Before turning himself in Monday morning, a 28-year-old New Haven man on the run from the police wanted to make sure he had a chance to tell the world he never tried to run over a cop.
The man, William Outlaw IV, spent the past week as a wanted man.
He did so after a cop stopped him last Monday on Lilac Street as he was sitting in a parked car. A struggle ensued; the cops claimed Outlaw was caught with drugs on his lap and tried to run them over to get away.
Outlaw spent the rest of the week in hiding. Monday morning he came to the state courthouse on Elm Street with his mother, his sister, his baby daughter Dylan, and his daughter’s mother; and with his attorney, Michael Jefferson. Jefferson contacted Sgt. Al Vazquez, who heads the police department’s detective bureau. Vazquez met the group down by the lock-up in the courthouse basement, frisked Outlaw, then placed him under arrest. Outlaw will now face multiple charges, including two counts of assaulting a police officer, and reckless driving.
Outlaw said he feared spending the long Thanksgiving weekend in the police lock-up, based on a three-day stay there in 2006. And he said he wanted a chance to be interviewed before he surrendered on Monday so that his story could go on the record.
That interview took place outside the city limits before Outlaw turned himself in. Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch highlights.
Outlaw (pictured) and the man who arrested him, Officer Robert Hayden, tell widely divergent stories about their fateful confrontation.
They agree that Outlaw kept repeating one plea throughout: “I’m a good guy! I’m a good guy!”
William Outlaw IV, who grew up in New Haven, is the son of a former gang-banger turned city street outreach worker, William “Juneboy” Outlaw III. He said he’s been working hard to be a good guy since he left prison 30 months ago after serving four and a half years on felony convictions for armed assault and carrying a pistol without a permit. He remains on probation, which means he could face extra trouble because of the events of the past week.
“I came home and did good. I’ve been home 30 months. I’ve worked 28 of those months. I completed parole. No dirty urines. I did probation. They put me on unconditional probation. That’s how good I was doing. I work six days a week. I just had a newborn daughter three months ago. ... I just got my truck. I was happy to get that to get my daughter to doctor’s appointments. …
“What happened on Monday was just a blink of an eye. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it was happening. I couldn’t jeopardize everything I worked hard for.”
Outlaw was sitting in that new truck, a 2003 Volvo XC90, between 4:30 and 5 p.m. when Officer Hayden spotted him. Hayden was accompanied by Douglas Pearce, a rookie officer who just completed training.
Hayden asked Outlaw why he parked on Lilac Street—an area, Hayden later noted, that’s known for drug dealing. Outlaw said he was waiting for a friend to come outside. He did not identify the friend. Pearce approached the car, too.
Hayden asked for ID. Outlaw handed over his driver’s license.
At that point the stories diverge. (Click here for a story including an interview with Hayden about his version.)
Hayden claimed he saw bags with white powder on Outlaw’s lap. Outlaw said he had nothing but a cell phone on his lap. He said he has never dealt drugs.
Hayden said Outlaw refused an order to get out of the car, so he reached inside to pull him out, at which point Outlaw fought him, then floored the vehicle and dragged both cops up the block, onto the sidewalk, into a fence. Then Outlaw pulled into reverse and almost ran over them again before fleeing, Hayden said. Hayden went to the hospital to be treated for a swollen knee; medics treated Pearson’s banged-up leg and forearm at the scene.
Outlaw’s version: Hayden drove by him, asked him why he was there, then did a U-turn, got out, approached his truck, then asked again. Outlaw repeated that he was waiting to pick up a friend. Once Hayden took his license, he dropped it out of sight, Outlaw said. Then, he said, Hayden reached into the car, pulled up the lock, swung open the door. He started punching Outlaw, ripping his white and navy-blue hoodie (pictured) as well as the T-shirt below it; then trying to “yank” him out of the car while Outlaw was still in his seat belt, Outlaw said.
Outlaw looked at Hayden’s badge, saw his name. He’d never met Hayden before, he said. But, he said, he’d heard lots of talk about him being an “asshole” cop who harasses people in Newhallville.
“Officer why are you doing this to me? I’m a good guy! I’m a good guy! Let me just put my car in park. Please! Please!” Outlaw recalled imploring Hayden as the car, already in gear, rolled onto the sidewalk.
“There was no reason for him to immediately jump in my car and ... attack me,” Outlaw said.
At that point Hayden pulled away and “reach[ed] for his hip,” Outlaw recalled. “The only time I know an officer reaching for his hip, he’s going to shoot. I thought about a life or death situation. So I panicked and floored it and got out of the way.”
His Volvo hit the fence, rolled over it. Outlaw said he kept driving straight, back onto Lilac, onto Ivy Street, where he bailed and, in his view, ran for his life.
He knew running could get him in trouble, especially while he is on probation. But he figured the alternative “was me taking an ass-whooping and tremendous beat down or being killed by the officer,” Outlaw said. “I just had to get out of Dodge.”
That wasn’t going to be easy.
The police put on a full-court press to find him, with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service.
They checked his known addresses in town. His father spoke with the police, too.
Outlaw learned how serious the hunt was from the TV news. He bristled at the version of the incident being told.
He phoned in to the company where he works as a custodian, told them why he couldn’t come in. He retained an attorney, Michael Jefferson. Jefferson counseled him to collect his pay stubs and certificates from the ex-offender programs he had completed, then to prepare to turn himself in.
If he had been trying to flee from the cops, Outlaw reasoned in the interview, he would never have produced his driver’s license. He wouldn’t have let the police known his name and address. He in fact wanted the officer to check his registration, his insurance, his record, to see that all was in order, to see he had no outstanding warrants. He wanted to prove that he was “a good guy,” Outlaw said, but he didn’t get the chance.
He will now have a chance to prove he’s a good guy—before a judge, in court.