This afternoon a New Haven jury handed down a multi-million dollar verdict against the town of East Haven for police misconduct when three officers allowed an intoxicated and hostile driver they had detained to access his commercial van and drive away, striking and seriously injuring a West Haven pedestrian.
East Haven police officer Jeffrey Strand, currently on permanent disability after working at the department for four years, violated a binding department policy when in November 2006 he drove a drunk and agitated man home, rather than arresting him and impounding his vehicle.
According to court documents, instead of following policy, the East Haven officers simply dropped the man at his home as he was a friend of other officers in the department. The drunken man, after being driven home, immediately returned to get his vehicle and drove away at a high speed, colliding with the plaintiff, Thomas Ventura, at a high rate of speed on Townsend Avenue in East Haven.
Ventura suffered a traumatic brain injury and several fractures and subsequently has required numerous surgeries.
"The responsibility of the East Haven police officers was to keep the public safe, not to curry favor with their intoxicated friends by putting them above the law," said Michael A. Stratton, attorney for Ventura.
Stratton estimated that damages may total more than $15 million.