DRAMATIC VIDEO: Waterbury police release body camera footage from start of chase that injured 7 officers
Waterbury police have released dramatic body camera footage that shows the start of a multi-town chase that ended with seven police officers and the suspect in the hospital Sunday.
Hannah Casperson, 25, of Brookfield, was arraigned from St. Vincent's Medical Center Monday. Casperson is now charged with seven counts of assault on a police officer, three counts of criminal attempt at assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, failure to insure a private vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to obey a stop sign, improper turn signal, failure to drive in the proper lane, evading responsibility, engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving and traveling unreasonably fast. Bond was set at $750,000.
The incident began around 8:45 a.m. Sunday after police say they got a tip that Casperson, who was wanted in connection to 41 car break-ins in Wolcott Friday, was parked on Rutledge Street, which is dead-end. The body camera footage shows an officer walking up to her white Hummer after horizontally parking his cruiser at the intersection of East Main Street to block her in. He tries to open her car door, which appears to be locked, then says, "I got the street blocked. You're not going anywhere."
The SUV takes off anyway with the officer running after it. The video shows it slamming into the officer's car and driving up on the side of it. The officer draws his gun and can be heard shouting at the suspect multiple times to stop, but the driver continues to crash into the cruiser until there's room to get through, then takes off with the tires squealing.
"There came a point in time when this officer's life was in jeopardy," said Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo at a news conference Monday afternoon. "He drew his weapon. He had the fortitude, he had the stamina not to use deadly physical force although he was faced with deadly physical force, and I commend that officer's actions."
Police said Casperson went on to hit another responding police cruiser at Brass Mill Way in Waterbury, leading police on a pursuit that ended in Monroe around 9:15 a.m. Police say Casperson made a U-turn on Monroe Turnpike, hitting several police cars. She then lost control, veered off the road and hit a telephone pole. Police said Casperson got out and tried to run, but police took her into custody. Police said the Hummer is owned by one of Casperson’s family members.
Spagnolo said eight police cruisers were hit in the case with damages totaling $135,000.
"Seven of the eight officers ended up in the hospital with injuries ranging from neck strains, lower back strains, multiple contusions, knee contusions, wrist and hand contusions -- all sustained from the accident from air bags going off," Spagnolo said.
Casperson also ended up in the hospital with a broken femur and dislocated hip.
Police had been on the lookout for her since Friday in connection to more than three dozen vehicle break-ins early that morning at two complexes in Wolcott. In each, the car's window was smashed. Wolcott police arrested her alleged accomplice, Thomas Crawford, 31, of Naugatuck, that day at a supermarket. They said Crawford had a cartload of meat they believe he was intending to steal. Casperson allegedly was with him, saw police arrive and took off.
Crawford was charged with 41 counts each of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny, and criminal mischief. Wolcott police said Casperson would be charged with the same.
"We believe that they both have a significant drug problem," Spagnolo told reporters at the news conference.
He also said both are suspected in various thefts around the greater Waterbury area over the past month and additional charges against Casperson and Crawford are pending.
Casperson has two outstanding arrest warrants. Court records also show a pending case out of Danbury Superior Court for interfering with an officer/resisting arrest from an incident on Nov. 21, 2021. She pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and failure to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on Nov. 23, 2011. Casperson received six months in jail, which was suspended in lieu of 18 months of probation.