Murder suspect files suit against city police related to bicycle accident

New London — A bicyclist seriously injured when he was struck by a New London police cruiser in 2017 has filed suit against the city.

Christopher Petteway, 42, who is being held in prison on an unrelated murder charge, filed the suit earlier this month, claiming negligence on the part of New London police Officer Jeffrey Nichols. He is asking for damages in excess of $2,500.

The accident occurred on April 16, 2017, when Petteway was riding his bicycle on Hempstead Street, near the intersection with Thompson Court. Petteway claims in the suit that Nichols “suddenly and without warning drove his motor vehicle across the center line and into the path of (Petteway’s) bicycle, causing a collision...”

Police said at the time that Nichols was traveling north on Hempstead Street responding to a domestic dispute when the collision took place. Petteway was traveling south on his bike and the collision occurred in the northbound lane, police reported at the time.

Onlookers said Petteway was thrown over the windshield of the car. He was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and later flown by LifeStar helicopter to Yale New Haven Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Petteway claims he suffered a lacerated groin, multiple lacerations to his legs, arms, a fractured right thumb, dislocation of a bone in his left hand and a head injury. Petteway is represented by Hartford attorney Gerald M. Beaudoin, who did not return calls seeking comment.

It’s unclear who was at fault in the crash. An accident report was not immediately available and The Day has a pending request for reports in the case, which was investigated by state police.

City Attorney Jeffrey Londregan said the case has been referred to the city’s insurance carrier for defense.

“Based upon the City’s investigation of this matter and the facts as we know them, the City is confident that it and its police officer will be absolved of any liability,” Londregan said in an email. “We look forward to defending these claims in court.”

Petteway remains held in prison in lieu of a $2.05 million bond, accused in the fatal stabbing of his former partner, Robert Parise, in New London on Oct. 4, 2018.

A judge in January ruled Petteway was mentally competent to stand trial. During an evaluation, Petteway reported being treated for suicidal and homicidal thoughts, a history of depression and anxiety and abuse of drugs and alcohol. He also claimed to be traumatized by the crash involving the police cruiser.

Petteway also has a history of domestic abuse cases and had been incarcerated last year for attacking Parise, and allegedly told Parise he was going to kill him upon his release. Police said they obtained a confession from Petteway, in which he admitted stabbing Parise multiple times.

Petteway has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and violation of a protective order. He is due to appear April 29 in New London Superior Court as part of the pretrial process.

g.smith@theday.com

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