Wheelie, Then Death

Two blocks before he crashed a dirt bike and died, Tywan Richard “Ty Ty” Samuels was doing a wheelie. And there were no cops in sight.

The police Monday made available video footage to that effect in an effort to tamp down a viral social-media rumor.

At the 19-second mark in the above video, Samuels is seen riding a Yamaha dirt bike and doing the wheelie on Sherman Avenue around 9 p.m. on on July 21. He crashed two blocks later, and was subsequently pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 28 years old.

The video doesn’t capture the crash. Nor does it show any cops following behind Samuels.

That last point is crucial: Rumors spread on social media that police had engaged Samuels in a high-speed chase, leading to his death. Postings called for people to protest the cops as a result at public events.

The police department issued a statement this weekend asserting that crash investigators have found no evidence of any police pursuit or police presence, period.

“There is no pursuit. There is, in fact, no one at all behind Samuels prior to his losing control and striking the curb. Furthermore, Samuels is performing a wheelie, causing him to lose control as the road curves northbound,” police spokesman David Hartman wrote in a release. He added that Samuels had been riding an unregistered, uninsured stolen bike. Police ended up seizing illegal ATVs and dirt bikes and making two arrests at a vigil held for Samuels the night after crash.

Dirt-bikers have been endangering people’s safety in New Haven for years, especially in warm weather, leading to pressure on police to catch more of them in the act of tearing illegally down public streets. A less-discussed aspect of the controversy is the danger to the riders themselves. Like Samuels, 24-year-old veteran rider Leron Stone suffered permanent life-altering injuries after crashing his dirt bike while speeding down Grand Avenue in 2017. The above video captures the crash. (Warning: It contains disturbing images.)


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posted by: NHPLEB on August 7, 2018  6:18am

Why not ban the sale of dirt bikes and their operation in Connecticut altogether?  And why not enforce the law on the big,  fat chopper bikes with their noisy mufflers that keep folks awake at night.

And why don’t auto insurance companies add a rider that they will not cover accidents caused if their insured is riding a dirt bike ?

There are ways to curb behavior that the public finds disagreeable or inappropriate.  The majority finds dirt bikes and loud cycles disturbing and dangerous.

posted by: ShadowBoxer on August 7, 2018  6:32am

The bottom line is these riders are coddled, because they know no one will chase them.  As someone who lives downtown, I often see them flipping off cops, and terrorizing drivers.  If a middle aged man drove recklessly through the streets in a BMW, drunk, the cops would most definitely chase him.  This is a true scourge on the community, endangering lives, hurting business, causing incredible noise pollution given that the tall buildings downtown create sound caverns. 

The city should partner with UNH’s criminal justice program to devise creative solutions to this ongoing scourge.  I also think that boys who put loud pieces of metal between their legs, wanting others to stare there, are probably compensating for something missing.  And the idea that one of the drivers sued the city, because he fell off, and was a grown man of 28 years was disgraceful.  He cost the taxpayer money all over the place.

A city is no place for dirt bikes, and these miscreants should know that.

posted by: JCFremont on August 7, 2018  7:35am

Correct me if I am wrong but the original NHI article mentioned that the motorcycle “community” held a vigil blaming the crash on Police pursuit? That is the problem, Oh a “veteran” rider can’t manage to crash when acting irresponsibly? Here’s a question, how is another driver going to see you when your headlight is pointing in the sky at 9pm. Motorcycles are only as safe as the person controlling them.

posted by: narcan on August 7, 2018  8:07am

It’s ridiculous that police were NOT chasing someone recklessly riding and endangering everyone around them.

The idea that it is somehow the fault of the police when a criminal decides to force a pursuit to escape responsibility is a disgusting travesty that has been forced upon Connecticut by similar “communities” and civil court judgments. Now we all suffer for it daily.

posted by: wendy1 on August 7, 2018  8:19am


posted by: challenge on August 7, 2018  8:38am

How about we establish a safe place for dirt bike riders to ride. We have money for everything else deemed necessary and those taxpayers might find unnecessary. This article is about someone losing their life and all posters can talk about is what a nuisance riders are? Wow. Police actually made arrests while young people were gathered in mourning? Wow.It’s not difficult to understand why people feel their lives don’t matter. Shameful.

posted by: hartman on August 7, 2018  11:52am

Chase?! Don’t chase?! This issue goes far beyond what the police should (or shouldn’t) do. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Solution: Put it to a vote. All those in favor of the police chasing down these menace’s to society, regardless of the outcome, vote “yes”. All those in favor of the police letting these menace’s to society run roughshod over our city, regardless of the outcome, vote “no”. Then… when someone ends up dead, the only people ALLOWED to be blamed are those that voted that way - not the police, not the traffic department, not city government.

@ challenge, That’s a great idea, BUT… The riders seen recklessly performing and endangering pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, pogo-stick hoppers and motorists as they accelerate in and out of traffic are not ones for an abide-by-the-rules off road track. The thrill is the lawlessness. The thrill is yelling FU at the officers. The thrill is cowardly hiding behind masks as they pollute our city with their criminal behavior. This is hardly about a dedicated dirt-bike track.

Part of the solution could be the use of drones. Another, to require a photo ID when filling a gas can at the pump and a fine for the gas station attendant for the sale of gas to a non-registered vehicle operator (much like fining a bar for serving an underage patron). Yet another, criminal charges for the parent if the punk is under age.

posted by: Howudoin on August 7, 2018  12:33pm

Cops hands are tied. Time for the Mayor to step up and be assertive. What will happen when one of these clowns loses there bike and it goes into a sidewalk and kills a kid????
Unregistered uninsured unlicensed unemployed and yet untouchable

posted by: Mikelive on August 7, 2018  1:12pm

As usual someone posts up about giving the criminals a place to ride… I have an idea- get a license, save some money and buy a street legal dirt bike! Ride away! Take the muffler off just like all the other “legal” riders!

posted by: Sabrina-in-NewHaven on August 9, 2018  11:44am

One, the appeal of the ATV as a new toy for people who literally have decided they have nothing else to do in a small city is so typical. There are people who own ATVs and have the capacity to understand that one, it is not a toy. Two, you take your ATV outside out the city limits to a dirt area where other riders go and do your thing. And three, they are not for city streets.

No, we do not need a safe place for them to ride. If there was money in New Haven for anything it needs to go to restoring the schools they plan to close. I could give two sh——about the male ego and the need to have a loud vroom vroom toy.

Cops have been told not to engage. And that is exactly what happens. So while I’m actually to rest at night like those of who work and/or go to school, I am listening to some goon revving and racing up and down Ella T Grasso Blvd and Ellsworth Ave.