Police ID man shot by Ledyard officers in erratic driving incident

A rendering of the path of a chase that ended with two police officers shooting at a man who they said drove toward one of the officers in Ledyard Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Carlos Virgen/The Day)
A rendering of the path of a chase that ended with two police officers shooting at a man who they said drove toward one of the officers in Ledyard Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Carlos Virgen/The Day)

Ledyard — State police on Wednesday identified the man who was shot and critically wounded by Ledyard police after he allegedly led them on a chase and at one point drove his vehicle toward an officer Sunday night.

Francisco Hernandez, 35, of Hartford is the suspect in the incident. State police did not provide an update on Hernandez's condition, but a spokesman with Yale New Haven Hospital said he is listed in critical condition.

Police have said Hernandez was struck "at least once" by gunfire and drove into a tree. Police have not released the names of the involved officers, who they said fired "several rounds."

Officers rendered aid and called medical personnel. Crews then took Hernandez to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, but he later was transferred to Yale-New Haven.

The New London County state's attorney and the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad are investigating the shooting.

Under Ledyard's use-of-force policy, officers can shoot at or from a moving vehicle only "as the ultimate measure of self-defense" and/or "when a suspect is using deadly force from a vehicle by any means including the vehicle itself."

Police said Hernandez nearly struck a cruiser on Lantern Hill Road on Jan. 20 about 11:24 p.m., at which point the officer tried to pull the man over.

Police said Hernandez refused to stop, turned left onto Route 214, drove through the intersection with Spicer Hill Road — police had deployed stop sticks there — and turned left onto Route 117.

Police said Hernandez then turned right onto Reservoir View, pulled into the driveway of a home and into its backyard.

Hernandez continued "driving erratically" in the backyard, police said, at one point driving toward an officer who had gotten out of his vehicle, prompting two officers to fire their duty pistols.

Kim Kostenko, who lives next to Reservoir View on state Route 117, said Tuesday that she heard "a ton of sirens" late Sunday and was expecting the corresponding vehicles to stay on Route 117.

"But usually if they stop in front of the house, you can see the lights through my window, and I didn't," Kostenko said.

While Kostenko's bedroom is in the front of the 1805 Route 117 house, her sons' rear bedroom faces homes on Reservoir View.

"So I came in here and asked my boys, 'Do you guys know what's going on?'" Kostenko said. "They were like, 'Look out our window.'"

Kostenko said despite the bright moon — a rare lunar eclipse known as the super blood wolf moon happened Sunday night — it was hard to tell what was going on through the thin line of trees behind her home.

She learned from neighbors on Facebook that others were hearing and wondering about the same incident, including some who were out watching the eclipse.

Day Staff Writer Lindsay Boyle contributed to this report.

j.bergman@theday.com

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