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Gov. Clarifying DA Status in Hernandez Case


When Charlie Baker took office on Jan. 8, he did what many new governor's before him have done by immediately moving to rescind appointments made in the final two weeks by outgoing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

"Governor Baker acted to rescind 'any and all' recent appointments, effectively freezing the process to find out who was appointed to what to ensure that only the most qualified people were appointed," Baker Communications Director Tim Buckley said.

However, Buckley says Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn was never intended to be part of that group, referring to Quinn as the acting D.A., a term that Governor Patrick used in his letter to Quinn appointing him on Jan. 2.

"The Baker folks keep saying, well, he's acting. But there is no such thing as acting D.A. He is the D.A. unless someone replaces him," Secretary of State William Galvin said.

This might have all played out under the radar screen if the Bristol County District Attorney didn't oversee the high profile Aaron Hernandez murder trial, calling into question whether Quinn could soon be operating under questionable legal status.

It's a charge the District Attorney's office refutes.

Galvin explained that the distinction matters because Quinn's role is to appoint the prosecution team, which Galvin said means "any decisions made in the trial were his, potentially."

Quinn's office says the trial will not be affected by any of this, a point on which several legal experts agreed.

"My focus has been and will continue to be solely on the important day-to-day work at the Bristol County District Attorney's Office. As I have said all along, the decision is Gov. Baker's to make and I fully respect that fact," Quinn said in a statement.

According to Secretary of State Galvin, Charlie Baker now has until Friday to decide whether or not to make Thomas Quinn permanent, or replace him with an appointment of his choice.

Buckley said the decision will be made "soon."

"You know, I think it's much ado about nothing," he said.

Galvin disagrees.

"I wouldn't say it is much ado about nothing. What it is is a misunderstanding," he said.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images

Fake Cop Rapes Woman in Craigslist Ad, Flees in Benz: NYPD


Police are looking for a man who they say received a massage from a woman at a Brooklyn motel, told her he was a cop and then raped her.

Police say the man raped the 25-year-old woman at the Linden Motor Inn on South Conduit Boulevard in Cypress Hills on Oct. 24. 

They say the man met the woman at the hotel after responding to a Craigslist ad for a 30-minute massage. After receiving the massage, the man told the woman he was a police officer and flashed a blue and gold badge that said "FDA" before raping her.

After raping the woman, the man took her cellphone and an undetermined amount of cash, police said. He left the scene in a black Mercedez-Benz sedan.

On Wednesday, police released surveillance footage walking near the hotel (above).

Anyone with information on the man is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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Tolls on the Table in Connecticut General Assembly


The five-letter word that hasn't reared its head in Connecticut in decades could be making a comeback: tolls.

The state's neighbors to the north and southwest have made billions off of tolls, and Connecticut could become the next state to start charging drivers to use state roads.

“Border tolls would raise a substantial amount of money for this state," said Tony Guerrera, who chairs the Transportation Committee.

Guerrera said he wants to see the state monetize out-of-state drivers who enter and exit the state. In light of the state's need for vast public transit improvements and the governor's call for a transportation overhaul, Guerrera said tolls are the logical next step to explore.

“Our gas tax isn’t going to cut it anymore," he said.

Guerrera added that any approved toll plan must include either a reduction in the state's 25-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

"The two go hand in hand," he said.

But members of the General Assembly who live along the borders allege any plan that targets those regions doesn't make sense to them.

"It's a Band-Aid," said Rep. David Alexander, who represents Enfield.

Guerrera said he estimated that tolls could range in cost for drivers from $3 to $7.

Alexander contends that his constituents would be unfairly targeted.

“It’s not fair to ask my residents who travel three or four miles who go out to eat on a Friday night in the Springfield area to pay a toll when someone in Rocky Hill could go seven or eight miles and not pay a toll," Alexander explained.

Nothing has been approved by committees or the General Assembly, but Guerrera said he expected to see a public hearing on the proposal in the near future.

"We'll have a better idea of costs and what everything may look like once we hear from the experts," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Crews Respond to Crash in Litchfield


Emergency crews are responding to Goslee Road in Litchfield for a crash.

Crews are arriving at the scene and no additional information was immediately available.

It’s not yet clear how bad the crash is or how many people were involved.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Crews Respond to Report of Pedestrian Hit in Torrington


Emergency crews are responding to the report that a pedestrian has been struck by a car in the area of 1935 East Main Street in Torrington, according to dispatchers.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Water Main Break Cuts Service to Bristol Homes


Crews have begun digging to access a broken water main on Main Street in Bristol, cutting water service to homes in the area.

The Bristol Water Department said crews planned to turn off water to homes on Main Street between High and Center streets around 8 p.m., after the public library had closed for the night. It's not clear how many houses have been affected.

Officials said repairs will take between six and eight hours to complete. Main Street is closed between Center Street and Sessions Street.

Check back for updates.

Construction Worker Hurt When Excavator Tips in Meriden


A construction worker was hospitalized with a head injury after the excavator he or she was driving flipped into a ditch in Meriden, according to the fire department.

Fire crews responded to the scene at 25 Columbus Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. The condition of the injured worker is unclear.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Meriden Fire Department

Barry's Son Threatened Teller: Cops


Christopher Barry, the son of late Mayor Marion Barry, is accused of threatening a bank employee who told him his account was overdrawn and of hurling a trash can in a Tuesday outburst.

Barry, who is a candidate to replace his father on the D.C. Council, is being investigated by police over the alleged threat. He has not been arrested.

Multiple sources familiar with the incident said Barry entered a PNC Bank on 7th Street NW Tuesday and got into an argument with bank staff.

He tried to make a large cash withdrawal, but a bank employee told him that it was too much money and that his account was overdrawn, according to court documents.

"You always give me a hard time," Barry is accused of telling the employee, according to court documents. "I'm going to have somebody waiting for you when you get off work, you [expletive]."

According to the documents, Barry then threw a trash can over the security glass, striking and breaking a security camera valued at $1,000.

Barry, 34, has a history of brushes with law enforcement. He pleaded guilty in July 2011 to charges of possession of marijuana and PCP, and he was charged with driving under the influence in 2013.

On Jan. 5, Barry filed papers for the special election to fill his father's Council seat to represent Ward 8. The elder Barry died in November at age 78.

News4 has reached out to Christopher Barry and his campaign for comment. They have not returned the calls.

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Local Chipotle Restaurants Are Not Serving Pork


Don't plan on a pork carnitas from Chipotle in the near future.

The chain is not serving pork at a third of its U.S. restaurants after an audit found a supplier was not complying with the company's animal-welfare standards.

That is having an impact on lunch and dinner choices here in Connecticut. An employee of a local Chipotle said the restaurants down the east coast are not selling carnitas.

“Our pork comes from pigs that are raised with access to the outdoors or in deeply bedded barns, and without the use of antibiotics,” communications director Chris Arnold said in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday. “With a supplier suspended, we do not have enough pork for all of our restaurants.”

He said Chipotle chose not to serve pork in some of its restaurants instead of compromising its “protocol" by selling meat that “falls well short of our animal welfare standards."

Arnold said in an e-mail that Connecticut restaurants are not affected, but NBC Connecticut spoke with a few local restaurants that said they are not selling carnitas,including one that said Chipotle locations along the whole east coast are affected.

There are Chipotle locations in Canton, Danbury, Darien, Enfield, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hamden, Manchester, Milford, New Haven, Newington and West Hartford,

Photo Credit: AP

Crook Steals Copper From Manchester Church


Manchester police are searching for the person who stole copper from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Park Street around Christmas.

According to police, the crook climbed on up on the church roof multiple times, pilfering from copper flashing and downspouts.

“Apparently it was a crime of opportunity,” explained Manchester police Capt. Christopher Davis. “He saw there was value in the materials.”

According to Rev. Paul Briggs, the absence of such items allowed a wave or water to pour from the ceiling during one of the church services. Although the service continued, members of the congregation had to grab buckets and mops to clean the mess.

“It was like someone turned a hose on,” said Briggs.

In the week that followed, Manchester police were able to track down some of the copper at an East Hartford scrap metal dealer. Through receipts, they learned the thief made off with metal valued at $1,200.

“It is a very big headache and a costly one,” said Davis. “These are all custom made downspouts and flashing; this isn’t something you can just go to Home Depot and buy off the rack.”

This coming Sunday, St. Mary’s will be asking its congregation to consider an extra contribution to help defray the cost of the insurance deductible. While they now have to consider things like extra security, it seems Briggs is also concerned about the well being of person responsible.

“I am really sorry that they felt they needed to do that and as I’ve said to folks we are here for them. I wish we could connect in some way,” said Briggs.

Police do believe they have an idea of who they are looking for. Police said they have identified a local man as a person of interest and hope to make an arrest soon.

“I’m certainly willing to offer forgiveness, if they have something they need to be forgiven,” said Briggs.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bridgeport Officer Found Not Guilty in Police Brutality Case


A Bridgeport officer was acquitted of police brutality charges Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office.

Officer Clive Higgins had been charged with violating the civil rights of suspect Orlando Lopez-Soto in 2011, after video surfaced showing officers using a stun gun on Lopez-Soto, then kicking and stomping him as he lay motionless.

A federal jury found Higgins not guilty. A conviction would have sent him to prison for as many as 10 years.

"We respect the jury's verdict and the criminal justice process," Tom Carson, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office, said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Our office will continue to prioritize civil rights investigations. We thank the FBI and the prosecutors for their hard work on this case."

Higgins was one of three Bridgeport officers at the center of an internal investigation after an officer was shown on video using a stun gun on Lopez-Soto during an arrest at Beardsley Park in 2011.

The video shows Lopez-Soto lying on the ground motionless as two officer kicked and stomped on him. The footage was upload to YouTube two years later and quickly went viral.

Two of the three officers captured in the video pleaded guilty in June to depriving Lopez-Soto of his civil rights. Higgins pleaded not guilty. His name was cleared Wednesday in federal court.

Meanwhile, Lopez-Soto is serving five years in prison after pleading guilty to drug and gun-related charges in 2012.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Proposal Would Allow for Sale of Tesla Cars


Connecticut lawmakers will consider passing a law allowing for the sale of Tesla Motors cars in the state during the current session of the General Assembly.

Tesla does not sell cars like other automotive manufacturers through traditional dealerships. Instead, the car manufacturer maintains owned-and-operated retailers in 22 states, selling directly to customers. Twenty-six states have outright bans on direct car sales.

"It's a new way of doing business," explained state Sen. Art Linares, of Westbrook, who is proposing the measure and recently purchased a Tesla himself.

"If somebody wants to buy a Tesla, they’re going to buy a Tesla, and right now that’s what’s happening, but they’re going to New York to do it,” Linares added.

New York and Massachusetts allow for the sales of Tesla automobiles.

Connecticut has 270 new car dealers, and the association is on the record against direct sales of the cars from Tesla.

Jim Fleming represents the dealers and their 15,000 employees through the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association.

"They make a great product," Fleming said, of Tesla Motors. “We would love to see them sold in Connecticut through the franchise system under all of the same rules all of the other dealers have followed.”

Fleming cited serious issues associated with car shoppers buying directly from manufacturers, which has never been done before.

"I think it puts them at risk, which is why we have franchise laws in Connecticut, and I think it will be anti-competitive,” Fleming said.

Tesla cars are all electric and are powered by numerous lithium-ion batteries on their undercarriages.

Telsa models have zero emissions, and the company has installed charging stations all over the country, including along Interstates 95 and 84 in Connecticut.

There is a Tesla service center in Milford and a showroom in Niantic, but purchases cannot be made at either location. According to the company, 500 Tesla cars are driving around Connecticut.

Richard Jordan purchased his Tesla S in March 2014.

"I love the acceleration, not having to stop at a gas station ever again and just how smooth it rides,” he said.

Jordan called the company directly and a representative filled out an online order form.

“Dealing with Tesla has been easy as ordering anything," Jordan said. "If you order anything from Amazon, it’s that easy.”

He said for his next Tesla, he would love the opportunity to purchase one in the state where he actually lives.

"It would make things much easier," Jordan said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ground Cumin Recalled Over Possible Peanut Traces


La Flor brand ground cumin has been recalled over possible peanut traces, and Stop & Shop supermarkets are pulling the item from their shelves.

A news release from Stop & Shop says the product is safe for everyone who does not have a peanut allergy.

According to the supermarket chain, the recall affects 20-ounce La Flor Ground Cumin, UPC 7763601450, with a lot code of RLF800 and an expiration date of 5/13/18 or 7/14/18 stamped on the bottle.

Stop & Shop has not received any reports of illnesses linked to the product, but the chain is urging customers who bought the cumin in question to throw it out and bring their receipts to the store for a full refund.

Additional information is available by calling La Flor Products at 631-851-9601 or calling the Stop & Shop customer service line at 800-767-7772.

Correction Officer Charged in Deadly Hit-and-Run


A Bridgeport correction officer is facing manslaughter charges in the hit-and-run crash that killed a mom and injured her 11-year-old son in Bridgeport last month.

Police arrested Patricia Daniels, 46, of Bridgeport, on Wednesday and charged her with second-degree manslaughter, risk of injury to a minor and evading responsibility.

A spokesperson for the Department of Correction said Daniels has served as a correction officer with the Bridgeport Correctional Center since 1998 and will be placed on administrative leave in light of her arrest.

"We don't know why it happened. We don't know why she did that," said Agyei's husband, Jonathan Agyei. "We don't have no hatred for her, but we only need justice."

Police tracked down Daniels' white BMW X3 SUV in December and linked it to the crash that killed 51-year-old Evelyn Agyei, a mother of three, and injured her 11-year-old son in early December.

Surveillance footage shows the BMW striking Agyei's Subaru several times, forcing her car off the road and into a tree, and Agyei's son told investigators the car "rammed" their vehicle repeatedly, according to police.

Police said Daniels admitted to driving on Boston Avenue the morning of the crash and told investigators she checked herself into Saint Vincent's Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation.

Daniels lives less than half a mile from the scene. A relative leaving her home Wednesday evening declined to comment and said Daniels would not comment on the case.

"All I want to say to her is when she faces a judge, she should come out with the truth," Jonathan Agyei said.

She's being held on $150,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department
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29-Year-Old Charged With Sexually Assaulting Teen


Police have arrested a New York man accused of sexually assaulting and giving drugs to a 14-year-old in Southington.

Mina Attalla, 29, of Babylon, New York, turned himself in to police on Jan. 13. Police said he has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to/impairing the morals of a minor.

According to the warrant for his arrest, Attalla had sexual intercourse with the teen in November and provided the victim with illegal drugs, police said.

Attalla was released from custody after posting $200,000 bond. He's due in court Feb. 2.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police Department

Fla. Cops Don't Have to Get Tasered


Miami Beach police officers will no longer be required to be shocked by a Taser in order to carry one on patrol.

Chief Daniel Oates told the department in an email Wednesday that he had learned that morning of the "long-standing practice" that officers must be shocked with the weapon in training to carry one on patrol.

"I don’t agree with this rule. I have been shocked by the Taser, and it is extremely unpleasant," Oates wrote. "I don’t believe an officer needs to go through that experience in order to be well trained in how to use the weapon."

Oates, who was named Miami Beach's police chief last June, said any officer who wants to volunteer to experience the Taser can still do so.

The use of the Taser among Miami Beach police caused controversy in August 2013 after graffiti artist Israel "Reefa" Hernandez died after being shocked with one of the weapons.

Police said Hernandez ran after they spotted him spray-painting the wall of a fast-food restaurant and he ignored their orders to stop and was shocked once with the Taser in the chest. He later died at a hospital.

Hernandez's family have demanded the arrest of the officer involved.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Crews Respond to Winsted Fire


Firefighters from Winsted, New Hartford and Pleasant Valley responded to Oak Street in Winsted after flames broke out at a home there Wednesday evening.

Emergency dispatchers said the fire at 40 Oak Street was reported shortly before 8 p.m.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Rushdie: Free Speech Is Inviolate


In a visit to the University of Vermont, novelist Salman Rushdie defended freedom of speech as something that should have no limits placed on it. The comments came in the wake of last week's attack on a Paris satire journal that left 12 dead.

"The moment you limit free speech, it's not free speech," Rushdie told the crowd at an event presented by the Vermont Humanities Council and UVM. "The point about it is it's free."

Rushdie, whose 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats after Iranian religious leaders labeled it blasphemous, told the crowd it is the job of artists to push boundaries and challenge institutions that don't want to hear what writers, painters, performers, illustrators, or others have to say.

In the wake of the attack on the satire journal Charlie Hebdo, there have been debates in Europe over whether free speech has limits, especially when dealing with sensitive religious topics. Known for its blistering criticism of many varied institutions, Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims would consider provocative, sacrilegious, or distasteful. The extremists behind the massacre that killed 12 reportedly were trying to avenge Muhammad.

Rushdie called it "disgraceful" for anyone to imply the satirists killed in last week's terror attack in Paris were racist or went too far for exercising their freedom of speech.

The author said there should be no conditions placed on free speech; anyone who does, he referred to as the “but brigade.” "The minute I hear someone say, 'Yes, I believe in free speech, but...' I stop listening," Rushdie said, drawing a round of applause.

Rushdie noted that people, of course, may be opposed to the content of Charlie Hebdo or other boundary-pushing creative efforts. "You can dislike Charlie Hebdo. Not all their drawings were funny," the writer said. "The fact that you dislike them has got nothing to do with their right to speak. The fact you dislike them certainly doesn't in any way excuse their murder."

During the Burlington event, Rushdie did not speak in any detail of the time he spent with death threats hanging over his head. He did say there is a long history of writers and other thinkers who have been targeted for their work, but whose work ended up standing up to the test of time.

There was a police presence at Rushdie's presentation, which had been scheduled well before the attack in Paris. Security personnel were also checking bags as people entered the Ira Allen Chapel on the UVM campus. A university spokesman told New England Cable News such measures are routine for high-profile speakers at the University of Vermont.

Photo Credit: Jack Thurston/NECN

Man Tried to Save DC Metro Victim


The family of a 61-year-old Alexandria woman who was killed in a smoky Metro tunnel earlier this week is eternally grateful to a man who tried to save her life.

Dozens of people were trapped for more than 40 minutes as smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station tunnel just before rush hour Monday. Video from those aboard shows passengers coughing and lying on the ground, searching for fresh air. 

One of those riders was Carol Inman Glover, who had slumped to the floor unconscious. Fellow passenger Jonathan Rogers, 31, and two other passengers tried in vain for 20 minutes to revive Glover.

"We know you do chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth, so that's what we did," Rogers said. "Nothing was happening, and she was laying there unconscious. Somebody took her pulse and said they couldn't feel a pulse."

Rogers said a man scooped the woman up in his arms and carried her through the cars toward the back of the train.

"I can't tell you how that does so much for me to have had him be there for her and do what he did. It restores my faith in humanity. It really does," Glover's brother Tracy Inman said.

Before his sister's death, Jan. 12 was already a tragic day for Inman and Glover: Their father died that day 33 years prior, in 1982, of smoke inhalation in a D.C. house fire.

Carol Glover was a mother of two sons and a grandmother to three. She had worked at DKW Communications Inc. in downtown D.C. for the past 18 months, commuting on Metro daily. She grew up in Northeast D.C. with two brothers and a sister.

"When I saw it on the news, I spoke out, and there was some compassion that came over me. And I didn't know who the person was, and I said, 'Wow, someone's family member will not be coming home to them tonight," Glover's sister Donna Perry said.

Glover's mother told News4 her daughter suffered from asthma, but always carried her inhaler. She's adamant Glover's death had nothing to do with the asthma. 

"The smoke [killed her]," Corrine Inman said, adding she believes her daughter's death will lead to safety improvements for Metro. "[Carol's] purpose was to make a change somewhere in somebody else's life. This is the change. Change is coming."

911 Operator Gave Wrong Advice


An internal investigation has been launched after a San Diego Fire-Rescue dispatcher gave the wrong advice after a man was fatally struck by a motorcycle.

Moments after the man's leg had been severed in the crash, a dispatcher told witnesses to remove a belt that had been put on his leg as a tourniquet — a direction that goes against department policy, according to the agency's medical director.

The 49-year-old victim, who has not yet been identified, was standing in the middle of Palm Avenue Monday when he was struck by a motorcycle.

He had multiple serious wounds, including one leg severed below the knee. A witness to the crash used a belt to create a tourniquet.

Anthony Rabaya did exactly what most of us would hope to in an emergency: keep a cool head and make good decisions.

“I just tried. I didn't think about it. I just reacted,” Rabaya said.

His military training and instinct told him to get the bleeding stopped, but a Fire Rescue dispatcher told him otherwise.

In the 911 recording, a dispatcher can be heard telling the people helping the victim to take off the belt.

Caller: "My boyfriend put a belt around his leg because it's bleeding."
Dispatcher: "OK, all right, so they put a tourniquet on his leg?"
Caller: "Uh, no... uh, a belt. We've got the belt around because his leg is chopped off."
Dispatcher: "OK, we need to take that belt off. We don't want to tourniquet it."
Caller (talking to boyfriend): "Take the belt off, she says. Take it off."

“I didn't agree with taking the tourniquet off. Come on, it's an amputation,” Rabaya said.

City of San Diego EMS Medical Director Dr. Jim Dunford said it's the first such mistake he's heard of in 25 years.

“That does in fact run contrary to the way we teach our dispatchers to handle something like that,”  Dunford said.

His policy has been in place for the last two years. “Leave [the tourniquet] alone until a firefighter can get there and determine whether it should continue to be there,”  Dunford said.

Dunford said responding firefighters reapplied the tourniquet when they arrived. At that time, the victim was still alive.

“I would be very surprised this brief interval of two or three minutes was responsible for the person's passing,” Dunford said.

Thousands of times a day, 911 operators provide the voice of reason in emergencies, but when they're wrong, who else is there to call?

Dunford says he hasn't spoken with the dispatcher to determine how or why she made that
decision, but she will remain on duty while the incident is investigated.

All dispatchers will be reminded during in-service training about the tourniquet policy.

On Tuesday, San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar said his department is reviewing the case.

"The Fire Dispatch Center handles 125,000 calls a year. As the Fire Chief, I have confidence in the ability of our dispatchers to handle emergencies efficiently, professionally and appropriately and I want the public to be assured you can have that same confidence," Mainar said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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