New London — Four people, including a police officer, were taken to the hospital Tuesday afternoon after a car chase that began on Wall Street ended with the suspect crashing his car and being apprehended at gunpoint in front of the Family Dollar store on Ocean Avenue.
Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard said a "good-sized stash" of marijuana was seized after the crash, which occurred around 4:30 p.m. Officer Christopher Bunkley, the suspect, his passenger and the driver of the car that the suspect crashed into were all taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital for minor injuries, Reichard said.
Reichard said the pursuit began when an officer noticed the "thick scent of marijuana" emanating from the suspect's Toyota Camry. The officer attempted to pull the man over with lights and sirens, Reichard said, but the suspect, later identified as Damien Bartholomew, continued driving about 25 miles per hour.
The slow-speed chase continued as Baratholomew, 32, of 31 Blinman St., drove west on Bank Street and took a left on Lee Avenue. At the intersection of Lee and Ocean avenues, Reichard said, Baratholomew ran a red light and broadsided a Dodge Durango on the northbound lane. The Camry was totaled in the intersection with heavy front-end damage, but the Durango continued down Ocean about 70 feet, coming to rest on the southbound sidewalk between a utility pole and a stone wall in front of 67 Ocean Ave.
Bartholomew ran and hid in the bushes along 60 Ocean Ave., Reichard said, before continuing the chase on foot through the parking lot of Family Dollar. At that point, witnesses said the suspect stopped running after an apparent leg injury and was surrounded by three officers, who ordered him down on the ground at gunpoint.
"I heard the noises (of the crash) and two seconds later, the cops had guns drawn on him," said Guy Clements, who was inside his 41 Ocean Ave. home when the incident occurred. "They were telling him to lay down, lay down, and he wouldn't get on the ground."
An ambulance took the handcuffed Bartholomew to the hospital. Bartholomew's passenger, Larry D. Brinkley, 26, was also arrested and taken to the hospital. The female driver of the Durango was put in a neck brace and taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Reichard said the marijuana was prepackaged for street-level sales.
Brinkley, of 36 Branford Ave. Apt. 126, Groton, was charged with possession of narcotics and possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. Tuesday night, Brinkley was held in custody in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
Bartholomew was charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, possession of narcotics, evading responsibility, driving with a suspended license, failure to use a turn signal, reckless driving, engaging an officer in pursuit, stop light violation, interfering with an officer, assault on an officer, possession of marijuana and tampering with evidence. He's being held in lieu of a $150,000 bond.
Bartholomew was arrested by state police in Montville last month and faces narcotics charges there. He was convicted of narcotics possession in 2007.
Four ambulances from the New London, Oswegatchie and Jordan fire departments responded to the scene, as did several police officers and police administrators. The intersection was closed for several minutes until police started directing traffic through the wreckage.
Reichard said the department will review the entire incident to ensure it followed proper protocol.