Smith & Wesson Came To A “Banger” Bash

Paul Bass PhotoOfficer Michael Haines knew gang members planned to hold a party in Newhallville. He knew rival gang members might show up. But he didn’t know exactly where.

He needed to find out. Or else someone might get shot.

The party was scheduled for a recent Tuesday night. A gangbanger known as Loopy was hosting. The police department’s intelligence unit caught wind of that party. Detectives learned that four or so members of a violent Newhallville gang known alternatively as West Read Street and Starr Block planned to attend. They also had reason to believe that the party plan was well known and members of competing gangs might show up, according to department intelligence chief Sgt. Karl Jacobson.

Jacobson forwarded the word to top Newhallville cop Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur. The afternoon of the party, Abdussabur summoned beat officers, including Haines, to the corner of Lilac and Newhall streets at the start of the 3-11 B shift. He told them they had to find out about this party, and check it out.

Haines generally patrols State Street these days. (The policing district includes Newhallville, East Rock, and Cedar Hill.) But he has spent a lot of time patrolling Newhallville, and amassed a roster of trusted citizen confidantes over that time. As soon as the Lilac-Newhall huddle broke, Haines phoned three of those confidantes.

He asked where the party was. They weren’t sure. He got one address on Newhall Street. He got a different address, also on Newhall Street.

It was sounding like a block on Newhall Street.

Cora Lewis FIle PhotoHaines, who is 29 and grew up in Fairfield and Bridgeport, has a knack for encountering trouble and solving it. In four-and-a-half years as a New Haven cop, he has, along with a former partner, wrestled a loaded Ruger handgun from a gangbanger and shot dead a vicious dog that was attacking him. He escaped serious injuries. He may or may not have a guardian angel hovering above him, but he does have a tattoo of two angels on his right bicep.

By 10:25 p.m., Haines’s shift was nearing its end. No sign of the party. He and another officer were responding to a minor argument about parking at the corner of Newhall and Read streets. It was about time to head to headquarters to turn in his keys for the night.

As the dispute call was wrapping up, without the need for an arrest, Haines noticed people starting to gather down the street on Newhall. It was turning into a crowd, on the block where the party was expected.

Haines hopped into his patrol car and drove toward the crowd. Ahead he saw a black Buick Regal parked way out into a traffic lane. Young men, in their teens or early 20s, exited the car. Haines recognized them as gang players, he said.

The driver returned to the wheel. By now a couple of dozen people were on the porch and on the street.

Haines approached the Buick on foot. He saw Philly Blunt wrappers inside. He caught a whiff of weed.

“We’re going to have a party,” the driver told Haines.

Haines asked the driver for his license. The driver didn’t have one. He had a learner’s permit. And he had no licensed driver with him.

Haines asked for insurance. The driver had no insurance.

“Listen,” Haines recalled asking the driver, “do you have anything in the car I should know about?”

Suddenly the driver started shaking. He was visibly sweating.

“Listen,” the driver responded. “It’s my brother’s car. I don’t know what’s in it.”

Haines asked the driver to step out of the car. He patted down the man. The driver, who “kept looking inside the car,” had no contraband on him.

Haines searched the car next. He spotted a white mesh Beats headphones case with a “big lump” in it. “I didn’t know if it was drugs. I didn’t know what it was.”

He looked inside. It was a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver with five bullets in it.

The driver had no permit for the gun.

Other officers had arrived. They called for someone to photograph the scene before having the car towed and the gun taken into evidence.

The crowd had grown. Haines found out that Loopy’s aunt rents the apartment where the party was planned. He spoke with her. She told him that she had understood that a few friends of her nephew were planning to hang out. She did not authorize a party, Haines recalled being told.

“Listen,” Haines then told the crowd. “There’s no party going on tonight.”

And they dispersed. There was no party that night.

Haines arrested the driver, who is 20 years old, on a variety of weapons and motor vehicle charges. Two are felonies. The driver has yet to enter a plea.

“It stopped a shooting,” intelligence chief Jacobson said of Haines’ arrest.

District Manager Abdussabur praised Haines for solving a problem the right way, in the style of community policing.

David Yaffe-Bellany Photo“It may not be as exciting as a car chase or a foot chase,” Abdussabur said, but it’s the way he wants his cops to patrol: making car stops based on real information, rather than randomly harassing people; amassing information by building trust with people in the neighborhood rather than chasing after people because they might look suspicious and then locking them up for the sixth or seventh time on minor charges. He wants officers spending as much time chatting with and handing out candy to kids as writing tickets.

“Officers shut down a teen party that has the potential to end in gunfire. Somebody’s child doesn’t even know. Officers were able to do it under cover of darkness. The community didn’t even have to wake from their sleep,” Abdussabur said. “That’s beautiful. That’s what it’s about.”

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

Shafiq Abdussabur
Craig Alston & Billy White Jr.
Joseph Aurora
James Baker
Lloyd Barrett
Pat Bengston & Mike Valente
Elsa Berrios
Manmeet Bhagtana (Colon)
Paul Bicki
Paul Bicki (2)
Sheree Biros
Scott Branfuhr
Bridget Brosnahan
Craig Burnett & Orlando Crespo
Keron Bryce and Steve McMorris
Keron Bryce and Osvaldo Garcia
Keron Bryce and Osvaldo Garcia (2)
Dennis Burgh
Anthony Campbell
Darryl Cargill & Matt Wynne
Elizabeth Chomka & Becky Fowler
Rob Clark & Joe Roberts
Sydney Collier
Carlos Conceicao
Carlos Conceicao (2)
Carlos Conceicao and Josh Kyle
David Coppola
Mike Criscuolo
Steve Cunningham and Timothy Janus
Roy Davis
Joe Dease
Milton DeJesus
Milton DeJesus (2)
Rose Dell
Brian Donnelly
Anthony Duff
Robert DuPont
Jeremie Elliott and Scott Shumway
Jeremie Elliott (2)
Jose Escobar Sr.
Bertram Ettienne
Bertram Ettienne (2)
Martin Feliciano & Lou DeCrescenzo
Paul Finch
Jeffrey Fletcher
Renee Forte
Marco Francia
Michael Fumiatti
William Gargone
William Gargone & Mike Torre
Derek Gartner
Derek Gartner & Ryan Macuirzynski
Tom Glynn & Matt Williams
Jon Haddad & Daniela Rodriguez
Michael Haines & Brendan Borer
Michael Haines & Brendan Borer (2)
Dan Hartnett
Ray Hassett
Robert Hayden
Patricia Helliger
Robin Higgins
Ronnell Higgins
William Hurley & Eddie Morrone
Derek Huelsman
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
Reggie McGlotten
Steve McMorris
Juan Monzon
Monique Moore and David Santiago
Matt Myers
Carlos and Tiffany Ortiz
Tiffany Ortiz
Chris Perrone
Joseph Perrotti
Ron Perry
Joe Pettola
Diego Quintero and Elvin Rivera
Ryan Przybylski
Stephanie Redding
Tony Reyes
David Rivera
Luis & David Rivera
Luis Rivera (2)
Salvador Rodriguez
Salvador Rodriguez (2)
Brett Runlett
David Runlett
Betsy Segui & Manmeet Colon
Allen Smith
Marcus Tavares
Martin Tchakirides
David Totino
Stephan Torquati
Gene Trotman Jr.
* Elisa Tuozzoli
Kelly Turner
Lars Vallin (& Xander)
Dave Vega & Rafael Ramirez
Earl Reed
Daophet Sangxayarath & Jessee Buccaro
Herb Sharp
Jess Stone
Arpad Tolnay
John Velleca
Manuella Vensel
Holly Wasilewski
Holly Wasilewski (2)
Alan Wenk
Stephanija VanWilgen
Elizabeth White & Allyn Wright
Matt Williams
Michael Wuchek
Michael Wuchek (2)
David Zannelli
Cailtin Zerella
Caitlin Zerella (2)
Caitlin Zerella, Derek Huelsman, David Diaz, Derek Werner, Nicholas Katz, and Paul Mandel
David Zaweski

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Josiah Brown on August 12, 2016  5:53pm

Compliments to Officer Mike Haines (and his colleagues) on this well-deserved recognition.

Some neighbors and I recently had occasion to meet him when he and Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur, among others, thoughtfully joined us for a block party.  Officer Haines made an excellent impression and demonstrated a particular rapport with the children who were in attendance.  He, and the sergeant, inspire confidence; our city needs to champion law enforcement officers like these individuals.

The “cop of the week” series is one of the New Haven Independent’s many strengths, along with investigative reporting and, more broadly, a community orientation with a capacity for sustained follow-up.  Let’s support independent, and Independent, journalism.

posted by: Conscience on August 14, 2016  11:30am

This man is a genuine hero and so is Office Shaffiq. The great majority of cops are like him and we should take that into consideration before making generalizations about our officers. As far as reduced crime rates are concerned they have nothing to do with Phony Harp and Chief Esserman. Esserman deserves our sympathy and should leave. Harp should be recalled based on the way she is “leading” the city. She is the worse mistake i ever voted for. Wishing that Paolillo or Looney would run in the next election. If we have more years of Harp, Esserman, and Harries, our city is doomed.

posted by: EPDP on August 15, 2016  8:38am

This is a perfect example of why riots are breaking out across this country.  Officer Haines didn’t have probably cause to tell the driver to get out of the car merely because of a “whiff of weed.”  Pot is legal in this State.  Unless Haines was a Federal officer, he had no right to have this 20 year old guy exit the car to be searched and questioned.  Just because there were “known gang members” in the area also does not give the police the right to engage in random searches.  The cops found a gun on the guy, big deal, the streets of New Haven are flooded with guns.  Haines should have kept the gun and let the guy go and given him a second chance.  Now this kid is going to be forced to plead out to a felony and his life will be ruined.  Haines just created an angry young man. If the cops didn’t want the party to occur, they should have had a few police cars patrolling the area, spoke with the residents, and built up some good will in the neighborhood.  Instead they arrest a young kid under the pretext of a “whiff of weed” and charge him with multiple felonies.  And the cops wonder why nobody in the Hood will rat out gang members.

posted by: William Kurtz on August 15, 2016  10:42am


I wonder if we read the same story:

Haines asked the driver for his license. The driver didn’t have one. He had a learner’s permit. And he had no licensed driver with him.

Haines asked for insurance. The driver had no insurance.

Sounds reasonable grounds for impounding the car to me.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on August 15, 2016  10:47am

Since “the streets of New Haven are flooded with guns”, as you put it, how would Haines [keeping] the gun and let[ting] the guy go and giv[ing] him a second chance” accomplish anything other than providing the suspect with another opportunity to immediately go illegally purchase another gun off the street? For what legitimate purpose would someone conceal a gun in a headphones case without a permit in a car without a driver’s license or registration?? And what would the officer do with the gun he confiscated without a suspect? Would he lie and say it was turned into him anonymously? Would he lie and say he recovered the gun from a fleeing suspect that got away from him? How would the NHPD inventory the gun under those circumstances?

You’re kidding, right?

posted by: EPDP on August 15, 2016  11:57am

Confiscating an old 6 shooter hardly constitutes “stopping a shooting.”  But if the cops want to pat themselves on the back for stopping a shooting, who am I to argue?  In this case Haines could have been the cause of a shooting.  Pulling a guy out of his car for no reason other than he was invited to a “gang party” is not probable cause.  This would never happen in Morris Cove, East Rock or Westville.  Unless there are New Haven police rules to the contrary, cops generally have the discretion to give a guy a warning and let him go.  If that 20 year old kid ran from Officer Haines and Haines shot him, there would be riots, exactly what happened in Milwaukee last night.  If that young kid was given a second chance, it is possible he would have realized that he dodged a bullet, and learned something.  But to charge him with felonies for the possession of an old gun will guarantee that he will have trouble getting into school, getting a job, etc…, and will guarantee that he will harbor hostility and anger towards law enforcement.  You can lock him for a few years for this incident, and when he gets out he will be a much worse criminal than he is now.  I know, I was locked up in Federal prison for 18 months.
Larry Noodles.

posted by: PlbaderNH on August 17, 2016  12:03am

Bravo Officer Haines!  Great Police work. Who knows what type of tragedy your actions may have precluded. I’m sure that all citizens of New Haven appreciate what you. Wish you all the best for the balance of your career.