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State Trooper Injured in I-95 Crash


A state trooper was taken to the hospital for minor injuries after a car struck his cruiser on Interstate 95 in Milford early Friday morning, according to State Police.

The crash happened near exit 41 northbound and had the highway closed for a short time.

The driver of the other vehicle stopped.

The trooper's name has not been released.

The accident is under investigation.

LA Cops in Skid Row Shooting ID'd


The names of the sergeant and two officers who fired their weapons in the March 1 Skid Row shooting that killed a homeless man were released on Thursday.

Sgt. Chand Syed, an eight-year veteran of the force; Officer Francisco Martinez, a 12-year veteran; and Officer Daniel Torres, who has six years on the force, fired their weapons, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed.

Before this incident, none of them had ever fired their weapons on duty.

A rookie officer, who did not fire his weapon, will not be named.

Police said the suspect, Carly Keunang, 43, tried to grab that officer’s holstered pistol.

Keunang’s identity has been unknown since it emerged that he came to the United States more than 15 years ago using the stolen identity of a French citizen.

He was known on Skid Row as "Africa."

Keunang was fatally shot by LAPD officers on Skid Row, in an incident caught on cellphone video that prompted community outrage.

Keunang was a Cameroon national, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He served 15 years in federal prison under his assumed name for bank robbery before being paroled in April 2013.

He was initially to be deported, but France rejected travel papers after he was found to have false documentation. Cameroon reportedly ignored requests for travel papers to that country.

Photo Credit: Toni Guinyard, KNBC-TV

Feds Probe Ex-Rep. Schock: AP


Friday was the day things went from bad to worse for Congressman Aaron Schock.

The Congressman, already under fire for globe-trotting vacations, documented on Instagram and often billed at taxpayer or campaign expense, abruptly resigned on Tuesday. And on Friday, federal subpoenas began going out, in what would appear to be a wide-ranging investigation of the Peoria Republican’s finances.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned that even former Schock staffers began receiving subpoenas to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in Springfield in April. And separately, the Federal Election Commission confirms it has received a complaint, asking for an investigation of the congressman’s campaign accounts.

Schock’s resignation blunted a pending inquiry by the House Ethics Committee, but his upcoming departure does not quell a potential criminal investigation. And a spokesman for the F.E.C. confirmed that enforcement matters there can continue even if a candidate or officeholder is no longer active, since political committees often continue in existence long after an official has left office.

Neither the congressman’s spokesman or his attorneys returned calls seeking comment.

Investigators are reportedly focusing on Schock’s House office expenditures and expenses, his campaign, and personal investments. The FBI would not formally comment on the investsigation. But the agency’s Springfield chief made clear that a probe is underway.

“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox. “When there are allegations of public corruption, it is our responsibility to look into those allegations.”

In resigning Tuesday, Schock cited a “heavy heart”, but that the constant questions about his spending and business dealings had become too much of a distraction. His departure was so sudden, the congressman did not even give the customary (and expected) notice to House leadership. Speaker John Boehner made no effort to rise to his defense.

“If somebody’s going to violate the rules, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”

Photo Credit: AP

Bus Driver Suspended After Crash Sends 9 Kids to Hospital


Nine students were taken to Stamford Hospital to be treated for minor injuries after a school bus hit the porch of a house on Vine Road in Stamford, according to officials at the scene.

Police said Friday evening that the bus driver, a 35-year-old Norwalk resident who works for the First Student bus company, was suspended following the collision.

According to police, the school bus was leaving the Turn of River Middle School for early dismissal with 42 students on board when it hit a pickup truck turning left onto Vine Road around 12:25 p.m.

The bus crossed over Vine Road and drove up a sidewalk, striking a utility pole and driving into the front porch of a home at 118 Vine Road, according to police.

Nine of the students on board were taken to Stamford Hospital for treatment. The other students were brought back to Turn of River Middle School. Police said most of the remaining students were picked up by parents, while others were driven home in school vans.

The students who did not go to the hospital were advised to see their own doctors as a precaution.

Police said the driver, who has been suspended by First Student and "temporarily disqualified" from driving Stamford students, reported a mechanical issue with the bus.

The state Department of Transportation will inspect the vehicle.

No charges have been filed.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to contact Stamford police Officer Jeffrey Booth or Officer Hugh Mullin at 203-977-4712.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Prison for Poison-Laced Pizza Death


A 49-year-old Bronx man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for lacing his children's pizza with rat poison after he discovered that his ex-wife was seeing another man.

Prosecutors say Leonardo Espinal was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty last month to the 2012 murder of his 5-year-old son and the attempted murder of his 7-year-old daughter.

Prosecutors say Espinal penned a suicide note and then fed his children the poisoned pizza. The daughter threw up and Espinal then locked himself and the little boy in the bathroom. When he refused to come out, Espinal's stepmother called 911.

Police knocked the door down and discovered Espinal dazed and the little boy dead in the tub from a combination of the poison and being submerged in water. 

Photo Credit: NBC10 - Dan Stamm

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Teens Find Body in School Pool


Students found a man's body in the swimming pool at Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose on Friday morning, shutting the campus down early because of the investigation.

The students found the body during their first-period swim class, and police got a call at 8:47 a.m., Officer Albert Morales said. He confirmed that the body did not belong to a student.

Homicide detectives were sent to the scene at 1377 Piedmont Road, but said it's too early to determine if foul play is suspected or not, Morales said.

Still, a source told NBC Bay Area the body was weighted down and was covered by the pool tarp when it was discovered, making the scene appear suspicious.

East Side Union High School District Supt. Chris Funk said school closed early at 11 a.m. because of the investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Man Robbed Outside New Haven Cemetery


Police are searching for two men who confronted a 22-year-old outside a cemetery in New Haven, held his hands over his head and grabbed his cash Thursday evening.

The victim told police he was walking home from work around 5:45 pm. March 19, wearing headphones and listening to music. Two men confronted him at the entrance to the Evergreen Cemetery off Ella Grasso Boulevard and robbed him, according to police.

Police said the victim wasn't hurt but was shaken up and was taken to the hospital.

Authorities are working to identify the suspects. One of the robbers is described as a thin, medium-complexioned man standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall. Police said he was wearing a black face mask, black hooded sweatshirt bearing the "Champion" logo, blue jeans and Nike "Uptown" sneakers.

The second suspect had a lighter complexion and average building. Police said he stood about 5 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark gray "Champion" sweatshirt, dark gray pants and Nike "Uptown" sneakers.

Anyone with information is urged to call New Haven police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

DCF Worker Fraudulently Collected $12K: State


A state Department of Children and Families employee has been arrested after fraudulently collecting nearly $12,000 in disability benefits, according to state officials.

The state Division of Criminal Justice said Michael J. Pacelia, 40, of Chester, collected $11,892 in workers' compensation after reporting an on-the-job injury in May 2014. Pacelia claimed he was unable to work, but surveillance video showed him doing yardwork and playing golf.

Pacelia is on administrative leave from DCF. He waas arrested Friday and charged withone count of fraudulent claim or receipt of benefits.

Pacelia was released on a written promise to appear and is due in court April 1. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Plea Agreement Reached in Hartford Kidnapping Case


The man who police said stole a car in Hartford with a baby inside in December 2012 reached a plea agreement and will serve seven years in prison, according to his public defender.

Devon Mills, 26, accepted a plea agreement on second-degree kidnapping charges and entered his plea under the Alford doctrine.  After serving his prison sentence, he will be on special parole for five years.

Luis Trinidad Jr., then 2 years old, was in the back seat of this father’s car when Mills stole it from on Main Street in Hartford, police said.

Mills has been charged withe drug possession in the past, according to information released in court.

Sources told NBC Connecticut that Mills and his friend stole the Cadillac to take it to the XL Center, where there was a Jingle Jam hiphop and R&B concert.

Mills' friend, at some point was taken to a local hospital because he had drugs in his system, the source said.

Police found the 4-door orange 2003 Cadillac CTS with CT shortly at 440 Asylum Street, near Bushnell Park, but the boy was not inside.

Mills, sources said, drove the stolen car from Hartford to Bristol and left the child with a friend.
Someone brought the little boy to Bristol police and he was reunited with his family.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

More Charges Filed in Glastonbury Golf Club Thefts


More charges have been filed against a suspect in the theft of high-end golf clubs from several homes in Glastonbury.

Police said Derek Benson, 29, of Glastonbury, and an accomplice are suspected of  stealing golf clubs from a garage in Glastonbury and police said they were linked to eight similar burglaries in town.

The person who stole the clubs appeared to be dressed for the country club, in a polo shirt, dark windbreaker, khaki pants and dress shoes, when he took golf clubs from six homes in the south and southeastern part of town, then left in a brick-red colored 2000 Acura and Lexus with stock wheels, police said when they first released a description of the burglar.

Police previously said Benson participated in the burglaries and then sold many of the stolen clubs at a golf outlet in Hartford.

He has been charged with third-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary in the third degree, third-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny in the third degree. 

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police

Chicago Detained by Police Sue


Three men have sued Chicago police over its controversial Homan Square facility, saying police took them there, handcuffed them to cell walls for hours, denied them access to lawyers and refused their requests for food, water and bathroom access.

Their federal civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday — which names three Chicago police officers, other unknown officers and the city as defendants — says police "blatantly violated" the plaintiffs' civil rights.

Police have not responded to the lawsuit, but a police spokesman last month denied similar allegations about the facility, saying that it was not off-the-books, that suspects were allowed access to their lawyers and that the building is considered sensitive because officers there are often working undercover.

In their lawsuit, John Vergara, Jose Garcia and Carlos Ruiz say armed, masked police officers seized them from a Chicago restaurant in 2011 and took them to what they call an "off the books detainment center" on the city's West Side.

"I felt as if I was kidnapped from this restaurant," said Vergara. "Nobody knew where we were, where we were taken — my family, friends, nobody."

"I was so afraid that I try to remember some things, but I prefer not to," Ruiz added. "For me, it was like going to hell."

Blake Horwitz, a lawyer for the three plaintiffs, said the men were chained to a bench for up to nine hours, despite numerous requests for attorneys.

"Four of the men had done nothing wrong at all. They were merely customers at a restaurant," he said.

The men said officers, some still masked, came in and interrogated them, threatening to charge them with a crime unless they gave officers information. 

"The officers say, 'We found these drugs, we are going to pin them on you unless you give us information,'" Horwitz said.

Horwitz said that his clients were told they couldn't report the incident after their release.

"I just think that we deserved due process. We just didn’t get that," Garcia said.

Horwitz said the tactics used by police paint a pattern at the Homan Square site. 

"It seems that there’s something particular about Homan Square where [suspects are] taken off the grid and that kind of thing," Horwitz said.

Chicago police said in a statement that "arrests and interview procedures are "matters of people's most basic rights, and CPD abides by all laws, rules and guideline pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses at Homan Square or any other CPD facility."

The Homan Square department has become a target in recent months following reports comparing the center to the terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

Last month, police denied allegations that suspects taken to the facility were beaten and denied access to their legal representation.

“If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them," police spokesman Martin Maloney said.

He refuted the suggestion that the facility was off-the-books, saying that there's always a record of anyone who is arrested by police officers.

He said the building is considered "sensitive" because officers who work there are often involved in undercover assignments. Other units housed at the facility include the Bureau of Organized Crime, SWAT Unit Evidence Technicians, and the CPD ballistics lab, he said.

"The allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false, it is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever," he said.

Earlier this month, about 200 people protested outside the building, calling for it to be shut down, after The Guardian reported on what it called an "off-the-books interrogation compound" and "the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site." 

Photo Credit: NBCChicago

Teen, 15, Faces Murder Charge


A 15-year-old boy surrendered to Philadelphia Police in the robbery and shooting death of a man who police say was targeted because he appeared old, police told NBC10. The boy was the third suspect sought in the deadly encounter.

Tyfine Hamilton's father helped negotiate the arrest, sources said. He is now being interviewed by homicide detectives at Philadelphia Police Headquarters in Center City.

Hamilton was wanted for the murder of 51-year-old James Patrick Stuhlman. Last Thursday, Stuhlman was walking his dog, Molly, along the 6400 block of Woodcrest Avenue in the Overbrook section of the city when he was approached by three teenage boys, police said.

Homicide investigators said the teens planned to rob the man after playing a game of basketball. They chose him, investigators said, because he looked old and his dog was "weak." Stuhlman pleaded for his life before he was shot once in the chest, police said. He died on the street with his dog at his side.

Hamilton's alleged co-conspirator, 15-year-old Brandon Smith, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder after police spotted him in Overbook, police said. A 14-year-old was also arrested and charged with robbery, as well.

Stuhlman was shot over nothing, police said, as not one item was taken from him.

Hamilton has not yet been charged in the case.

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police
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$20M for Wrongful Conviction


Juan Rivera, an Illinois man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit, will receive a $20 million settlement for his years behind bars, setting a new U.S. record for an individual case of wrongful conviction, his attorneys announced Friday.

The settlement equates to about a million dollars for each year he spent behind bars and brings Rivera's case to a close. 

"No amount of money could ever sum up to 20 years of prison," Rivera said. "I went through a living hell while I was prison so to say that $20 million is a wonderful thing, of course. You know, I could live more comfortable now, my family can, I can go to college, get my education the way I’ve always wanted, but I still would prefer my 20 years with my family than $20 million."

Rivera was convicted at the age of 19 in the rape and fatal stabbing of 11-year-old Holly Staker in 1992 and served almost 20 years of a life sentence at Stateville Prison in Joliet, Illinois.

Rivera's conviction was appealed three times, and each time a jury found him guilty

During his last trial, in 2009, advancements in technology allowed investigators to test DNA recovered from Staker's body. The genetic profile recovered from the fingerprints, hair and other evidence collected at the scene of the crime could not be traced back to Rivera, nor was it a complete match of any other profile already in the national database.

The majority of the case prosecutors built against Rivera revolved around a confession he signed. Though he admits to initially lying to investigators about where he was the night of the crime, Rivera argues the confession he signed after a four-day police interrogation was coerced.

In December, 2011 the 2nd District Appellate Court north of Chicago overturned the conviction saying the evidence against Rivera does not go beyond a reasonable doubt. He was released Jan. 6, 2012, a day he declared his new birthday.

"You hope that the $20 million is enough of a disincentive for behavior to change. That’s what you hope," said Rivera's attorney Locke Bowman. "You hope that people would rather investigate the case properly, they’d rather pursue appropriate procedures for interrogation, they’d rather handle the evidence the way it’s supposed to be handled than face these kinds of consequences."

Rivera, now 42, says he's not angry about what happened to him, but said he is resentful. 

"I’ve gotten threats, I’ve gotten different kind of looks so I live my life always looking behind back," he said. "There are others that still believe that I’m guilty, so I still live my life on pins and needles not knowing who to trust."

Attorneys announcing the settlement Friday said Staker's killer remains at large and may have been involved in other killings since Rivera's conviction. 

On Friday, Rivera said he hopes to use the money to go to college to study business management and accounting, to put his nieces through school and to help pay for his mother's medical bills. 

Man Guilty of Poaching Deer in NYC


A Staten Island man has pleaded guilty to illegally killing a deer in what may be New York City’s first-ever poaching case.

David G. Oakes was ordered to pay $3,000 in fines after entering guilty pleas to several charges including illegal taking of a deer without a license and trespassing.

Oakes was arrested by state environmental conservation officers at Schmul Playground, in the Travis-Chelsea neighborhood on the west side of the island, on Nov. 11.

He declined comment to NBC 4 New York on Friday.

The Staten Island Advance reports that the man was nabbed after officers caught him dressed in camouflage, carrying a bow. He allegedly set up cans and bait piles to lure the deer into his sights, and had no hunting license.

The man hadn’t actually killed a deer when he was arrested, the Advance reports, but told police he had taken down an eight-point buck in the same spot a year before.

Oakes’ conviction comes as the city’s least populous borough sees an explosion in poaching instances, the Advance reports. The paper reports that at least one poacher killed a deer with a shotgun, but most illegal hunters have used crossbows and composite bows.

Hunting is illegal on Staten Island and in New York City’s other four boroughs. Westchester and Suffolk counties permit deer hunting, but only with a bow.

Deer populations have risen exponentially on Staten Island in recent years. 

Photo Credit: AP

Connecticut Budget Hole Grows Deeper


Connecticut faces a significantly larger operating deficit than last month.

According to Benjamin Barnes, the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, current projections show the state in a $132.8 million hole at this point in the fiscal year, an increase of $71 million over the previous estimate.

Barnes handles budget matters for Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration. In a letter to Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Barnes said the change comes in light of a $63 million revenue revision and $8.6 million in updated deficits from state agencies.

He said fund transfers included in the governor's budget plan would reduce the shortfall by $37.3 million.

"We continue to work to address the remaining deficit through administrative actions, including heightened scrutiny of position refills and contract requests in order to ensure that year-end espenditures are limited to those that are critical for state operations," Barnes wrote.

State Senate minority leader Len Fasano called the increase "staggering and unacceptable."

"Connecticut certainly isn't springing forward when it comes to our state's finances. We're falling backward," he said in a statement Friday evening. "Bottom line, the governor is not paying attention and he is refusing to work on the problems Connecticut is facing. This leaves us with very few options, none of which are in the best interest of the state."

Free Italian Ice on First Day of Spring


Winter weather can't shake the celebration of spring, which residents are celebrating with free treats from Rita's Italian Ice.

Hundreds of people have passed through Rita's on New Britain Avenue for a free scoop that seems better suited to six months from now.

But as of 6:45 p.m. Friday, it's officially spring, and Rita's won't let a little snow shake a tradition 23 years strong.

"It's a little cold but the best things in life are free," said customer Sam Bolorin.

Rita's locations around the country, including 11 in Connecticut, are offering free Italian ice until 9 p.m. Find a store near you.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Reward Offered in Guilford Bank Robbery Case


The Connecticut Bankers Reward Association is offering $2,000 for information leading to the arrest of the masked man who ripped off a Guilford bank on Friday afternoon.

Police said a man wearing dark clothing and a knit cap fashioned into a face mask entered the Webster Bank at 1069 Boston Post Road just before 4 p.m. Friday and demanded money.

He left with an undisclosed amount of cash and ran westbound toward the back of the building. Police said the whole thing took less than three minutes.

Police described the robber as a dark-skinned man standing between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall. He was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt marked with the "Champion" logo and tan pants.

No one was hurt during the robbery.

Anyone with information is urged to call Guilford police at 203-453-8060.

Photo Credit: flickr/401(K) 2013

Car Lands Upside Down in West Haven Front Yard


A West Haven resident had the scare of his life this morning when a car landed on its roof in his front yard and police have arrested the man accused of causing that scare with reckless driving, leaving the scene and drug possession.

“I woke up to a bang,” John Washington said.

When he walked outside the front door of his home on West Spring Street, he saw what caused that bang. A car was flipped upside down in his flower bed.

Lydia Poulin, who lives next door, said the driver knocked down her mailbox before landing in Washington’s front yard.

“He wasn’t driving down the street. He was flying sideways,” Poulin said.

After the crash, two people got out of the car and start running through the nearby forest, she said.

Police received the report of a one-car rollover at 10:30 a.m., then they received reports that the two males who had been in the car were running through Polish American Club near Interstate 95., so West Haven Police, State Police and a Milford K-9 unit all began searching for them in a wooded area along the highway. 

Police found the male passenger and he was brought to an area hospital to be treated for minor injuries. No charges were filed against him. 

Police did file charges against Mark Mcgilton, 50, or West Haven. He was charged with evading responsibility, reckless driving, having no insurance, possession of drug paraphernalia and interfering with police. 

He was also wanted on two outstanding arrest warrants, police said.

Pete Shaw, whose mailbox was taken out during the crash, said he heard a loud noise and walked outside to see the car in his neighbor's yard.

“We don’t get no action like this on this street,” Shaw said.

Poulin said if the crash had happened at a different time of day, the outcome could have been worse.

“The school buses go by here down the streets. The kids walk on the street. There’s no sidewalks for them to walk on. They could have been killed,” Poulin said.

Photo Credit: Tara Belton
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