Medical Records Key To Cop Shootout Case

Thomas Breen photoDetectives are pouring through over 600 pages of medical records as they seek to prove that a chainlink fence — rather than a large, armed, unidentified assailant — was the source of a hand injury on a man accused of shooting at city police.

That investigatory priority came to light thanks a search warrant obtained in the case of Marcus Rivera, a 22-year-old New Havener whom the state has charged with one felony count of carrying a pistol without a permit in relation to a Kimberly Square shootout and foot chase with local police on Jan. 8. (More charges are expected in the case.)

On Jan. 28, state Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford signed the search warrant. The affidavit for the warrant was written by state Dets. Michael Beauton and Christopher Allegro.

The warrant requests the complete medical records pertaining to Rivera’s treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) following the chase and shootout, which saw Rivera allegedly shoot at city police, get shot in the abdomen by Det. Francisco Sanchez, and then undergo two rounds of surgery.

The new warrant also references a Jan. 15 video-recorded police interview in which Rivera stated that he was robbed by a large, armed, unidentified man as he fled from city cops earlier this month.

That story doesn’t jibe with what state police have concluded happened. In the new search warrant affidavit, Beauton and Allegro cite a surveillance video obtained from a neighboring residence that they say shows Rivera climbing over a chainlink fence in order to evade the pursuing cops.

“A review of the medical records will determine if Rivera’s wounds are from the discharge and struggle over the firearm,” Beauton and Allegro write, “or from scaling a metal chainlink fence while fleeing from the police.”

Beauton and Allegro ultimately got their hands on the relevant YNHH medical records. All 682 pages of them.

What they find will likely be heard next month at Rivera’s next scheduled court date.

During a brief procedural hearing on Tuesday in Clifford’s sixth-floor courtroom at 235 Church St. , Rivera reversed his prior decision to hire a private attorney. He instead applied for representation by a public defender.

“You wanted time to hire a private attorney,” Clifford said on Tuesday, referencing Rivera’s earlier request during when in court on Jan. 22. “Obviously, I don’t see a private attorney. So you’ve made an application for the public defender, sir?”

“Yes, your honor,” Rivera replied. Going forward, he’ll be represented by Public Defender Beth Merkin. Rivera has entered a pro forma non-guilty please to the charge.

Three Cellphones, Crack, And A .380 Caliber Handgun

Since Rivera’s arrest on Jan. 8, Clifford has signed off on five search warrants and one arrest warrant pertaining to the case. The Jan. 9 arrest warrant, written by Beauton, lays out the basic facts of the case as understood by state police:

State police saw Rivera enter Sam’s Food Store on Kimberly Avenue on the afternoon of Jan. 8. Since Rivera is a suspect in a separate New Haven shooting from December and since he also allegedly led state police on a high-speed car chase through multiple municipalities in December, city officers pursued him when they saw him in Kimberly Square. Rivera ran, wrestled with Sanchez and Det. Thomas Glynn in a Greenwich Avenue driveway, allegedly shot at the officers and then was shot in the abdomen by Sanchez, and was found hiding in a bush, with no pants and jacket, on First Avenue.

Four search warrants prepared by Beauton and signed by Clifford on Jan. 9 reiterate the facts as described in the arrest warrant. The four search warrants are for properties at 451 Greenwich Ave., 332 Howard Ave., 445-447 Greenwich Ave., and 77 First St., all of which Rivera ran through during the chase and shootout.

At 332 Howard Ave., state police found a Davis Industries Model P-380 .380 caliber handgun with a five-round magazine loaded with three rounds and a chambered round of “Wolf 380 Auto” ammunition.

At 77 First St., police found two copper jacketed projectiles, a black puffy jacket with Newport cigarettes and half of a bottle of Hennessey in its pockets, a Samsung cellphone, a LG flip-style cellphone, a clear plastic bag containing individually wrapped off-white colored rocks believed to be crack cocaine, a pair of Gap blue jeans with a black leather belt, a hooded sweatshirt, and $154 in case. Cops also picked up a USB drive with video surveillance footage from the First Street property.

And at 445-447 Greenwich Ave., state police found six steel cartridge casings, one black ZTE cellphone, and one gray cellphone.

Armed Assailant Or Chainlink Fence?

The fifth search warrant, prepared by Beauton and Allegro and signed by Clifford on Jan. 28, provides an updated statement of facts pertaining to what Rivera said happened that night during a subsequent interview with the police.

That warrant, which requests the entirety of Rivera’s YNHH medical records related to care received after the chase and shootout, note that state police interviewed Rivera on Jan. 15 after he was released from the hospital following his two surgeries.

During that interview, Beauton and Allegro write, Rivera stated he ran from the police on Jan. 8 because he knew he was wanted for fleeing from state troopers during a December traffic stop (more on that below.)

Rivera also told the police that he was under the influence of alcohol and was also high on “speedballs,” a mix of heroin and cocain, on the night of the Jan. 8 chase.

“During Rivera’s interview he stated to detectives that he was struck in the head by pursuing officers,” the two detectives write, “and that his memory was cloudy after being hit.” He told the detectives that he ran down a Greenwich Avenue driveway after wrestling with Sanchez, and that he head someone shout, “Police, Freeze!” as he was running.

Rivera then told Beauton and Allegro that, in the backyard of the Greenwich Avenue property, he ran into someone he described as a six-foot, two-inch, 150-pound black male.

“Rivera stated that the black male pulled out a firearm,” Beauton and Allegro write, “which he described to be shinny [sp.] and possibly a 45. Rivera stated that he reached out and grabbed the pistol with his right hand. Rivera stated that as he grabbed the pistol it went off, causing a wound on the palm of his right hand. Rivera stated that he then ran away from that individual and that he did not have the gun which had been pulled on him.”

Rivera told the detectives he didn’t remember what happened between the attempted robbery and when police found him, with no pants and jacket on, hiding in a bush on First Street.

Only Drinking Hennessey

The detectives write that Rivera’s account is inconsistent with other evidence police have gathered about what happened on that night.

While he was being transported to the hospital for treatment to the gun wound in his abdomen, the detectives write, Rivera told paramedics that he was not under the influence of any narcotics. He said he had only been drinking Hennessey.

“Having access to these [medical] records will enable investigators to obtain a more accurate account of Rivera’s mental status on the night of January 8th, 2019,” they write, “and will aid in determining if drug and or alcohol use was a contributing factor in Rivera’s outrageous conduct.”

The investigators also note the inconsistency in Rivera’s claim that the wound to his right hand came from grabbing a firearm as it discharged.

“Investigators observed Rivera on residential surveillance footage scaling a metal chain link fence bared handed,” they write, “at the top of the fence there are twisted metal links that come to a point. Investigators believe these points at the top of the fence are what caused Rivera’s injury to his right hand.”

The state police also note that a review of Rivera’s medical records will determine the veracity of Rivera’s claim that he was shot in the back by police.

“Surgical records will also be documented in Rivera’s records,” they write. “This information will likely contain professional medical review of said GSW [gunshot wound] and will either refute or support claims that Rivera was shot in the back (i.e. Entry / exit wound).”

December Car Chase

While the state has still filed only one charge against Rivera pertaining to this case, with that charge being the felony count of carrying a handgun without a permit, for which Rivera is being held on $750,000 bond, the state has also charged with several misdemeanors related to the high-speed car chase he allegedly led state cops on in December.

The Independent’s review of the arrest warrant associated with those charges revealed that Rivera was not pulled over by state cops on Dec. 20 because they recognized him as a suspect in a separate shooting in New Haven from Dec. 19. (Though, Beauton asserts in the Jan. 9 arrest warrant, Rivera is indeed a suspect in that case.)

Rather, the arrest warrant, written by state Trooper Allen Currier, notes that police pulled Rivera over for making an illegal left turn from the center lane while driving in West Haven. And the 22-year-old New Havener ultimately fled the traffic stop after Currier suspected Rivera was high on marijuana, asked him to get out of the car, and then tried to break the car’s driver-seat window when Rivera filed to exit the vehicle and reached for something in the center counsel.

Rivera ultimated led the trooper on a 12-minute, nearly 10-mile car chase through West Haven and New Haven.

The warrant states that Currier was traveling on Saw Mill Road in West Haven on the afternoon of Dec. 20 when he saw a red sedan make a left turn from the center, straight-only lane onto I-95, thereby cutting off several cars already in the left lane.

Currier activated his police car’s emergency lights and sirens, and pulled over the vehicle.

“Once at the passenger side of the vehicle,” he writes, “I could immediately detect the odor of Marijuana, which i recognized through my training and experience, emanating from inside the vehicle.” A man, who proved to be Rivera, was driving the car, while a young woman sat in the passenger seat.

Rivera told the officer that he was rushing because his baby’s mom was at Yale giving birth. “I was not able to confirm this statement,” Currier writes.

He said that Rivera became “extremely defensive” when Currier questioned him about the smell of marijuana in the car, stating that he wasn’t responsible for the smell. He said Rivera looked around the car between his seat and the center counsel, which the trooper found suspicious.

“I told Rivera a small amount of marijuana is a minor infraction and that I was just giving him an opportunity to tell me if there was anything inside the car,” Currier writes. He said Rivera continued to be “defensive.”

State Trooper Robert Garbalosa then arrived, and Currier filled him in on what had happened. Currier told Rivera that he intended to search the vehicle, and asked him to exit the vehicle.

When Rivera didn’t comply, Currier asked Rivera again to exit the vehicle and also tried to open the locked driver-side door.

“I immediately saw him reaching with his right hand towards the space between his seat and the center counsel,” Currier said. “I used my expandable baton in an attempt to break the window out and remove Rivera from the vehicle for officer safety issues, not knowing what he was reaching for, however the window did not break.”

Instead, Rivera put the car into drive, and sped north on I-95.

“The vehicle was using all three lands and even the right shoulder at one point,” Currier writes. Rivera cut across all four lanes and got off the highway at Exit 46. Currier existed the highway in pursuit, though Garbalosa was not able to make it to the exit in time and stayed on the highway.

Rivera drove up Long Wharf Drive, turned left on Sargent Drive, and then turned right onto Howard Avenue, all the while going upwards of 50 miles per hour. He crossed the solid double yellow line to pass a box truck on Howard, and made a left onto Lamberton Street, going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Rivera wound his way to First and Campbell Avenue, still driving at upwards of 55 miles per hour, cut through a 7-11 parking lot, and turned onto Terrace Avenue, where a West Haven cruiser joined the pursuit.

“Speeds on Terrace Ave reached 80 mph,” Currier writes, “and knowing this is a mostly residential area I slowed down significantly but could still see the vehicle up ahead of me which I now noticed, had turned off all it lights.”

With several West Haven cruisers now joined in the pursuit, Rivera drove across several parking lots on the University of New Haven campus,  and then ended up on Norfolk Street, which is a dead-end street.

“Rivera’s reckless driving while attempting to flee created a risk of physical injury,” the trooper writes, “to the general motoring public as well as his female passenger.”

At the end of the dead end street, Currier existed his cruiser and pursued the two passengers on foot. In a playground set in the backyard of one of the Norfolk Street homes, Currier noticed legs hanging down from a fully enclosed slide, and ordered the person out at gunpoint. It was the female passenger who had been in the car with Rivera.

The trooper wasn’t able to locate Rivera, nor did he find any marijuana, guns, or other contraband in the abandoned car. The car itself belonged to one of Rivera’s friends, who had lent him the car for the afternoon.

In regards to the pursuit, the state has charged Rivera with interfering with an officer, second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless operation, engaging police in pursuit, improper passing, failure to maintain a proper lane, and driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

Rivera has entered pro forma non-guilty pleas to all charges.

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posted by: 1644 on February 8, 2019  7:03pm

NHI reporting on this case has been inconsistent and unclear.  Was Rivera shot in the pelvis or the stomach? Was the handgun recovered by state or NHPD police?