WATERBURY, Conn. — Seven Waterbury police officers are on workers' compensation after suffering injuries while trying to stop a 25-year-old Brookfield woman fleeing in a Hummer on Sunday.
Hannah Casperson, 25, was wanted in connection to 41 car break-ins at a senior living and condo complex in Wolcott last week.
Monroe police said Casperson was arraigned at St. Vincent’s Hospital Monday. She is charged with seven counts of assault on a public safety officer, three counts of criminal attempt at assault on a public safety officer, first-degree reckless endangerment and interfering with an officer among other charges. She is held on a court set $750,000 bond and was turned over to the Department of Corrections.
Thomas Crawford, 31, was taken into custody Friday for his alleged role in the break-ins and appeared in court Monday.
Waterbury Chief Fernando Spagnolo believes the two have a drug problem. He said they have been connected to crimes in and outside the city for a month.
The 41 break-ins Friday happened in the early morning, Wolcott Chief Edward Stephens said.
One of the victims was Walter Cortes. He said he thought he left his window down when walking to his vehicle, then saw there was glass surrounding the car.
“I was able to get someone to come and fix it the same day and you can see all the other cars are still bandaged,” he said. “I’ve lived here 10 years and we’ve never had any problem here.”
The Wolcott chief said there’s no indication the suspects knew the buildings were senior living and condos but rather saw an opportunity with many vehicles parked outside.
They found the two at a local grocery store later that day. Casperson fled and police followed her for some minutes. Chief Stephens said it was not considered a violent crime at that moment, which is why they did not pursue her longer. He said they knew who they were looking for and the task was tracking them down.
Crawford, of Naugatuck, was arrested. He was trying to purchase meat to likely sell, the chief said when asked. The chief said Crawford admitted to the crime and said he did not try to open the car doors out of fear the alarm would trigger. They say a hole puncher and glass were found in his pocket.
Carl, who did not want to share his last name, witnessed that police pursuit with Casperson on Friday. He lives at the complex where the break-ins occurred but was not a victim.
“I heard a lot of commotion out of my back bedroom window so I knew something was going on but I had no idea,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy. It’s a safe place. You’re right here by the highway. That night had been raining and dark and everything else.”
Carl and Cortes say they thought more than two people would have been responsible due to the number of vehicles involved. Police were able to use footage from a Ring camera to identify the suspects.
On Sunday morning, they received a call that the white Hummer described in the crime was possibly spotted on Rutledge Street in Waterbury. An officer blocked the dead-end road with his patrol car and approached the vehicle, which then sped off. It slammed into his patrol car multiple times before exiting and leading police on a half-hour pursuit ending in Monroe.
Eight patrol cars were damaged totaling $135,000. Seven officers were injured and taken to the hospital. They have all since been released. Their injuries ranged from neck and lower back strains to wrist and hand contusions.
“Two of those Tahoe‘s were brand new cars with less than 1,000 miles on them. They just went into service a few weeks back,” the Waterbury chief said. He said two of the vehicles may be totaled.
The chase ended when Casperson flipped her car against a utility pole and then fled on foot. She suffered a broken femur and dislocated hip due to the crash and was taken to a Bridgeport hospital, where she remains as of Monday.
Police have not been able to interview her yet as she underwent surgery due to her injuries.
She is on 18-month probation from a previous incident in Southbury in November. She pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree failure to appear and had her six-month jail sentence suspended for probation.
The officer in the body camera footage is seen with his gun drawn. The Waterbury chief said, if he had fired, even at the tires, it would have been considered deadly force and the situation would have been different. He believes stop sticks were used at some point during the pursuit but that they didn’t stop the Hummer.
“By her doing what she did, she only made it worse upon herself because now she has to contend with the police cars that she hit,” Cortes said.
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