Alleged Bike Thief Attacks Cop

Paul Bass PhotoThree Yale cops caught an alleged thief in the act of swiping a bike, then had to wrestle him to the ground to make the arrest.

The episode occurred Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (The above photo shows the scene with the arrestee, wearing a headband in the background, and the recovered bike at left.)

Here’s what happened, according to Yale Assistant Chief Steve Woznyk:

Someone called Yale police to report a theft in progress on Temple Street between Grove and Wall.

Yale Detectives Paul Sires and Jen Herten and Sgt. Marnie Robbins-Hoffman happened to be nearby. They came upon the man in the act of having lifted a chained two-wheeler above a sign pole.

They identified themselves as cops.

“Hey, I’m just trying to help,” the man responded.

Then he started punching one of the detectives in the face. The three cops wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him. They arrested the man, who is 44 years old and listed the Columbus House homeless shelter as his address, on charges of larceny, interfering, and assault on a police officer. The punched officer had marks and swelling on his face as well as injured fingers; he went to the Yale Health Plan for treatment.

The arrestee has been convicted of numerous crimes in recent years, including a 2010 felony bias intimidation and assault case for which he served three years behind bars.

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posted by: Dwightstreeter on October 23, 2013  7:40pm

Bike theft is a big and persistent problem here in New Haven.
It would be nice to see the police make this more of a priority and start tying a goat, I mean a bike, to a post to attract the predators.
High end bikes can cost $700 to thousands and I’m not aware of any of the thieves being caught - ever.
This rare catch at Yale needs to be duplicated all over town.

posted by: passerby on October 23, 2013  9:48pm

I have never in my life found the need to comment on ANY news story. I was walking right across the street when I saw this happen this afternoon. I watched the guy looking at the bike and playing around with a bike chain. He did not look scary at all. Then I saw one of the undercover cops run out yelling at the guy. I was directly across the street and I was kind of stunned at what I was watching. I froze and watched as the alleged thief kept saying ” sorry, etc” I did NOT see the alleged thief strike the cop. What I DID see was one cop hammering the alleged thief with his walkie talkie over and over again almost immediately when he got to him. He was slamming it in the guys head several times and this guy was not attacking them from what I was able to see right in front of me. Then a female copy ran up and tacked the guy to the ground like a football player. 3 cop cars showed up within a minute and were right down the street apparently. Was this a setup with a planted bike to see if someone would grab it? Shame on you NHPD. I wish I just had the sense to videotape it! Not saying I want the guy over for dinner but in my mind I witnessed unnecessary force to someone who was not posing a threat.

posted by: HhE on October 23, 2013  11:10pm

passerby, YPD, not NHPD.

posted by: Ozzie on October 24, 2013  7:56am

@ Passerby from what the story says it was Yale Police and the NHPD.

[Editor: It was Yale police.]

posted by: disconnect on October 24, 2013  8:30am

passerby, why is a sting with a bait bike shame-worthy? I urge you to file a statement with the appropriate person(s) regarding what you saw; if the police were in fact using excessive force, then a light needs to be shined on that. But setting out a honeypot and watching for a bike thief is something I would 1000% applaud.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on October 24, 2013  8:39am

Wow, those are two VERY different accounts of the incident—the one “according to Yale Assistant Chief Steve Woznyk,” and the one from Passerby.

posted by: elmcityresident on October 24, 2013  9:04am

not really shocked about the excessive force..cops LOVE to do this regardless is the assailant poses any threat..thanks PASSERBY for your account i 100% believe yours ANY cop, cheif ect. they have to cover themselves.And i’ve seen shows where cops use “bait"bike and cars to arrest someone..also i’m not shocked someone was arrested in the UNIVERSITY area because it’s the UNIVERSITY gotta keep crime down around there to many wealthy kids at that college!

posted by: LadyERT on October 24, 2013  10:23am

@Gretchen- Yes, just as there were a number of conflicting stories about the teenage party at Kudeta. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

posted by: elmcityresident on October 24, 2013  11:06am

regarding Kudeta’s i know a two parents personal (both chaperoning) that was there and she said something TOTALLY never got reported that NHPD pepper sprayed the kids in the crowd..i also want to add that kudeta’s ALWAYS catered to the “hip-hop and r&b” crowd since its been open myself has been to past events there.

posted by: Nathan on October 24, 2013  11:37am

This is another example of how video recording would provide a more neutral story.  It’s time for high definition cameras in patrol cars and on some officers.  Didn’t the NHPD purchase a group of tazers without the video recording option?  Bad move given the number of videos that show their often reasonable (but not always) use.

posted by: WoosterStreetNeighbor on October 24, 2013  2:12pm

My money is on sting operation. That block consists entirely of two Yale colleges (Silliman and Timothy Dwight). Not only would Yale students lock their bikes inside their courtyard, even if they were to lock their bike on the street, they’d use a bike lock, not five feet of heavy-duty chain. No one else would have any reason to lock their bike on that section of Temple at all.

posted by: elmcityresident on October 24, 2013  2:28pm

personally i don’t care but they should treatment ALL thefts the same

posted by: breakingbad23 on October 24, 2013  3:48pm

Passerby is obviously making things up or mistaken. The photos in the article prove this. Passerby claims the man was just “looking at the bike and playing around with the chain”. In both pictures the bike is clearly removed from the pole with the chain wrapped around the frame. I guess the police officer who received treatment for facial injuries punched himself in the face or just had one of the other officers do it.

posted by: Trustme on October 24, 2013  6:47pm

Elmcityresident, I’ve gone out to downtown many times and besides pulse and lazy lizard, i saw plenty of fights outside Kudeta, but the crowd is usually a bit older. A few weeks ago, two young men who went to Kudeta’s were beat unconsciously down the street, both were lying on the ground motionless. In the past year I’ve seen at least 7 big fights outside Kudeta as I’m walking to my car, and when the cops arrive the club patrons fight the NHPD too.

posted by: Trustme on October 24, 2013  8:38pm

Well said breakingbad23.

posted by: nhpdbornandraised on October 26, 2013  2:38pm

Thank you for making those comments breakingbad23 and trustme…well said.