Man charged with driving away from traffic stop in East Lyme

James P. Charland
James P. Charland

East Lyme — A Colchester man is facing charges after he allegedly stopped his red pickup truck for police but then drove off, taking his three minor passengers with him.

James P. Charland, 48, was charged Saturday with three counts of risk of injury to a minor, first-degree criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, two counts of third-degree criminal mischief and disobeying the signal of an officer.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the incident tracks back to July 28, when Charland showed up at 11 Grand St. in Niantic to see his estranged wife and stepdaughter. Police, on the advice of Charland’s stepdaughter, responded to the apartment and told Charland he wasn’t welcome and should not come back.

On July 31, the affidavit states, officers again were called to the residence, this time because firefighters from the nearby Niantic Fire Station heard yelling emanating from the home.

Police learned before they arrived that the man involved in the argument had left the scene in a red pickup with an American flag mounted in its bed, according to the affidavit.

Two officers went to search for the pickup and quickly found it driving north on Flanders Road near Oak Hill Drive. Two others interviewed the estranged wife.

According to the affidavit, the wife said Charland had been visiting with their two sons and a grandson when he accused her of cheating on him. He then threw a cabinet on the floor and broke a window screen before leaving with the boys, the affidavit states.

Police said the man driving the pickup didn't stop for officers until he reached the Niantic Motel at 256 Flanders Road. There, officers parked one cruiser behind his truck and one in front.

When one officer got out of his cruiser with his gun drawn, the affidavit states, the man later identified as Charland slowly reversed — he didn't hit the cruiser behind him — before putting the truck into 'drive' and navigating away from the scene.

Police, aware of the minors in the truck, did not follow.

According to police, Charland came to the department the following day and told them he went to 11 Grand St. to pick up his children, not to bring them for a visit. He acknowledged that he damaged property at the Grand Street apartment, police said.

Police said Charland was pulled over in Hartford on Saturday for an unrelated vehicle violation. He was turned over to East Lyme police once it became clear they had a warrant for Charland’s arrest.

Charland, arraigned on Monday and released on a $10,000 bond, is next due Oct. 30 in New London Superior Court.

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