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Hartford (AP) - A jury on Wednesday acquitted a former Windsor Locks police sergeant of charges that he hindered an investigation of a crash involving his son, in which a 15-year-old boy on a bicycle was struck and killed.
A Hartford Superior Court jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding Robert Koistinen not guilty of hindering prosecution. He testified in his own defense last week that he distanced himself from the case as soon as he learned that his son, who was also a police officer, was involved in the crash.
"He was innocent," juror Nancy Senatro of East Windsor told the Hartford Courant. "There was not any substantial evidence at all to convict this man."
Michael Koistinen is serving a five-year manslaughter sentence for the crash that killed bicyclist Henry Dang. Prosecutors said Michael Koistinen was intoxicated and speeding.
Two officers who responded to the accident testified they didn't see Robert Koistinen, the shift commander that night, interfere or take his son away from the scene.
The father and son were fired.
A state police investigation found that Robert Koistinen drove his son away from the crash site to the police station and back as many as three times, and later prevented an investigating officer from interviewing and getting a blood sample from Michael Koistinen while he was being treated at a hospital. Robert Koistinen insisted his son was not insulated from investigators.
An independent investigation found a series of problems with the way police responded to the accident, including officials' failure to question Michael Koistinen at the scene about possible alcohol consumption and their failure to test his blood-alcohol level. The report found no evidence of a cover-up, but faulted department officials for a lack of leadership and poor management.
Last year, Dang's family settled a wrongful death suit against Michael Koistinen and a former tavern owner for $420,000.