trying to locate a 21-year-old man who hasn’t been heard from in several weeks.

Jamal Butler is described as 5-foot-10 and around 150 pounds. His family has not heard from him in several weeks and he was last seen in South Windsor in mid-May.

Anyone who has heard Butler from or with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact South Windsor Officer David Johnson at 860-644-2551 or the confidential tipline at 860-648-6226.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police Department

Trumbull Police Seek Suspect in Daytime Burglaries


Trumbull police are looking for the suspect in two residential burglaries that happened Monday morning.

Police said the burglaries occurred around 9:30 a.m. at homes on Walker Road and Thomas Street. The suspect got in through a window and stole small items from both houses.

One of the homes was occupied at the time.

Surveillance video shows the suspect riding a bicycle away from one of the burglaries. The suspect has dark hair and was wearing a blue shirt over a lighter blue shirt and a backpack at the time of the crimes.

Anyone with information or who recognizes the suspect in the above photo is asked to contact Trumbull police Detective Sergeant Falkenstein at 203-261-3665 ext. 245, via e-mail at bfalksenstein@trumbull-ct.gov or by using the department’s tips webpage.

Photo Credit: Trumbull Police Department

Snap Map Location Feature Raises Privacy Concerns


Snapchat’s new Snap Map location feature allows users to pinpoint the exact location of their friends in real time and that is causing some concern.

“I just feel that it’s a little too much information out there for everyone to see,” Diana Larock, of Wallingford, said.

Brian Kelly, chief information security officer for Quinnipiac University, said any Snapchat user can potentially see where you are and that raises red flags because so many users are children and could be unknowingly making themselves targets for predators.

“The stranger danger that we used to tell our kids about – you know, be on the lookout for a creepy van. Now they don’t need the van anymore. They can just go onto an application and find out where you are at any given time,” Kelly said.

“I think it’s kind of creepy because everyone can see who you are and a lot of people don’t know how to turn the location off, so it could be dangerous,” Megan Thorpe, of Wallingford, said.

To hide your location from the Snap Map, select “ghost mode” in the Snapchat settings.

Thorpe said she did that right away when she found out about it.

Ben Simmons-Telep, of East Hampton, said users don’t know exactly how data is being used or who has access to that data.

Security experts said parents should stay up to date about the apps sharing their children’s location and make sure children limit their audience or shut them off altogether.

“It’s really important for the parents to reach out and understand or speak to their kids about the dangers of the location in any application whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, any of those,” Kelly said.

Learn more about Snap Map here.

Anyone who sees anything inappropriate on Snap Map can report it by going to the Snap you want to report, press and hold on the Snap, tap the button that appears in the bottom left corner and let Snapchat know why you want to report the Snap.   

NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC Connecticut, has made a $500 million investment in Snapchat.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mother and Son Charged with Stealing from Elderly Relative


A Shelton mother and her son are accused of stealing over $200,000 while acting as power of attorney for an elderly relative.

Kristina Ukanowicz, 62, and Joseph Ukanowicz, 29, both face charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.

According to Ansonia police, Kristina was the power of attorney over her mother finances over a three-year period. During that time, the victim’s accounts went from holding a $200,000 balance to a negative balance over $1,000.

Investigators said that the pattern of spending and withdrawals from the accounts changed drastically from when the victim managed her own accounts to when Kristina was power of attorney.

The victim was in her eighties at the time.

Police said Joseph was also involved in the theft. According to police, when interviewed both Kristina and Josepha admitted to stealing the money but each blamed the other for the crime.

Joseph appeared in court on June 19 and is currently being held on a $50,000 bond.

Kristina was held on a $35,000 and appeared in court Tuesday.

GOP Healthcare Bill Could Cost CT Nearly $3 Billion a Year


The Senate Republican version of the federal healthcare legislation could threaten healthcare coverage for tens-of-thousands of Connecticut residents, raise health care premiums and cost the state as much as $2.9 billion per year, according to the governor’s office. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman released a statement saying the findings are from a new analysis of the impact on Connecticut of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which would be fully implemented in 2026. 

“Plain and simple—the Senate Republican version of Trumpcare is a greater disaster for the people of Connecticut than the version passed by House Republicans. It is appalling and needs to be stopped in its tracks,” Malloy said in a statement. “This bill has the potential to result in a devastating cost shift of nearly $3 billion to Connecticut and could eliminate access to health care for tens-of-thousands of our residents, needlessly putting their lives at risk. Particularly for some of our most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, premiums and costs will increase, making coverage unaffordable. If enacted, Trumpcare will jeopardize the coverage people already have, drive up costs, and severely limit care. I urge the Senate to reject this disastrous bill.” 

The Office of Policy and Management conducted the analysis and found that the Senate Republican proposal threatens coverage for seniors and low-income families, among others, according to the governor’s office. 

This is the expected impact the proposal will have on Connecticut, according to the governor’s office. 

The anticipated funding reduction by 2026 in the proposed bill is equivalent to 80,000 to 230,000 fewer Connecticut residents being served under Medicaid. 

The elimination of the individual and employer mandate are anticipated to increase premiums by an estimated 10 to 15 percent. 

The repeal of the Cost Sharing Reduction Program has the potential to increase premiums by an additional 20 percent. 

Changes to eligibility for premium subsidies could impact nearly 6,500 current Access Health CT enrollees who will no longer qualify. 

“This analysis adds a fiscal impact to the real life stories of thousands of Connecticut individuals who packed public hearings, flooded phone lines and protested in the streets against this reprehensible plan,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this is a wealth care plan, not a healthcare plan – a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans paid for with the lives and livelihoods of everyone else. I will be doing everything in my power to ensure defeat of this grotesquely cruel and costly plan.” 

“The Senate health care bill will be a disaster for Connecticut,” U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement. “It’ll cost the state nearly $3 billion a year by 2026. It charges seniors more and threatens to kick more than 200,000 Connecticut residents off of Medicaid, all to fund a giant tax cut for the wealthy. It will force families in Connecticut to choose between paying their medical bills and their mortgage. Bottom line, people will suffer. We have to stop this bill. Call your friends, go online and tell everyone you know about what this bill will do.” 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Middletown School Staff Member Fired After Allegations


A staff member at a Middletown elementary school has been fired after allegations of inappropriate conduct surfaced. 

Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew said in a statement that he terminated the employment of a staff member at Snow School after allegations surfaced that the man texted and tried to meet up with a 14-year-old boy at a local Walmart. 

NBC Connecticut contacted the man today, but he did not want to speak with us. 

We are not naming him because no charges have been filed. 

Middletown police said they are in the early stages of their investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Wanted for Hitting Victim With Bottle in West Haven: Police


A 29-year-old man is wanted for serious assault in West Haven, police said. 

The victim was trying to end their relationship with Matthew Blango on Saw Mill Road around 4:50 p.m. on Monday, West Haven police said. 

Blango is accused on striking the victim in the head with a bottle, according to police. 

The victim's injuries required medical attention. 

West Haven police were unsuccessful in located Blango, who is a convicted felon.

Anyone having contact or knowing of his whereabouts is asked to contact West Haven Police at (203) 937-3900, or use any of the department's social media platforms. All information can remain anonymous.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Wallingford Man Pleads Guilty to Bitcoin Phishing Scheme on Dark Web: Officials


A Wallingford man has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges connected to a scheme to steal more than $365,000 worth of bitcoins on the dark web, according to federal officials. 

Michael Richo, 35, of Wallingford, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court, according to Deirdre Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. 

Bitcoins are a form of electronic currency, which online marketplaces on the dark web typically accept as a payment method, and Richo was accused of taking part in an online phishing scheme to steal bitcoins from people on the dark web. 

Federal officials said that by pleading guilty, Richo admitted that he posted fake links to online marketplaces on dark web forums, which directed individuals to a fake login page that looked like the real login pages for the various online marketplaces. 

When people tried to log in, Richo stole usernames and passwords and then monitored the individual’s bitcoin balance at the real marketplace. 

If the individual later deposited bitcoins with the real marketplace, Richo withdrew them before the individual could spend them, deposited them into his own bitcoin wallet and sold the stolen bitcoins to others in exchange for U.S. currency, federal officials said. 

Federal officials said Richo had more than 10,000 stolen usernames and passwords saved on his computer. He pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28. 

Richo has agreed to forfeit various computers and electronic devices, an assortment of precious coins and metals, and up to $365,000. 

Since he was arrested on Oct. 5, 2016, Richo has been released on bond with computer monitoring conditions. 

Photo Credit: AP

Here's How Countries Fare on Combating Human Trafficking


A new report by the U.S. State Department lays out which countries are adhering to U.S. guidelines on Human Trafficking. The report divides the world into three tiers: those who fully meet minimum standards outlined in The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) for addressing human trafficking, those who don't fully meet the standards but who are making an effort to combat trafficking, and those who are not meeting the standards and are not making an effort to do so. 

Human trafficking is the coercion of others to perform sex work, involuntary servitude or forced labor. A widespread form of modern-day slavery, victims are often smuggled across borders to work for nothing, though many are enslaved without migration. 

It's an international problem that ruins the lives of thousands of women, children and men. In 2016, over 66,000 victims of trafficking were identified by the 2017 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report, but many more victims than this suffer in silence. Trafficking tears families apart and distorts nations' economies. Some governments are now beginning to address the crisis by adhering to the TVPA. 

Check out the map above to see what countries are doing the most and least to address human trafficking.

The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or

2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 

Here is more information on the categories: 

Tier 1
The governments of countries that fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Tier 2
The governments of countries that do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Tier 2 Watch List
The government of countries that do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and for which:

a. the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;

b. there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecution, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials; or

c. the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional steps over the next year.

Tier 3
The governments of countries that do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Source: 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, State Department

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Malloy Signs Bill Authorizing East Windsor Casino Gaming Facility


Gov. Dannel Malloy signed legislation that authorizes the operation of a casino gaming facility in East Windsor.

"Over the years, our state has maintained a longstanding partnership and compact with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations, who employ thousands of Connecticut residents at their casinos," Malloy said. "Make no mistake about it – the legislation I signed today is about jobs for the residents of Connecticut, and securing those jobs in our state."

The legislation, Public Act 17-89, specifies that the casino will be owned and operated by MMCT Venutre, LLC, a joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. 

The act comes with certain conditions. Firstly, a $1 million initial payment will be made by the tribes to the State of Connecticut. Secondly, the state will receive 25 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR) from video facsimile games, and 25 percent of GGR from all other authorized games, with 10 percent of that amount going to the state’s tourism efforts and the remaining 15 percent toward the state’s general fund, Malloy's office wrote in a statement.

MMCT will be responsible for paying $300,000 a year to address problem gambling. Additionally, the tribes will also handle costs of regulatory oversight conducted bye the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).

Lastly, the towns of Ellington, Enfield, South Windsor, Windsor Locks, East Hartford and the City of Hartford will be paid annual grants from the state of $750,000.

"This bill protects Connecticut jobs and adds new ones – it’s good for our economy and our workforce," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "It also speaks to our long relationship with Connecticut’s tribal nations and the importance of that partnership and the compact."

The legislation gives DCP oversight, licensing, and regulation over the East Windsor casino, and any other casino that may be authorized by the legislature in the future.

Your Hail Photos from Today's Thunderstorms

GOP Health Care Bill Could Raise Premiums 74 Percent: Study


Health care premiums could rise 74 percent for the average customer under the Republican Senate health care bill, according to a new report.

Older and low-income Americans could face the highest increases for coverage, with Americans between ages 55 and 64 with lower incomes seeing a 294 percent increase in premiums. NBC News reported that the study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation factored in the price of insurance and the amount of subsidies people would receive. 

The Senate bill, supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., encourages customers to purchase plans with higher deductibles. The subsidies would cover an average of 58 percent of costs, compared to Obamacare’s 70 percent.

In its analysis on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office said that premiums and deductibles could be too high for many low-income customers to buy coverage.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File

Lanes Closed on I-84 in Cheshire, Heavy Delays

9 CT Cities Among 30 of the Safest Places to Raise a Child


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tracking Scattered Showers and Thunderstorms


NBC Connecticut Meteorologists are continuing to track a line of thunderstorms moving through the state.

Take a look at Live First Alert Doppler Radar.

The main threat with these storms have been small hail. In addition to the hail you can also expect frequent lightning, gusty winds, and heavy rain. 

Check out some of the photos that were sent in to NBC Connecticut. Several towns throughout the state experienced hail.

The thunderstorm threat will come to an end after 7 p.m. tonight with scattered showers early this evening. 

A rather cool night is expected with temperatures falling into the middle 50s. Beautiful weather is expected by tomorrow with mostly sunny skies and high temperatures in the middle to upper 70s. 

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Software Error Delays Torrington Woman's Refund


A Torrington woman struggled for weeks to get a refund for a faulty item due to a software error.

Bonnie Dougal purchased a portable essential oil diffuser for her car, plus several vials of oil and filters, from online retailer Live Yoga Strong. She contacted the retailer after the diffuser stopped working and was issued a replacement. Bonnie requested a full refund when the second diffuser turned out to be faulty as well.

Live Yoga Strong issued the refund and told her to expect a credit within 5 to 10 days, but the funds did not appear in her account. Bonnie contacted the company and was told the refund had been successfully issued.

After NBC Connecticut Responds reached out, Live Yoga Strong’s founder checked their systems and found a software error had prevented the refund from being processed. They corrected the error, reissued the full $59 refund manually, and apologized for the confusion.

Refunds can take several weeks to post to an account when returning purchases online or with a card, so you may want to keep an eye on your accounts until the credit is applied.

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