'The guy that was always smiling.' Hartford officer killed in crash caused by teen fleeing traffic stop, police say
A Hartford police officer is dead, and another was seriously injured after police say a 18-year-old drove through multiple red lights and slammed into their cruiser.
Officer Robert "Bobby" Garten, 34, was an eight-year veteran with the Hartford Police Department and a second-generation officer at the department.
Police say other city officers had pulled over Richard Barrington for a traffic violation. They say Barrington sped off as officers reached his car. Police did not pursue but they say Barrington blew through two red lights as he fled, his Honda Accord striking the marked Hartford Police cruiser with Garten and officer Brian Kearney inside.
Police say Barrington has been arrested and his bail has been set at $1 million.
Both officers were taken to Saint Francis Hospital. Garten was pronounced dead, and Kearney is currently listed in stable but guarded condition.
"He was the guy that was always smiling. Really loved the work when he got on the job. Was one of those officers that wanted to excel and do different things," Chief Jason Thody said. "He spent a lot of time here....This is what he talked about his job, he was a great leader."
Gov. Ned Lamont has directed all U.S. and state flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff.
"Officer Garten dedicated his life and his career to public safety, and we salute his courage, integrity, and commitment to the people of our capital city. I urge the residents of Connecticut to keep Officer Garten's family and the Hartford Police Department in their prayers," Lamont said in a statement.
Police departments across Connecticut have taken to social media to offer their condolences to the city of Hartford.
Hartford police have asked Connecticut State Police to lead the investigation. Connecticut State Police's Colonel Stavros Mellekas said in a statement that read in part, "Our Troopers are available to assist Hartford Police Department with whatever they may need during this difficult time."