Police: Officer injured; guns, drugs recovered after West Haven illegal dirt bike, ATV 'street takeover'
A West Haven police officer is recovering Monday following an altercation with a dirt bike operator who allegedly took part in an illegal street takeover Sunday.
"Yesterday around 5:45 p.m., we received several 911 calls of a large contingent of dirt bikes, ATVs and motor vehicles entering our city from Woodmont Road," Sgt. Patrick Buturla said. "Approximate number was over 400 reported to us."
Buturla said two dirt bikes collided on Morgan Lane soon after the initial reports came in. He said the responding officers were able to apprehend one of the dirt bike operators, Hector Vasquez, 25, of New Jersey, without incident.
"Located on his person was a firearm inside his crossbody bag," Buturla said.
Buturla said when officers tried to detain the second operator, Brian Dejesus-Melendez, 31, of New York, he became combative.
"After a significant struggle, he was taken into custody and also was in possession of a firearm in his bag as well as an undisclosed amount of narcotics," Buturla said.
Buturla said Dejesus-Melendez' 9mm Ruger had a full magazine, adding oxycontin pills were found in a small container on his person. He said both men didn't have pistol permits.
Buturla said a sergeant's shoulder was injured during the altercation. The sergeant has been released from the hospital and will be out of work indefinitely, Buturla said.
"On a personal side, it's quite frustrating to see anybody hurt, especially the one who is with you working," Buturla said.
Kim-Marie Mullin, the Connecticut GOP District 14 representative, said she was at a West Haven Republicans meeting nearby and witnessed the events.
"I think there just has to be harsher penalties," Mullin said. "I think legislators have to look at this as a serious issue and not dismiss it."
Mullin called the so-called street takeovers taking place across the state this summer a "new normal."
"We really want to have a conversation again and revisit the police accountability bill, which is tying the hands of the police officers and they're unable to do their job right now," Mullin said. "That's why, in my opinion, a lot of this is happening and it's only getting worse."
Buturla said while the department is thankful illegal guns have been recovered, and that no one else was injured, unlawful acts will not be tolerated and will be addressed.
"This investigation is nowhere near over," Buturla said. "We have plenty of video evidence, pictures of the incident itself. We're looking to make further apprehensions, if possible."
Vasquez and Dejesus-Melendez were arraigned in Milford Superior Court Monday. Vasquez is charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, reckless driving and failure to insure a motor vehicle. Dejesus-Melendez is charged with interfering with an officer, criminal possession of a pistol revolver, carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of a controlled substance, failure to insure a motor vehicle and failure to display plates.