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Hamden Woman Has Been Missing for a Month


Police have issued a Silver Alert for a Hamden woman who has been missing for almost a month.

Sunayana Srivastava, 34, has been missing since Nov. 4, according to a Silver Alert issued on Wednesday.

Sunayana is 5-feet-3 and weighs 90 pounds.

Police did not have a description of what she was wearing when she disappeared.

If you see Sunayana, call Hamden police at 203-230-4000.

Photo Credit: Silver Alert

Sketch of New Fairfield Burglar Released


A man broke into a New Fairfield home two years ago and assaulted a woman when she returned home, according to state police. Now they have released a sketch of that man, in hopes that it will help identify him.

State police and New Fairfield police responded to a home on Newfane Road at 10:15 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2012 after receiving a 911 call from a woman who reported a burglar was in her home when she returned, assaulted her and fled, police said.

The woman was transported to Danbury Hospital to be evaluated and state police K-9 teams searched the area, and but didn’t find the intruder.

See the wanted poster.

However, authorities were able to find physical and forensic evidence.

The intruder is described as a clean-shaven man, around 30 years old, with brown eyes. He is between 5-feet 8 and 5-feet 10 and was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, black sneakers and low-riding blue jeans.

Anyone with information about the case or who knows the robber should call the State Police Western District Major Crime at 203-696-2569.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Man In Critical Condition After Hamden Crash


A 30-year-old Hamden man is in critical condition after losing control of his car and hitting another car this morning, according to police.

Alex Soto's vehicle crossed the center line at Ridge Road and Pickwick Road at 7:52 a.m. and hit a car with a mother and her two children inside, police said.

A nurse practitioner from Yale-New Haven Hospital was passing by and performed CPR on Soto, police said. He was then transported to Yale-New Haven to be treated for serious injuries.

The mother and two children were not hurt, according to police.

Police ask anyone with information on the crash to call the Hamden Police Department Traffic Division at (203) 230-4036.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Stamford Police Arrest Driver in Double Fatal Hit-and-Run


Stamford police have arrested a suspected hit-and-run driver officers have been looking for in a double fatal crash from last month.

Felicia Burl, 32, of Bridgeport, was traveling southbound on Alvord Lane in a 2002 Nissan Altima on Nov. 7 at 8:37 p.m. when she ran a red light and slammed into the passenger side of a 2007 BMW, police said. Her passenger, Henry Nixon, 50, of Stamford, was ejected from Burl's car and died at Stamford Hospital from his injuries.

Anthony Andriulli, 73, the driver of the BMW, was crossing the intersection on West Main Street in the westbound direction when the collision happened and he was seriously injured, police said. His wife, Judith Andriulli, 70, who was in the front passenger seat, died in the hospital on Nov. 8. The couple is from the Cos Cob section of Stamford.

The Nissan Altima driver ran from the car after the crash. Police identified Burl as the missing driver through forensic analysis of the crime scene, police said.

United States Marshals and Stamford police located Burl at an address on Greenwood Hill Street in town and brought her into custody, police said. Her connection to the address is unclear.

Police charged her with two counts of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and two counts of felony-level evading responsibility, police said.

Police are holing her in custody on a $500,000 court-set bond and she is scheduled to appear in Stamford Superior Court on Dec. 4.

Stamford's digital forensics, crime scene, narcotics and organized crime unites assisted the Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Squad in the investigation of the crash.

Photo Credit: Stamford Police Department

D.C. Candidate, 34, Dies Suddenly


A.J. Cooper, a Ward 4 candidate for D.C. Council, died suddenly Wednesday morning. He was 34 and had gotten engaged less than a week ago.

Cooper had been running for the Council seat being vacated by Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser.

Peggy Cooper Cafritz, A.J.'s aunt, confirmed Cooper's death to News4. She said he was at his mother's home when he died sometime before 9 a.m.

Cooper complained about chest pain and dizziness before he collapsed, according to his campaign's Facebook page. Cooper Cafritz said his mother attempted to perform CPR.

"He was a hell of a kid who was just coming into his own," Cooper Cafritz told News4's Mark Segraves.

Algernon "Jay" Cooper III had proposed to his girlfriend, Ryan Palmer, over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a tribute on the Elect A.J. Cooper Facebook page. "He was excited about beginning a life with Ryan and being more involved in the life of the city," the post said.

Cooper also told News4 on Monday that he was looking forward to running in the special election.

That day, he attended a Ferguson protest outside the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We need to turn all of this energy, all of this passion, all of this pain, into power, into something positive, into real change that will improve outcomes in people's lives," he said.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Cooper graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Maryland, according to a biography on his website. He served as policy director for D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and was once a host on BET's "Teen Summit."

Stay with NBCWashington.com and News4 for more.

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Blood Drive Today Honors Fallen New Haven Police Sergeant


The New Haven Police Department is holding a blood drive today in memory of one of the own who died several years ago.

The blood drive is in memory of Sgt. Dario Scott Aponte, who died in the line of duty on Sept. 10, 2008, when he was involved in a crash while responding to a domestic violence call.

The blood drive is from 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3 in the New Haven Police Department Gymnasium at 1 Union Avenue.

Officers and the public are encouraged to donate.

You can make an appointment by calling the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by logging on to redcrossblood.org.

Yale Director Hosts "Night At the Museum" Film Screening


A Yale alumnus is preparing for another one of his projects to hit the big screen and is hosting a screening right here in Connecticut.

Director Shawn Levy, who graduated from Yale University in 1989, is hosting a special screening of his new film, "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven.

The film, starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and the late Robin Williams, follows Larry (Ben Stiller) as he is reunited with old characters and meets new ones, embarking on a quest to save the magic of the museum, according to a release from 20th Century Fox.

This is the third movie in the "Night at the Museum" film series that began with the first one in 2006, followed by "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009). Levy directed all three.

Levy graduated from the Drama Department of Yale University at the age of 20, and later went on to study film and the art of directing in the Masters Film Production Program at USC, according to the release. He is most well-known for directing hit comedies such as The Internship (2013), The Pink Panther (2006) and Cheaper By The Dozen (2003).

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is set to open in theaters on Dec. 19.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Prank Call Prompts Mass Police Presence in Enfield


Police swarmed 45 Monroe Road in Enfield on Wednesday morning after receiving what they are calling a prank call around 7:30 a.m. from someone who said he murdered his wife and was thinking about killing his children. Now they are investigating.

Authorities said this morning they do not believe this was a so-called "swatting" call. Instead, they believe the call came from the home.

Scott Morgan says he lives in the home with his father, his brother and his son, who were all sleeping around 7:30 a.m.

“I didn’t do it,” he said.

Morgan said he knew nothing about the dramatic scene unfolding outside his home until he heard from neighbor

“When the neighbor sent me the text on my phone, that's when I went and looked and was like, ‘Oh wow,’” Morgan said.

Police said this morning that there were some inconsistencies in one person's statements, so they set up a perimeter as a precaution.

All four people who live in the home came out, uninjured, and were questioned at the scene but no one has been taken into custody.

An alert went out to the community and officials asked people to stay inside if possible, but the scene was clear as of 9:30 a.m. and the roads have since reopened.

Local schools were not affected by the incident and no arrests have been made, police said, but they are investigating.

"It's not only the money ... but also you're taking resources away. God forbid there’s a situation in another area that requires the guys that are here and you’re taking them away from where they need to be," Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Suspect in Unsolved Murder in Police Custody


Police arrested a man wanted in the unsolved murder of a New Britain soldier that happened in Springfield, Massachusetts four years ago.

Bridgeport police took Michael Rodriguez, 30, into custody made a felony extradition arrest on Dec. 1, according to the Connecticut judicial website and the Hampden County district attorney's office in Massachusetts.

Springfield police contacted the Bridgeport Police Department about an active murder arrest warrant for Rodriguez and said they had information he was in Bridgeport, according to Bridgeport police. Three Bridgeport detectives assigned to the U.S. Marshal's task force located Rodriguez at a Central Avenue address on the third floor and took him into custody on the fugitive from justice warrant, police said.

Rodriguez also faces pending charges in the murder of Julian Cartie when he returns to Massachusetts and he didn't waive extradition, according to the Hampden County district attorney's office.

Cartie was shot in front of the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, according to surveillance footage, after leaving to a bar at 2 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009. A man got out of a car after an argument, opened fire and fled in a blue sedan, police said. Cartie was rushed to Baystate Medical Center and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving. 

Cartie played football for New Britain High School and University of Buffalo. He had just completed basic training for the National Guard in Connecticut before he was killed and he was months from being deployed to Afghanistan.

It is unclear if Cartie and Rodriguez knew each other.

Rodriguez is also due in Bridgeport Superior Court on Dec. 30 for the extradition arrest and is being held in custody on a $500,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Department of Correction

Mall Santa Rejects Girl With Autism


A Southern California mall has apologized to a 7-year-old girl with autism whose Christmas wish was crushed after Santa Claus and elf impersonators rejected her because of her service pit bull named Pup-Cake.

Abcde Santos, whose name is pronounced ab-suh-dee, and her family waited in line for 30 minutes at The Shops in Mission Viejo on Sunday to meet Santa. When it was her turn, Santa turned her away because he was afraid of Pup-Cake, family spokeswoman Julie Marie Miller said via Facebook.

"Autism is accompanied by many sensory issues, included self-harm behaviors and feeling overwhelmed at times by lights, sounds, especially when waiting," Miller said. "Pup-Cake the service dog’s job is to intervene in those moments."

A post on the Pup-Cake the Service Dog Facebook page showed a picture of the girl upset after the incident and described Santa saying that he wouldn't see her because "those dogs eat people."

Santa then said he had allergies after learning that it was illegal to deny the girl under the Americans with Disabilites Act, the post read. But he refused again to see the girl despite the family's offer to remove 5-year-old Pup-Cake, described as a sweet dog with a patient disposition, from the mall.

"Santa still refused to see the child; sending her away heartbroken leaving a family to comfort a child instead of celebrating her accomplishments," Miller said.

Abcde wanted to ask Santa what he wanted for Christmas so she could make it for him, the post stated. She left the mall in tears.

Mall management and the company behind "The Santa Photo Experience" issued a public apology and has offered the family a private visit with Santa — Pup-Cake included.

"The entire team at The Noerr Programs sincerely apologizes for any distress caused by this situation, and truly regrets the incident," Noerr Programs CEO Judy Noerr said in a statement. "We have reached out to the girl's family, in an effort to extend a private Santa visit with complimentary photos of both the child and her service dog."

Miller said the Santos family's "goal is primarily and always to educate and inform those ignorant of the American Disabilities Act to ensure there are no more victims."

The Santa and elf have been reassigned to a different mall, mall spokesman Charles Russell told NBC4 on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: The Santos Family

No Indictment in Chokehold Death


A Staten Island grand jury has cleared an NYPD officer of criminal wrongdoing in the chokehold case of Eric Garner, the unarmed man who died while being arrested in the borough earlier this year, the district attorney's office said Wednesday.

In delivering a vote of "no true bill," jurors determined there was not probable cause that a crime was committed by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was seen on a widely watched amateur video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!" during the July 17 confrontation.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the Justice Department will now be conducting its own investigation into Garner's death, and that prosecutors will also conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation.

"We have all seen the video of Mr. Garner's arrest. His death, of course, was a tragedy," he said.

"Mr. Garner's death is one of several recent incidents across the country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect," Holder added. "This is not a New York issue or a Ferguson issue alone."

Garner, who had been stopped by Pantaleo and several other NYPD officers, including two sergeants, on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold. The father of three's health issues, including obesity, were listed as contributing factors in the autopsy report.

Pantaleo was the only officer facing potential charges. He has been on modified desk duty and doing crime analysis statistics since Garner's death, according to his attorney, Stuart London. The other officers at the scene that summer day were offered immunity for their testimony to the grand jury.

In a statement, Pantaleo said he never intended to harm anyone.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves," Pantaleo said. "It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

Garner's family told NBC News they were angry and frustrated by the grand jury's vote, and thought the video showing Garner's arrest was indisputable proof of wrongdoing. 

"There's no doubt in my mind or the mind of all the people out there in the world that what we saw in that video cannot be disputed," said Garner's wife, Esaw Garner. "How they disputed it, I don't know."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been representing the family, announced in a news conference Wednesday evening that the Garners will be helping to lead a national march in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Dec. 13.

"It is time for a national march to deal with a national crisis," he said.

The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from a murder charge to a lesser offense like reckless endangerment. It wasn't clear what charges the jurors had considered.

In a statement, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan offered his condolences to Garner's family and friends "who have consistently carried themselves with grace during the past four months" and thanked the grand jurors for their commitment to the investigation "and for the careful manner in which they discharged their solemn duty."

"Clearly this matter was of special concern in that an unarmed citizen of our County had died in police custody," Donovan said, adding that is why he convened a special grand jury to hear the case. "All 23 members of this community who comprised the Grand Jury in this matter dutifully fulfilled that commitment by attending each and every one of the sessions that began on September 29, 2014, and concluded on December 3, 2014."

Garner's mother and widow were expected to hold a news conference with the Rev. Al Sharpton later Wednesday. Previously, relatives said the video and medical examiner's report should be enough to warrant an indictment. Police union officials and Pantaleo's lawyer had argued that the officer didn't use a chokehold but a takedown move taught by the police department, and that Garner's poor health was the main reason he died.

After the grand jury decision Wednesday, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the union was pleased, but "there are no winners here today."

"There was a loss of life that both a family and a police officer will always have to live with," Lynch said. "No police officer starts a shift intending to take another human being's life and we are all saddened by this tragedy.”

The case grabbed national headlines and sparked outrage weeks before the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, set off a firestorm over police tactics and race relations.

The jurors' decision comes about a week after they heard testimony from Pantaleo, one of their last witnesses from whom they heard for about two hours, and several months after they were impaneled to hear evidence. On Staten Island, grand jurors are permitted to call out questions, and London told MSNBC they asked about 20 of the police officer while he was on the stand.

Of the 23 members of the Garner grand jury, 14 are white, nine are non-white and at least five are black, according to two people familiar with the grand jury's racial makeup.

Pantaleo is white, and Garner was black. Garner's family, in an effort to thwart tensions, has consistently said race should not be a factor in the case, but protests in Ferguson have raised concerns in New York.

Crowds began gathering Wednesday evening at the Tompkinsville site where Garner died Wednesday evening and more than 100 people protested the grand jury decision by lying on the floor of Grand Central Terminal as police fanned across the five boroughs to secure the demonstrations.

Ahead of the anticipated rallies, Mayor de Blasio called for "peaceful, constructive" means of expression on this "deeply emotional day."

"We all agree that demonstrations and free speech are valuable contributions to debate, and that violence and disorder are not only wrong -- but hurt the critically important goals we are trying to achieve together," the mayor said.

Garner's mother Gwen Carr echoed the sentiment at the news conference led by Sharpton.

"Make a statement, but make it in peace," she pleaded to supporters, adding that "this thing is just breaking my heart, it's pulling me apart." 

De Blasio said the NYPD has begun implementing long-term reforms this year to "ensure we don't endure tragedies like this one again in the future. But we also know that this chapter is not yet complete."

The NYPD internal investigation into Garner's death is ongoing, the mayor said.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating and should the federal government choose to indict, de Blasio said New York City would cooperate.

"All of us must work together to make this right - to work for justice - and to build the kind of city -- and nation -- we need to be," he said.

President Obama, who met with de Blasio and Sharpton at the White House Monday as part of a series of meetings on Ferguson, echoed the mayor's comments Wednesday. He said the nation has been dealing with mistrust between communities of color and police for too long and pledged to work with local governments in those communities to bridge the gaps -- in perception and reality.

"I want to know here that we are not going to let up until we see strength of trust and strength of accountability between communities and law enforcement," Obama said.

Garner's wife, Esaw Garner, vowed at the family's news conference, "My husband's death will not be in vain. As long as I have a breath in my body, I will fight the fight till the very end." 

In New York, the grand jury does not hear opening or closing statements from the district attorney, who simply presents evidence and instructs them on the relevant principles of the law they need to make their decision on whether charges should be filed. To formally charge a person with a crime, at least 12 grand jurors who have heard all the evidence and the legal instructions must agree that there is sufficient evidence and reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed.

Donovan could not disclose further details of the case because of New York law surrounding grand juries, but said he had applied for a court order seeking authorization to publicly release specific elements of the proceedings. The application is under court consideration, he said.

The last time an NYPD officer was charged with using a deadly chokehold was in 1994. In that case, the officer, Francis Livoti, was convicted in federal court of killing 29-year-old Anthony Baez after being acquitted in a state trial. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for criminally negligent homicide.  

Photo Credit: AP

NYC Ants Eat Thousands of Pounds of Trash, Keep Rats at Bay: Study


Urban ants, some of New York City’s tiniest inhabitants, are trash-eating, rat-fighting machines, according to a new study.

Researchers from North Carolina State University found that colonies of the arthropods living in the city’s streets and parks eat thousands of pounds of discarded junk food and keeping populations of rats and other pests at bay in the process.

The researchers said that the ants that live in the medians of the city’s thoroughfares are particularly helpful. Along Broadway alone, researchers said, ants ate about 2,100 pounds of junk food -- the equivalent of 60,000 hot dogs -- in less than one year.

"This isn't just a silly fact," said Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, the author of the study. "This highlights a very real service that these arthropods provide. They effectively dispose of our trash for us."

Youngsteadt said that researchers came to their conclusions after putting out measured samples of junk food in street medians and city parks during 2012 and 2013. Some samples were put in cages that only ants could access, while others were put in the open so other animals could eat them. Researchers left the food out for 24 hours and then came back to see how much the ants had taken. 

It found that the ants in the medians took the most junk food, eating two to three times what park ants consumed.

They found that food in open areas was also picked at by other city-dwelling species, like rats and pigeons, but the ants ate enough food to keep other animals away.

"This means that ants and rats are competing to eat human garbage, and whatever the ants eat isn't available for the rats," Youngsteadt said. "The ants aren't just helping to clean up our cities, but to limit populations of rats and other pests."

Researchers say they were also surprised to see many of the ants weather Sandy, which struck during the middle of their study. The storm had no measurable impact on the ants’ food consumption, even though many of the areas where the study was conducted had been flooded with brackish water.

Timeline: Garner's Chokehold Death


A timeline of events after Eric Garner's death while he was being arrested on Staten Island:

Thursday, July 17, 2014: Eric Garner is arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on Victory Boulevard and Bay Street in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island. Cellphone video captures the unarmed 43-year-old black man being taken into custody, and he's heard saying "I can't breathe, I can't breathe" as officer Daniel Pantaleo places him in an apparent chokehold, a tactic prohibited by NYPD policy. Garner goes into cardiac arrest.  

EMS workers arrive, and they do not appear to administer CPR on Garner. Garner is taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he is pronounced dead. 

Saturday, July 19: Pantaleo is placed on modified assignment pending further investigation into the video. Another officer involved in the arrest, a four-year veteran of the force, is put on administrative duty but does not have to surrender his gun or shield. Court records show that within the past two years, three men sued Pantaleo, who is white, in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests. 

Monday, July 21: The four EMS workers who responded after Garner went into cardiac arrest are suspended without pay, after initially being put on modified duty. The workers -- two EMTs and two paramedics -- were not city employees, but worked for Richmond University Medical Center. 

Tuesday, July 22: NYPD Commissioner William Bratton says the police department would retrain its officers on the use of force, which includes sending a team of officers to Los Angeles to learn how that city's police department modified its use-of-force protocols after several high-profile episodes of brutality.

About 100 people gather in a vigil and march for Eric Garner in Tompkinsville, the first of several protests against what demonstrators deem police brutality. 

Wednesday, July 23: Hundreds gather in Brooklyn for Garner's funeral, including his six children. Sharpton speaks at the funeral: "Let's not play games with this. You don't need no training to stop choking a man saying 'I can't breathe.' You don't need no cultural orientation to stop choking a man saying 'I can't breathe.' You need to be prosecuted and you need to be put away."

Thursday, July 31: Mayor de Blasio hosts a discussion with the police commissioner and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- one of the police department's most outspoken critics -- to try to ease tensions with minority communities after Garner's death. Sharpton provacatively invokes de Blasio's teenage son, whose mother is black: "If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold. And we've got to deal with that reality." 

Also, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan says he'll determine whether to empanel a grand jury and charges officers in Garner's death. The D.A.'s office has a strong working relationship with the NYPD and has constituents who are overwhelmingly white and include many officers and their relatives.

Civil rights attorney Normal Siegel, a former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said his instincts tell him the jury pool in a criminal case "would be more open and fair if it was in the federal court."

"Without stereotyping all Staten Islanders, there are problems with racial thinking throughout the city, including among segments of Staten Island," Siegel said.

Friday, August 1: The city's medical examiner rules Garner's death a homicide, saying a chokehold killed him. The medical examiner says compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner's positioning on the ground while being restrained by police caused his death. Garner's acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors

Tuesday, August 5: PBA President Patrick Lynch blasts the autopsy report as "political," and denies that Pantaleo used a chokehold while trying to arrest Garner. He denies that race played any role in the confrontation. 

"It is a person's behavior that leads to interactions with police, not who they are, what they look like or how much money they have in their pocket," Lynch said.

Wednesday, August 13: Donovan tells NBC 4 New York's Andrew Siff that he's assigned eight district attorneys and 10 non-NYPD detectives to investigate the Garner case, more people than any other case since he's been in office. He says he's been clear and transparent with Garner's family, and added that the NYPD "deserves answers too." 

"We've got to collect the dots before we connect the dots," he says. 

Tuesday, August 19: Donovan announces the Garner case will go to a grand jury, saying that after reviewing the medical examiner's findings, his office decided "it is appropriate to present evidence regarding circumstances of his death to a Richmond County Grand Jury."

Saturday, August 23: More than 2,500 people march through Staten Island to protest Garner's death. Many carry signs, some reading "Police the NYPD" or "RIP Eric Garner." The most popular signs were "Hands up, don't shoot," echoing protests in Missouri over the police killing of Michael Brown, and "I can't breathe," Garner's last words. They cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Monday, Sept. 15: As part of a renewed focus on police chokeholds after Garner's death, an NYPD watchdog says instances of NYPD chokeholds may be undercounted across the city because of confusion over what actually constitutes a chokehold. 

"Different teams of investigators have used different definitions to identify chokehold cases," says Richard Emery, the chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. 

Friday, Sept. 19, 2014: Renowned forensics expert Michael Barden -- who conducted an independent autopsy on Michael Brown in Ferguson -- agrees with the New York City medical examiner's findings in Garner's death, saying neck compressions led to his death. He backs the Garner family's assertion that his asthma and other health problems weren't what killed him. 

"Compression of the neck that prevents breathing trumps everything else as cause of death," he said.

PBA President Pat Lynch says there's a difference between "compression" and "asphyxiation": "You did not hear the private medical examiner say they saw signs of asphyxiation. What they saw is compression to the neck, which is consistent to the medical treatment Mr. Garner would have received by EMS."

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014: A grand jury begins hearing evidence in the Garner case. 

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014: Garner's family files notice of claim to sue the city and the NYPD for $75 million, alleging that "negligence, recklessness and carelessness" on the part of police resulted in his chokehold death last July

Friday, Nov. 21: Pantaleo testifies before the Garner grand jury for about two hours, giving his account of Garner's death. The development signals the grand jury could be close to deciding whether Pantaleo should face criminal charges. 

Tuesday, Nov. 25: A grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decides not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer accused of shooting and killing Michael Brown. The news sets off protests across the country, including in New York City, where people also protested the deaths of Garner and Akai Gurley, who died Nov. 20 after accidentally being shot by a police officer in a dark stairwell in Brooklyn. 

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Garner's family joins the families of Michael Brown and Akai Gurley in Harlem as Sharpton speaks about the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury decision. 

Saturday, Nov. 29: As anger over the Michael Brown case in Ferguson persists, protesters take to the streets of Harlem to voice their concerns about the pending grand jury decision in the Eric Garner death. Gwen Carr, Garner's mother, says: "We don't know what the outcome is, but we're praying." 

Sharpton says, referring to the Brown case: "Can we show in New York something different. We're not going to have violence, but we want justice."

Tuesday, Dec. 2: Sources familiar with the grand jury proceedings tell NBC 4 New York a decision in the Garner case is imminent. The 23-member panel is made up of 14 white members and nine non-white members, at least five of whom are black, NBC 4 New York learns.

Officials say they're confident there won't be violent protests in New York City. De Blasio says: "In some places, people may feel the voice of the people are not heard. In this city, the voices are heard." 

Nevertheless, Bratton says the NYPD is prepared for protests in any case. D.A. Donovan says he realizes not everyone will accept the outcome, no matter what the grand jury votes.

Garner's mother Gwen Carr has said she "wouldn't want to see that violence" that swept Ferguson. 

Wednesday, Dec. 3: The Staten Island grand jury declines to indict Pantaleo in Garner's death, determining there was no probable cause that a crime was committed. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Twitter Reacts to Garner Decision


Moments after sources told NBC New York that a grand jury has declined to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner, people posted their reactions on social media. 

Within an hour, Eric Garner's name was the top trending term in Twitter in the U.S. and among the top 10 trending terms worldwide. 

Chris Rock tweeted "This one was on film" with a link to an image of a widely watched amateur video showing NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!" 

Garner had been stopped by police on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

New York Assemblyman Matthew J. Titone, who represents Staten Island, tweeted: "Right now we must keep Mr Garners family in our hearts & prayers and to remember their calls for calm & peace."

More reaction on social media: 

Photo Credit: AP
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Route 34 West Development Project Underway in New Haven


With a scoop of dirt and a toss of the shovel, the Route 34 West project officially got underway in New Haven Wednesday.

“It's always been our goal to reconnect the city. This used to be a vibrant neighborhood,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

Now, it's a parking lot, but this 5.5 acre block of land will soon be home to a mixed-use building filled with retail space and medical offices. The anchor tenant will be Continuum of Care, which is a non-profit that provides services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. It currently has two locations in New Haven that it's growing out of.

“Over the past ten years in particular, we've more than doubled the organization's size and the people that we service, so we desperately need this corporate office, or administrative office,” said Continuum President and CEO Patti Walker.

Continuum hopes the building will be done in 18 months, so that the organization can celebrate its 50th anniversary there.

The state of Connecticut is pitching in a $7.5 million grant for the project, particularly because of the work that Continuum does to help the state provide mental health services.

“It's an appropriate phase one because it's an agency that we care so deeply about that does such a great job helping over 1,500 individuals per year, placing upwards of 300 individuals per year. This is important work,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

However, the people who live in the area do have concerns about the overall project. The main concern is that the two main roadways, North Frontage Road and Legion Avenue, will still exist. They were hoping for smaller street to make this section more walkable. Mayor Harp says she's working with neighbors.

“There's still a huge site left from Boulevard coming up to this project that they will help us decide how we're going to utilize that,” said Mayor Toni Harp.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flood Risk Map Puts Damper on House Sales


The first selectman in Middlebury is bringing FEMA officials together with people who find themselves unable to sell their homes because of FEMA's flood risk map.

While some homes on Porter Avenue in Middlebury are high and dry, homes on the west side are in a special hazard flood zone.

Cathy Konnik can't even see the nearby Long Swamp Brook from her porch, but she says in FEMA's eyes she's as vulnerable to a flood as people who live along Long Island Sound.

"Right now we are the highest risk profile that exists," Konnik said.

She'd like to see FEMA change its flood zone map of Middlebury to reflect the absence of flooding and the town's flood control measures.

There are probably around ten families that live on this road that were here when that work was done.

She's lost not one, not two, but three prospective sales of her home to people when they found out they needed to buy flood insurance to get a mortgage. The last buyer backed out at closing, after she'd moved out. Konnik only found out she had to get flood insurance herself when she refinanced four years ago.

The initial payment for us was $400 a year. It has gone up every single year since and I now pay almost $2,000 a year for flood insurance for this home.

No floods, no insurance claims here in recent years but the only way to buy one of these houses without flood insurance is with straight cash.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pedestrian Struck By Car in Danbury


A car struck at least one pedestrian in Danbury Wednesday evening.

The accident happened near 385 Main Street.

There were minor injuries, but police did not say how many people were hurt.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Kin: Garner Death Modern Lynching


Eric Garner's family say they feel "anger" and "frustration" after a grand jury on Staten Island voted not to indict the police officer who placed Garner in a fatal chokehold. 

Garner's wife and his mother told NBC News Wednesday they were devastated but not altogether surprised by the grand jury's decision.

"I kind of expected it because I didn't really think that he would get a fair trial on Staten Island from day one," said Garner's wife, Esaw Garner. "I felt it in my heart that he just wasn't going to get a fair trial, with all the things that they were trying to crucify him with." 

"Regardless to his past, he didn't deserve to be killed like that," she said.

Esaw Garner and Gwen Carr, Garner's mother, said they thought the video showing Garner being taken down by NYPD officers was indisputable proof of wrongdoing. 

"There's no doubt in my mind or the mind of all the people out there in the world that what we saw in that video cannot be disputed," said Garner. "How they disputed it, I don't know." 

"It was a modern-day lynching," she said. 

Asked how she felt about NYPD officer Daniel Panataleo's statement offering his condolences to the family, Esaw Garner said she did not accept them. 

"The time for condolence would have been when my husband was gasping for air, asking them to let him breathe, begging for his life," she said. "That would have been the time to have some compassion and remorse and condolence."

Garner and Carr said they were hopeful a federal investigation would yield a different result. 

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Justice Department will now be conducting its own investigation into Garner's death.

At a news conference with the Garner family later in the evening, the Rev. Al Sharpton said the family will be helping to lead a national march in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 13. 

Esaw Garner said at the news conference, "I'm determined to get justice for my husband."

"Someone who gets paid to do right did wrong, and he's not held accountable for it," she said.

"My husband's death will not be in vain," she said. "As long as I have a breath in my body, I will fight the fight until the very end."

Paid Leave Extended for Hartford Firefighter Charged in Accidental Shooting


A Hartford firefighter accused of accidentally shooting a friend last month has been charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm and will remain on paid administrative leave throughout the court proceedings.

Hartford police said Justin Wood, 25, of East Hartford, accidentally shot 28-year-old Jose Medina, of Hartford, in the jaw and neck at an apartment on Webster Street shortly after midnight on Nov. 2 while he was with friends.

Medina was taken to Hartford Hospital and treated for his injuries.

Police said Wood was showing Medina a handgun when the weapon accidentally discharged. The weapon is legal and Wood is licensed to carry it, but his permit has been turned over to the state police firearms unit for evaluation, police said.

On Wednesday, detectives in the Hartford police major crime unit obtained an arrest warrant charging Wood with reckless endangerment in the second degree and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

He voluntarily turned himself in to police and the warrant was served without incident, according to police. Wood was released on a written promise to appear and is due in court on Dec. 12.

Hartford Fire Department spokesperson Capt. Helene Lynch said last month that Wood was placed on administrative leave for the duration of the police investigation. On Wednesday, the fire department said in a release that Wood "will remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of his court proceedings and due process."

Wood has been a member of Engine Company 5 on Sigourney Street since Dec. 2, 2012.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Apartments Could Be Coming Soon to Middletown Business District


A developer is looking to build apartments in Middletown in a lot near the intersection of Broad and College streets with the hope of bringing more business to town.

Developers from Hajjar Properties met at Middletown City Hall Wednesday afternoon with Mayor Daniel Drew and business boosters.

The developers want to build 89 apartments next door to the Middle Oak office tower. They hope people able to pay market rents of eleven and twelve hundred dollars a month will generate new business nearby.

"This is a paradigm shift for our downtown because it takes us to another level and it's gonna be bringing in a number of people with disposable income," Drew said.

City government officials still need to approve the plans and the city council will take a look at property tax abatement for seven years.

But if all goes as expected the developer told us the apartments could be ready in a year and a half.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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