She Jumped The Fence. Again

Paul Bass PhotoBehind her, bullets were exploding from a burning car on I-95 off Exit 52. Ahead of her, the driver, whom she’d been chasing from the west side of New Haven, had fled into woods. A rickety 6-to-7-foot-high chain link fence blocked her path.

Piece of cake.

Officer Sheree Biros (pictured) knew what to do. She didn’t have to slow down.

She set her sights on a pole, always the sturdiest spot. She flew toward the fence, stuck a foot into a link near the pole, propelled her body up.

In one motion she stepped onto the top of the fence, then leapt to the ground.

Just like a trained gymnast who pole-vaulted her way through adolescence. Just like a cop used to jumping fences to catch crooks.

Just like Biros.

“I love finding people,” she said. “I love fences. It’s just an obstacle. Whatever you do, you’ll be right behind them until they get tired or trip or mess up.”

She stayed right behind the driver all through town in the dramatic chase that ended in the fiery I-95 crash last Friday. Lots of cops played a part in eventually capturing and arresting the driver. By all accounts, Biros played a leading role—one she has played repeatedly, thanks to quick instincts and athletic prowess.

At least three times in recent months, that role has involved confronting a fence.

Upside Down, Early

Biros (pronounced BYE-roce), who’s 31, discovered her athletic muse early on. “I taught myself how to walk on my hands when I was 5,” she recalled, “from the back door to the front.” (Biros and her husband, fellow New Haven cop Duane Biros, have a 5-year-old-daughter—who’s also walking on her hands.) From 10 years old to 20, Biros competed on a gymnastics team, sometimes nationally. Her favorite event: the vault.

“It was the greatest,” she recalled while working a stick of watermelon Trident chewing gum hard during an interview. “It was the most powerful. You run. You kick the vault. You jump.”

Since she joined the force seven years ago, Biros has found that talent useful in pursuing suspects.

It was useful this past Oct. 6. when Capt. Leo Bombalicki radioed for help in locating a driver of a stolen Jeep tearing through the Edgewood neighborhood at 70 miles per hour.

Biros responded; she was nearby on Ellsworth. She soon saw the Jeep crash at Chapel and Ellsworth. She saw the 19-year-old driver leap out and start running.

She and Bombalicki, who was also nearby, jumped out of their cruisers and gave chase.

Biros followed the fleeing driver into a backyard. She saw him jump an 8-foot fence.

Now it was her turn.

This fence was made of wood. She headed to a corner.

“That’s where your base is going to be,” she said. “I did my own fence [at home]—two feet of cement every eight feet.”

With no chain links to step into for leverage, Biros counted on friction. She hit the fence with the rubber sole of one of her shoes and was propelled to the top.

She didn’t try to catapult all the way over the fence. She knows the gear can put her at a disadvantage in a chase, not just slowing her down, but potentially getting caught at the point of a picket.

She placed her foot on top of the fence. “I look down to see what I’m going to jump into. Then I jump.”

She saw the fleeing driver run to hide behind a house. “I don’t think he thought I was going to jump the fence,” she said. But she did. She saw him. She put him against the house and handcuffed him.

Another wooden fence had greeted her weeks before that, when she was chasing an alleged robber in the Hill.

Earlier that day Biros had been investigating a complaint from a woman in the Hill who said her boyfriend stole her van. Biros asked the woman to call if the man returned.

Meanwhile, the East Haven police had reported someone in the same van had committed a commercial robbery in their town.

Biros was at the substation on Congress Avenue when the call came: the man had returned. Aware that the girlfriend had called the cops, he took off running.

Biros looked at the street. By coincidence, a man meeting the description was running by. Right there on the block.

“I’m like, ‘No way,’” she recalled thinking. Yep, it was the guy. After “banging a 99” priority radio call, she took off after him.

The chase led to a backyard and “a wooden stupid picket fence.” Unbeknownst to both of them, piles of construction debris—mesh orange fencing—awaited on the other side. First the suspect, then Biros, leapt. They both jumped into the debris. Alerted to the chase’s direction, Officer Jason Jackson had arrived in the yard. He held the suspect, and Biros handcuffed him.

Silent Communication

Three other officers ended up physically stopping the fleeing driver Biros was chasing in last Friday’s dramatic chase that ended with the fiery I-95 crash.

Some of her other skills, rather than her fence-jumping, proved crucial in that well-coordinated group effort, said Sgt. Max Joyner, Biros’s supervisor in the Whalley-Beaver Hills-Edgewood district.

“Without hesitation, she will drop what she’s doing to assist another officer. She is quick to act,” Joyner observed.

“You want to make sure when an officer needs assistance, they see blue,” Biros said. “It’s always nice to see blue.”

It was just before 4 p.m., the first hour of Biros’s shift. She was outside a door at Goffe Street and Sherman Avenue following up on a complaint. No one was answering.

A call came on the radio for help. A man wanted on weapons charges had fled the cops on Beers Street.

Biros hopped in her cruiser and headed over. A half-dozen or so officers went to Edgewood Avenue. They learned they had driven too far. The suspect was nearby, in the other direction, nearby on the Boulevard.

The other cops pulled into reverse to back toward him. Biros pulled a U-turn instead onto Boulevard. She was the first to locate the suspect, who was stopped at a light in an old-model Buick.

A game of non-verbal communication began.

Biros saw him look around with a shocked expression when he noticed her car. She translated the expression as: “Oh my God, they’re here for me.”

She turned on her lights to tell him to pull over.

“He pulls a U-Turn in front of me [instead]. Almost takes out my car.” He hit the gas. She followed behind.

For a while she was the only one within sight. She radioed in the course: Maple Street. Brownell. Whalley. Norton Parkway.

For a while the pace stayed at around 25 or 30 miles an hour, she said.

On Goffe, the suspect pulled into the wrong lane on traffic. Biros interpreted the move to mean: “I’m going to drive recklessly, hoping you’ll cut the chase off.”

Instead of following in the wrong lane, she drove alongside him in the correct line as he turned onto Crescent, then through the streets of Newhallville, up the hill on Huntington Street, then down the hill into East Rock, down to State. The pace picked up.

Along the way Biros kept other officers aware of the route over the radio. Rather than converge on the driver in a chase, the cops try to fan out on nearby streets to anticipate where a driver might head while one or two officers directly tail a fleeing suspect, to close off escape routes.

“We’re headed towards the highway,” Biros announced as they approached an entrance to I-91. Chases often lead that way. But the driver surprised her: He stayed on city streets into Fair Haven.

“Every corner we turned there were officers,” Biros recalled. Officer Terrence McNeill took the lead behind the driver as Biros tailed behind.

The cops thought the driver might head to a Fair Haven address where he used to live. He surprised them again, crossing over Ferry Street into the Annex, up towards Forbes Avenue and the East Shore.

He swerved left onto Forbes and toward I-95—continuing onto the highway straight into opposing traffic.

That was it. “The chase was terminated immediately.”

Biros didn’t follow. Instead she slowed down. Ahead, the driver crashed his car into a box truck and another car. His car erupted in flames. A gun was inside the car; bullets started shooting out of it.

“I need fire personnel,” Biros remembers radioing in. “The car’s engulfed in flames.” McNeill called for an ambulance for the drivers.

With traffic stopped, Biros traveled in the breakdown lane to the scene. Other cops had arrived too.

Biros ran up to the box truck driver to make sure he was OK. He was.

Then Biros approached a trucker who’d stopped at the accident. Both yelling amid the noise, she then relied on hand signals to ask where the driver had gone. He pointed her to an embankment by the side of the highway.

That’s when she ran down the embankment and jumped the fence.

On the other side, she couldn’t see the man. She heard on the radio that a call had gone out for police dogs to search the area. That meant her job was done.

“At that point you don’t want to move. You don’t want the dog to smell you” on the trail rather than the suspect, she said. She “held my position” until she heard that other officers—who turned out to be Jeffrey Fletcher, Nancy Jordan, and Nick Marcucio—had caught up with the suspect and arrested him.

It took a lot of officers to keep on top of the suspect and catch him, Joyner said. He and another supervisor at the scene, Sgt. Anthony Zona, credited Biros with making it all possible by being the first to find the suspect, then keeping him in sight, while staying calm and providing solid information on the radio throughout the chase.

“When you’re caught up in the moment,” Joyner observed, “that’s hard to do.”


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

Shafiq Abdussabur
James Baker
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
Robert DuPont
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
Juan Ingles
Paul Kenney
Hilda Kilpatrick
Herb Johnson
Peter Krause
Peter Krause (2)
Amanda Leyda
Rob Levy
Anthony Maio
Steve McMorris
Juan Monzon
Chris Perrone
Diego Quintero and Elvin Rivera
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
Stephanija VanWilgen
Michael Wuchek
David Zannelli
David Zaweski

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Sean O'Grady on January 13, 2012  2:49pm

Way to go Sheree! You’re my hero!

posted by: Ex-NHPD on January 13, 2012  5:27pm

Congratulations to Sheree and everyone else for a job well done.  Teamwork and communication gets it done.  B-Squad rocks!

Stay safe.

posted by: The Truth on January 13, 2012  5:51pm

Cartridges (ie bullets) exploding in a fire are not a danger to anyone more than a couple of feet away ( and them only from possible case fragments).  They DONOT fly all over the area like you see in the movies. Basically they simply flare out in their immediate area with no lead flying anywhere. They are basically harmless.  Surprised the NHPD dosent know that. Makes for a better story though.

posted by: Elaine Braffman on January 13, 2012  6:58pm

Incredible police work….amazing perseverance….nothing less than professional….thank you Officer Biros for being very dedicated and thanks to all the other officers! A job well done.

posted by: NHPD on January 13, 2012  7:12pm

Excellent job Sheree women like you give other female officers a good name in the PD . Im so proud of you and I’m pretty sure so are other officers.

posted by: Lisa on January 13, 2012  8:56pm

She rocks. More like her, please.

posted by: A Resident on Estelle on January 13, 2012  9:24pm

Great call out on the radio to Ofc. Sheree Biros but the question is who told this account? That is not exactly how the suspect was actually apprehended. The suspect was intercepted minutes away from a rendezvous with a relative he had been on his cell phone with while he was being pursued. Look at the NHI picture the same day at “Torello’s Tire”. As the suspect was being escorted to waiting emergency medical personnel you will notice a black female standing on the embankment looking at the occurrence. That was a relative who was to pick the suspect up as he was to emerge from the back yard of 53 Estelle Road in East Haven. No other police personnel ever crossed over the railroad tracks from the wreckage because there was a watery moat which the suspect had to wade through to get to the rear of 53 Estelle Rd. There were several NHPD officers that were already in the back yards on 53 Estelle St. to be exact. Needless to say, there is one less bad guy off of the streets! Good job to everyone who was involved. Please tell the story correct though! We actually witnessed it!

posted by: HhE on January 13, 2012  11:52pm

The Truth, so true.  Pity so many people rely upon Hollywood to learn how the world works.

Well done Officer Brios.  I will have to teach your technique to my kids, as becoming a jingcha (Chinese for Policeman) is on their short list of carriers.  (Firefighter and Vet are also strong contenders.)

posted by: N.D./f2 on January 14, 2012  12:02am

Sheree is my hero! You go girl!

posted by: Hmmmm! on January 14, 2012  12:38am

Maybe Officer Biros should audition for a Bruce Lee “B” rated martial arts movie with all of the leaping and flying over fences! Just saying.

posted by: NHPD on January 17, 2012  6:29pm

Great job Sheree!! Keep up the good work!