He Had A Hunch—& A Ruse Or Two

Paul Bass PhotoDown the block, a driver stopped short when he saw Juan Ingles’ cop car. Ingles couldn’t see the driver well; the driver couldn’t see him. Fatefully, each guessed the other’s thoughts and plotted their next moves.

Ingles (pictured above during an interview Thursday), a Fair Haven beat cop, had stopped by Poplar Street near Clay to drop off a tow slip for a fellow officer who had run out of them while on a motor vehicle detail.

It was a little after 6 p.m. when Ingles returned to his car after handing the cop the slip. He noticed the two-door grey Nissan Sentra turning left onto Poplar from Grand Avenue. Then he noticed the Sentra’s driver slam the brakes.

“That,” Ingles recalled “was suspicious to me.”

Ingles knew the driver faced a dilemma. He didn’t want to drive by the cops. But he didn’t want to arouse further suspicion. Poplar is one-way. Turning around to avoid the police would arouse suspicion.

Ingles was parked mid-block. He checked out who was inside the Nissan. He couldn’t make out too many details from that distance. But he did see two young black men, one in a white shirt, one in a dark shirt. That fit the basic outlines of the descriptions of two men whom Fair Haven’s cops had been looking for. They were believed to have committed four armed robberies in four days.

Ingles had “reasonable suspicion” to stop the car and talk to the driver and passenger, he said. But he didn’t have probable cause.

Then he noticed the Nissan’s front license plate was missing. That’s against the law. Now he had probable cause.

Mind Game

But “that wasn’t enough for me,” he said. “I wanted them to come closer. I wanted a better look before I stopped them.”

In part, that was because he wanted a better sense if the stop could indeed prove dangerous, whether he would need to radio for back-up.

So instead of approaching the Nissan, Ingles backed his car into a nearby driveway. “I wanted them to think they could drive freely by me.”

The Nissan’s driver responded as Ingles hoped; he drove slowly by. The driver waved at Ingles; his front-seat passenger hid his head.

“Thank you very much,” Ingles recalled thinking: Not only did he get a better look at the driver’s face. He got his rear license plate number. He ran it quickly on his car’s mobile data terminal. It came back as belonging to another car.

Now Ingles had a second violation constituting probable cause for a stop—and, unlike the missing marker infraction, an arrestable offense.

He turns on his lights, pulled out of the driveway and behind the Nissan.

The driver didn’t heed the lights. He kept driving.

“Now [he’s] disobeying an officer’s signal,” Ingles noted. “And adding to my suspicion.”

The Door-Slamming Ruse

The Nissan driver reached the intersection of Poplar and Lombard. Ingles believed he knew what the driver was thinking. He believed the driver wanted him to get out of his car.

“In my rookie years I made the mistake of getting out my car right away. They leave the area. They have speed, time and distance” on their side in that case.

Ingles, a Marine vet who’s 42, now has 11 years on the job. He doesn’t make the mistake anymore.

He did open his door on Poplar Street. “I slammed it real hard so they could hear it [and believe Ingles was exiting the cruiser]. Half the times that works.”

This was one of those times. The Nissan driver took off, turned right onto Lombard. He didn’t speed; he turned left onto Ferry with Ingles right behind him, calling in for back-up. The chase continued north on I-91.

Where the guessing game and strategizing continued.

“They don’t want to stay too long on the highway” for risk for attracting state police to the chase, Ingles remembered thinking. They approached Exit 8, Middletown Avenue. Ingles figured they’d get off there. They didn’t.

Next he figured they’d get off soon after, in North Haven, perhaps because they know the street grid there. Ingles didn’t like that idea. He doesn’t know North Haven’s streets, so he’d be at a disadvantage.

Suddenly the Nissan driver tricked him. He slammed on the brakes right on the highway, at a highway entrance ramp near Exit 8. Then he drove the wrong way on the entrance ramp, off the highway, back onto Middletown Avenue. Luckily, no one was driving onto the highway at that moment.

Ingles followed, continuing to call in updates on the cruiser’s microphone.

Help was coming: cop cars with lights flashing headed toward them north on Middletown Avenue. Ingles watched to see what the Nissan driver would do next.

The driver took a quick left onto Barnes Avenue. He led his cop pursuers past Ross Woodward School to the T intersection where Barnes ends at busy Quinnipiac Avenue—and where the driver faced another decision which Ingles hoped to anticipate.

“I’m calling [in] saying he’s probably going left.” That direction heads to North Haven, possibly promising territory for eluding New Haven cops, Turning right would lead to the traffic light at the busy Route 80 intersection. “That light,” Ingles noted, “takes forever to change.”

He called it right. The Nissan driver turned left.

Bitang Hits Taco Bell

He was burning rubber now. Ingles worried again about losing the advantage: “I’m thinking, back to North Haven. He knows North Haven!”

Instead, the Nissan driver swerved right onto Foxon Hill Road. That road eventually runs into East Haven. Was the Nissan headed there?

Nope. The driver looped around a commercial building, then returned to Quinnipiac Avenue.

“Now he does something that boggles me,” Ingles recalls: He turned left onto Quinnipiac and toward trouble—that crowded, slow Route 80 intersection.

The decision boggled Ingles’ mind because he—and presumably the driver—could see cops cars coming toward them on Quinnipiac.

“Now I’m thinking, not [whether he’s] dumb or dangerous. He’s just dangerous. No one’s going to that length because he didn’t have a [front license] plate. You’re going to that length because you have something in this car or you did something or you were about to do something put somebody in danger. There’s a gun in that car.”

And there’s a Taco Bell at that Route 80 intersection. The Nissan driver tried to swerve into the restaurant’s parking lot. He was driving too fast to make the turn; he hit the curb, popped a tire, and leaped out of the car, into the lot.

Ingles drove into the lot, watching the man run. The man climbed onto the side of a Dumpster. he reached to his waist, pulled an object, thrust it above his head. It was a semiautomatic handgun. (A .40 caliber Smith and Wesson, it would turn out.) He thrust the gun into the Dumpster, which was piled high with trash. Then he leaped off the Dumpster and resumed running.

By this time Ingles was on foot too. Back-up officers had arrived on scene. He directed one to stand by the Dumpster to make sure no one touches the contents. Then Ingles and two officers followed the fleeing suspect across Quinnipiac Avenue.

The suspect ran behind a house—straight to a “mountain” of discarded tree stumps and brush. He was cornered.

The three officers converged on him. For some reason, he reached for his waistband again, according to Ingles. At which point Ingles drew his Taser and immobilized him.

The three officers searched the suspect; he did not have another gun on him. They tried to handcuff him; the shock from the Taser wore off, and the man proceeded “to try to bite me,” Ingles said. Ingles Tased him again. The officers cuffed him, stood him up, brought him to a cruiser.

“Why did you run?” Ingles asked him.

“I don’t have a gun,” he recalled the man responded. Ingles hadn’t asked him if he had a gun.

Back in the parking lot, officers had also caught the Nissan’s passenger. And the police department’s gun-sniffing German Shepherd Bitang was already in the Dumpster, leading Officer Eddie DeJesus to the buried Smith & Wesson. The serial number had been scratched out.


The cops charged the Nissan driver, who’s 22, with 19 offenses, including altering/removing identifying marks on a firearm, failure to register a motor vehicle, driving to endanger a passenger, disobeying the cops, carrying a pistol without a permit, and operating a vehicle on the wrong side of the road. The cops also arrested the Nissan passenger.

Twelve days after the chase, the Smith & Weston was up at the state police lab.

The Nissan driver had not confessed to committing the string of robberies.

But this much was clear: Not only did Ingles get an illegal gun off the street. He got a felon with a history of robbery—the Nissan driver—off the street. As well as the Nissan’s passenger, who’s on probation for burglary.

And, Ingles reported, Fair Haven’s string of two-man armed robberies had come to an abrupt end.

Read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series:

Shafiq Abdussabur
Lloyd Barrett
Maneet Bhagtana
Paul Bicki
Scott Branfuhr
Dennis Burgh
Rob Clark & Joe Roberts
Sydney Collier
David Coppola
Roy Davis
Joe Dease
Milton DeJesus
Brian Donnelly
Anthony Duff
Bertram Etienne
Paul Finch
Jeffrey Fletcher
Renee Forte
Marco Francia
William Gargone
William Gargone & Mike Torre
Derek Gartner
Jon Haddad & Daniela Rodriguez
Dan Hartnett
Ray Hassett
Robert Hayden
Robin Higgins
Ronnell Higgins
William Hurley & Eddie Morrone
Racheal Inconiglios
Paul Kenney
Hilda Kilpatrick
Herb Johnson
Peter Krause
Peter Krause (2)
Amanda Leyda
Rob Levy
Anthony Maio
Steve McMorris
Juan Monzon
Chris Perrone
Stephanie Redding
Tony Reyes
Luis & David Rivera
Luis Rivera (2)
Salvador Rodriguez
Brett Runlett
David Runlett
Marcus Tavares
Martin Tchakirides
Stephan Torquati
Gene Trotman Jr.
Kelly Turner
Lars Vallin (& Xander)
John Velleca
Holly Wasilewski
Alan Wenk
Michael Wuchek

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posted by: DR on August 5, 2011  12:34pm

Riveting account of a good cop’s good work.

posted by: truth on August 5, 2011  1:03pm

“But he did see two young black men, one in a white shirt, one in a dark shirt. That fit the basic outlines of the descriptions of two men whom Fair Haven’s cops had been looking for. They were believed to have committed four armed robberies in four days.”

If a white cop had done this, the article would have looked quite differently…

Great job Officer Ingles!!!!

posted by: V on August 5, 2011  1:35pm

Stay safe out there.

I’m flabbergasted by how easily felons can get handguns.  Easier than a tax-paying citizen, that’s for sure.

posted by: NEW_HAVEN_RESIDENT on August 5, 2011  2:35pm

Great job Officer Ingles…..

I’m glad to see how our streets gets clean…. We do need help from the community itself… We complain about how bad is out here in the streets of New Haven, but if you “see something say something” Cops don’t know what’s going on in your neighborhood unless you report it….

posted by: Ex-NHPD on August 5, 2011  3:46pm

Nice work Juan.  I certainly was not surprised to read that it was you making this grab.  A real home run—2 criminals arrested, an illegal handgun seized, a confession to a slew of armed robberies, the robbery team put into time-out.

Every day, on all the shifts, MANY of the men and women of NHPD are doing more than just showing up for work.  They take the info and updates they get at line-ups, from Detectives, and from their fellow officers; then they go out looking for the bad guys, hoping to get to them before they prey on another victim(s).

Keep up the good work NHPD. Stay safe.

posted by: nice on August 5, 2011  4:52pm

Great job officers!  good read too!

posted by: Fair Haven Resident on August 5, 2011  6:21pm

Great Job Officer Ingles, he’s also a great guy, always polite and respectful to us residents.  Thank you!

oh and independet, it was officer eddie dejesus who found the gun, not milton djesus, milton works in kensinton.

posted by: Nancy on August 5, 2011  6:36pm

Great job by a great cop!

posted by: P176 on August 5, 2011  7:37pm

Great job Juan keep up the good work

posted by: Livesinfairhaven on August 5, 2011  10:59pm


posted by: DKR on August 5, 2011  11:26pm

good cop,..good guy,...!!!

posted by: Pongratz on August 6, 2011  10:40am

Nice Work!

posted by: Rich on August 6, 2011  8:55pm

Not surprised to hear about the work that Juan does as a NHPD beat cop. He is as conscientious as they come; having known him before he even became a cop Juan was once a custodian in the New Haven school system. Even then he could be counted on to do what was expected of him and never had to be reminded of what he had to do. One of the brightest guys you ever want to know as evidenced by his thoughtful comments in the above police report. The guy could trouble shoot a broken computer bettter than the techs who serviced computers for the school system. You are lucky to have someone of his caliber on the force.

posted by: Thank you on August 7, 2011  11:31am

Thank you, NHPD, for removing that ... from our streets.

posted by: janyce murphy on August 7, 2011  4:21pm

So glad NHI did this story - and even happier to know we have officers such as Ofc. Ingles protecting our city.

posted by: Trustme on August 9, 2011  1:05am

.... I’m glad our tax money is being spent well at times… Keep up the great work NHPD

posted by: police supporter on August 10, 2011  1:50am

Good Job Juan, Nice to see someone who deserves Cop of the Week get it!  Awesome as always!

Good job Dejesus and Bitang too!! lol