MERIDEN — The state’s investigation of an officer-involved shooting in October is expected to be completed soon.
New Haven state’s attorney Patrick J. Griffin said this week he is waiting for a final report from state police, including ballistics testing. Griffin added he has “a fairly high degree of confidence we will wrap (the investigation) soon.”
The amount of time it takes to investigate officer-involved shootings depends on the complexity of the case, Griffin said. It can take investigators upwards of 12 to 18 months to complete an investigation in some cases, while other investigations can wrap up in a matter of weeks. It is standard procedure for state police and prosecutors to investigate when a municipal officer fires a gun.
“It’s a balance because, on one hand, you want it done quickly so the community and everyone involved knows what happened, but on the other hand, you want it done right,” Griffin said.
An investigation by Fairfield State’s Attorney John Smriga into a December 2017 fatal officer-involved shooting was just released earlier this month, while an investigation by New Britain State’s Attorney Brian Preleski of a February 2018 shooting was released in December.
The shooting in Meriden occurred Oct. 18 around 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of CVS Pharmacy on East Main Street. Undercover officers in the city’s Crime Suppression Unit shot and injured city resident Ryan Holley, who was armed at the time, after following Holley’s 1999 Buick Century in an unmarked SUV for several miles.
While following Holley, police observed a gun discharge inside his car. Holley, a registered gun owner with no criminal history, said he accidentally fired his gun while trying to steer his car. The round went through his front windshield, in the opposite direction of the unmarked police vehicle, which was trailing behind Holley’s car on the driver’s side at the time, according to Holley, who has not been charged in the case.
The three officers who fired shots at Holley were Michael Fonda, Ben Pellegrini, and John-Paul Dorais, according to City Manager Tim Coon. The officers were placed on administrative duty following the incident, but Police Chief Jeffry Cossette later returned them to regular duty in December at the recommendation of the State’s Attorney’s Office. Cossette didn’t return a request for comment this week.
Cossette has previously said the five officers in the unmarked SUV began following Holley as “part of an observation or an investigation,” but declined to elaborate because state police are investigating.
Holley, who is black, alleged in a prior interview that police racially profiled him and a co-worker, who is also black. Cossette called the claim “ridiculous” and said the situation “severely escalated” when officers witnessed the gun discharge in Holley’s car.
Holley said he picked the co-worker up in front of St. Joseph Church on Goodwill Avenue on his way to work at LaserShip’s courier facility on Research Parkway. Police followed Holley’s car for several miles beginning on West Main Street and onto Lewis Avenue, Interstate 691 and Route 15, where Holley exited onto East Main Street and pulled into the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy.
Holley said the officers did not identify themselves before arriving at the CVS parking lot. Holley said he pulled his gun out of his glove compartment because he feared for his life while being followed by the unmarked car.
City officials have previously said they want to wait for the investigation to conclude before commenting and Holley couldn’t be reached for comment this week.
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