Earl Reed hurried down Park Street to catch a suspected burglar. He arrived to find a more heinous crime in progress.
Reed (pictured), a cop who patrols on bike, ended up stopping a home intruder from following through with a sexual assault.
He and his fellow officers got the man in handcuffs after Reed tackled him inside a narrow hallway in a Yale-owned house on Edgewood Avenue last Friday. The encounter left Reed injured and on crutches—and earned him a cop’s ultimate reward, knowing he had rescued a victim from a vicious attack.
“This is the most satisfying arrest I ever made. We prevented something horrible from happening,” Reed said in an interview Friday.
His work in the incident on Edgewood Avenue demonstrates both the effectiveness of bike patrols as well as the kind of hard work and talent Reed has displayed in his 20 years on the Yale police force, said Chief Ronnell Higgins. “He’s one of our original bike cops,” Higgins said. “There’s no doubt that his actions prevented further escalation” of the attack. And that his Cannondale bike got him there in the nick of time.
Reed was among the first cops in town to patrol on bicycle, two decades ago. Yale experimented with the idea with a few officers. Reed and others suggested expanding the idea. They found that a bike serves two purposes: It keeps them in closer touch with people on the street than a car. And it gets them to crimes faster than a car or their two feet down downtown’s alleyways and one-way streets.
“It’s a blast. Every 20 feet someone stops you to ask a question. Kids are less intimidated; they stop to talk to you,” said Reed, a 43-year-old West Haven native who joined the Yale force after earning an accounting degree at Southern. (He decided he wanted to work outside with people rather than holed up in an office.)
He was well into the second of two consecutive 8-hour shifts around 6 p.m. last Friday, checking in on Broadway merchants, when someone in the parking lot there asked for help. He’d locked himself out of his car.
Just then a call came over the police radio about a burglary attempt two blocks away on Edgewood Avenue near the corner of Park Street.
“Your ears go up at burglary,” Reed said.
A follow-up message came over the radio: A woman had called in the complaint after jumping out of a window of the house to call police. That doesn’t happen often.
“Everybody has to go” at that point, Reed said. He apologized to the locked-out driver, then hopped on his Cannondale. He tore down Park Street, then hopped off the bike and approached the address where the complaint had been reported, a small house rented by a group of young women.
The woman who’d called police was hiding in bushes in the back. She approached Reed when he arrived. He silently motioned her to step back, then walked around the house.
“At this point, I just think it’s a burglary,” Reed recalled. So he sought to find a position in sight of the burglary, then wait for back-up before approaching the burglar. He could already hear sirens in the distance. “I know in two to three minutes I’ll have a ton of cops coming.”
Then he noticed a first-floor window open about three inches, on the rear side of the house. He reached in to pull back the curtain. A man’s back was inches away. Reed could almost touch him.
He still thought the man was a burglar. He figured the man was rummaging through the house. “I didn’t want to startle the guy” yet.
“But then I saw him ball his fist and punch down with his right hand,” Reed recalled. Next he saw a smaller hand, a woman’s hand, reach up in defense.
This was no burglary.
“That’s when I realized there’s a sexual assault in progress or about to happen.”
Reed banged on the window. Now he wanted to startle the man. Meanwhile, he called in a “signal 99,” or priority emergency.
“He got off her, which is all I cared about” at the moment, Reed reported.
Reed stepped to the back door, which was right next to the window. Luckily, it was unlocked.
He ran into a narrow hallway—and right into the fleeing attacker.
The attacker pushed Reed out of the way, headed through the dark hallway to the front door of the house. Reed ran after him. He caught up and tackled him.
They were facing a wall, so Reed had to pull the attacker backwards. They fell to the floor. Reed was lying on his back. The attacker was also on his back, on top of Reed. Reed got him in a choke hold; they rolled on the floor, the man punching and kicking Reed as Reed, wondering if the man had a knife or a gun, tried to grab his hands.
Reed often thinks of his 10 and 13-year-old daughters while on the job, especially when he encounters unnerving crimes. He thinks: In five or six years, his daughters will begin heading off to college. This could happen to them.
But inside the Edgewood Avenue house, Reed was running on adrenaline, with one focus in mind: “I don’t want to sound like a hero; there are enough heroes out there. But I was just thinking about her [the attack victim’s] safety.”
Moments after the wrestling began inside the hallway, two more Yale cops arrived, Officer Alex Rivera and Lieutenant Jay Jones. They and Reed succeeded in handcuffing and arresting the attacker.
The attacker had some blood on his nose. An ambulance crew arrived, checked him out, and concluded he wasn’t hurt. He was ready to be booked.
A third woman who lives in the house (in addition to the attack victim and the roommate in the bushes) emerged from upstairs. She’d hidden in the bathroom, calling 911 to see if it was safe to come out.
As other cops arrived to deal with the scene, Reed went to the Yale police station on Ashmun Street to clean himself up and begin filing his report. He, too, had been bloodied. He had cuts and bruises. He was also elated. He knew he had helped someone in true danger.
Over the next few hours, officers shared more details about the incident. He learned his initial hunch was true: The home invader, a 52-year-old man whose last known address was the Grand Avenue homeless shelter, was indeed beginning to commit a sexual assault before Reed interrupted and stopped him. It turned out the man had knocked on the door of the house an hour before the attack to inquire if he could do some work cleaning up trash outside the house; the woman said no, and he left, only to return later and force his way inside.
It also turned out that the man is a registered sex offender with a history of arrests for violent offenses both in Connecticut and in other states, according to police. Police are withholding other information about the incident, including, of course, the identity of the victims and details of the attack.
As Reed continued working on his report into the night, he noticed a burning feeling near his thigh. He figured it would go away.
“This could be one of our sons, one of our daughters,” Reed said he and his fellow officers reflected as they discussed the incident during the night. At 10 p.m., he text-messaged his daughters at home. He couldn’t tell them any details of what happened. He did tell them that “I just made the best arrest of my career.”
The burning feeling in his hip persisted. He checked in with a doctor at the nearby Yale health center on his way home, then returned days later to see an orthopedist. The doc said Reed appeared to have torn a tendon. He ordered Reed to stay on crutches and told him to stay off his feet as much as possible for the next seven to 10 days—“which is tough with two girls” at home, Reed noted with a smile.
Reed doesn’t feel comfortable talking much about himself. He said he is proud of arrests he has made over the years, taking guns off the streets, catching burglars. None of those compares to the outcome of his pedaled rush to Edgewood Avenue last Friday night.
“It was the best thing that has happened in my career,” he said. “It’s not the arrest. The girl can wake up tomorrow feeling better” than if Officer Reed hadn’t arrived in time.
Read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series:
• Shafiq Abdussabur
• Craig Alston & Billy White Jr.
• James Baker
• Lloyd Barrett
• Manmeet Bhagtana (Colon)
• Paul Bicki
• Paul Bicki (2)
• Sheree Biros
• Scott Branfuhr
• Dennis Burgh
• Anthony Campbell
• Rob Clark & Joe Roberts
• Sydney Collier
• Carlos Conceicao
• Carlos Conceicao (2)
• Carlos Conceicao and Josh Kyle
• David Coppola
• Roy Davis
• Joe Dease
• Milton DeJesus
• Milton DeJesus (2)
• Brian Donnelly
• Anthony Duff
• Robert DuPont
• Jeremie Elliott and Scott Shumway
• Jose Escobar Sr.
• Bertram Ettienne
• Bertram Ettienne (2)
• Martin Feliciano & Lou DeCrescenzo
• Paul Finch
• Jeffrey Fletcher
• Renee Forte
• Marco Francia
• William Gargone
• William Gargone & Mike Torre
• Derek Gartner
• Derek Gartner & Ryan Macuirzynski
• Jon Haddad & Daniela Rodriguez
• Dan Hartnett
• Ray Hassett
• Robert Hayden
• Robin Higgins
• Ronnell Higgins
• William Hurley & Eddie Morrone
• Racheal Inconiglios
• Juan Ingles
• Paul Kenney
• Hilda Kilpatrick
• Herb Johnson
• John Kaczor & Alex Morgillo
• Jillian Knox
• Peter Krause
• Peter Krause (2)
• Amanda Leyda
• Rob Levy
• Anthony Maio
• Dana Martin
• Steve McMorris
• Juan Monzon
• Chris Perrone
• Ron Perry
• Joe Pettola
• Diego Quintero and Elvin Rivera
• Stephanie Redding
• Tony Reyes
• David Rivera
• Luis & David Rivera
• Luis Rivera (2)
• Salvador Rodriguez
• Salvador Rodriguez (2)
• Brett Runlett
• David Runlett
• Allen Smith
• Marcus Tavares
• Martin Tchakirides
• David Totino
• Stephan Torquati
• Gene Trotman Jr.
• Kelly Turner
• Lars Vallin (& Xander)
• Dave Vega & Rafael Ramirez
• John Velleca
• Manuella Vensel
• Holly Wasilewski
• Holly Wasilewski (2)
• Alan Wenk
• Stephanija VanWilgen
• Matt Williams
• Michael Wuchek
• Michael Wuchek (2)
• David Zannelli
• David Zaweski