UPDATED: Suspect shot by NL police is in critical condition
New London — State police identified the man who was shot Wednesday by city police as 27-year-old Curtis Cunningham of New Haven.
The New London officer involved is Officer Thomas Northup, according to state police. Northup is a 3½-year veteran of the department and will be temporarily assigned to administrative duty pending the completion of the investigation, state police said.
Cunningham was listed in critical condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital Thursday afternoon.
Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said Cunningham underwent surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital Wednesday night; he was first brought to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London before being airlifted to Yale.
Cunningham was shot by city police after allegedly stealing a truck from a liquor store at 207 Montauk Ave. and taking off around 4:30 p.m. The truck tipped over onto its side at the corner of Bank and Jefferson streets, at which point witnesses said they heard police ordering the man to drop his gun before opening fire.
Police have not recovered a gun from the scene, according to Vance.
Vance said police broadcast a report about the stolen truck to all New London officers. An officer who was taking a complaint from a citizen at the CVS Pharmacy spotted the truck as it made an abrupt left turn onto Jefferson Avenue and radioed in to dispatch that the truck had crashed.
When officers approached, Cunningham was standing up in the cab of the truck. Police ordered Cunningham to show his hands, Vance said, and Cunningham failed to comply. Cunningham then made an "overt movement," Vance said, at which point officers fired.
The refrigerated truck, owned by Norwalk-based Crystal Ice, was stolen from outside the liquor store at the corner of Montauk and Willetts avenues, according to one of the store's owners.
"I heard a crash," said Gary Nelson, who was near Sam's Food Stores at the intersection of Bank Street and Ocean Avenue at the time of the incident. "The cops opened fire … and then continued to scream 'Show me your hands!' and then blew up like three or four more rounds."
One officer climbed on to the cab door of the overturned truck and a second officer shot at the driver through the windshield. Witnesses said they heard police yell multiple times for the driver to drop his gun before they heard several shots fired.
The state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad is in charge of the investigation.
Segar confirmed that one police officer was involved in the shooting but would not say how many shots were fired. No officers were injured, he said.
New London police Chief Margaret Ackley, who was at a special City Council meeting Wednesday night, declined to comment.
"One thing at a time," Ackley said. "When I'm done here, I'll go there."
The owner of the Montauk Avenue Liquor Store said the Crystal Ice delivery man came in to ask how much ice the store needed. He immediately went back outside and found the truck missing.
"He left it running," the owner, who asked not to be named, said. "It only took 15 seconds."
On Wednesday afternoon, New London and state police cordoned off Bank Street between Montauk and Ocean avenues, a busy intersection that has a mix of retail stores and residential homes.
Richard Henry said he was riding his bicycle on Bank Street near Ocean Avenue with his cousins running alongside him when he heard a bang. The children ran up the street and saw a truck lying on its side, blocking the Jefferson Avenue sidewalk.
"The cops were screaming to 'put your hands up,''' Henry said.
Christina Zaman, who lives in the neighborhood, said her 8-year-old son came running into the house when the shooting occurred and said, "Mommy, tell me you heard gunshots.''
"This is crazy,'' Zaman said. "I have nine kids, and they're always out here playing."
The New London Police Department's Use of Force policy states that officers "will only use force which is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, to effect an arrest, and to protect officers and others."
All officers receive annual in-service training on the policy, including classroom and practical training.
Officers are prohibited from firing warning shots and are not supposed to use an "electronic defense weapon," such as a Taser, when the subject is holding a firearm.
The last shooting involving city police was May 28, when three officers shot an armed man on Ocean Avenue. The man recovered.
Day staff writers Sasha Goldstein and Julianne Hanckel contributed to this report.
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