A 36-year-old East Haven man, who allegedly rammed a Branford police officer’s cruiser as he was fleeing a parking lot in his car following a tire theft at Al Mac Motors II, was taken into custody Wednesday on an arrest warrant, police said.
The tire theft took place on July 5 at the tire store, at 117 North Main St. According to Branford Detective Lieutenant John Finkle, the suspect, identified as Janssen Padilla of East Haven, was driving his gray Jeep Cherokee when he rammed into the officer’s cruiser as it was entering the parking lot.
Branford police pursued the Jeep for several miles and obtained a detailed description of the car before losing it in traffic. The police then ended the chase. The description of the vehicle was distributed to other law enforcement agencies.
The following day, an alert East Haven police officer stopped the gray Jeep Cherokee, the one believed to be used in the July 5 incident. The officer said the damage on the vehicle was consistent with the damage to the Branford police cruiser. The vehicle East Haven police stopped was operated by Padilla.
Padilla was also identified by a Branford police officer as being the suspect in the July 5 tire theft. At that point the Branford police sought a warrant for his arrest.
Padilla has a prior criminal record for illegal possession of a weapon; he was sentenced in May to five years in jail, a sentence that was suspended. Instead Padilla was placed on probation, which he was on at the time of his arrest Wednesday.
In the current case, Padilla was held on a court set bond of $100,000. He was charged with assault on a police officer, a felony, engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving and operating a vehicle with a suspended license. He was arraigned in New Haven Superior Court yesterday on these charges.