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West Hartford police officer, others assaulted at PriceRite parking lot; Hartford man arrested

Samuel Rivas was arrested on multiple charges including assaulting a police officer after authorities were called to the supermarket on New Britain Ave.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A 39-year-old Hartford man was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly assaulting “multiple people” including a police officer at the PriceRite parking lot in West Hartford.

Samuel Rivas was arrested on multiple charges including assaulting a police officer after authorities were called to the supermarket on New Britain Ave. just after 12:30 p.m. for a report of a man “actively assaulting multiple people,” police said.

Authorities said the West Hartford police officer arrived at the supermarket and was allegedly assaulted by Rivas after exiting his patrol vehicle. A brief struggle ensued and a bystander assisted in restraining Rivas until other police officers could arrive at the scene.

The police department released body camera footage from the officer that showed him arriving at the supermarket and encountering the suspect, who appeared to be bleeding from the face.

“Relax,” the officer can be heard saying multiple times while approaching the suspect. Seconds later the suspect is seen taking a swing at the police officer before he is restrained.

It was not immediately clear why the suspect was bleeding.

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A preliminary investigation revealed that Rivas allegedly assaulted multiple people in the parking lot, including knocking down an elderly woman to the ground and hitting her in the head, police said in a press release.

Witnesses told police that Rivas had been acting irrationally, punching vehicles, and was possibly under the influence of something.

Rivas was taken to an area hospital to treat his injuries. He later admitted to authorities that had used the drug known as Phencyclidine, or PCP, earlier in the day.

The police officer involved did not suffer any injuries and the female victim suffered a laceration and contusion to her face and head.

“The West Hartford Police Department would like to thank the good Samaritans that not only called for assistance but ultimately risked their own well-being to assist our officers and innocent victims,” the department said in a statement. “If it were not for their quick actions this already difficult situation could have been escalated further.”

"I commend our officer for quickly taking Mr. Rivas into custody before he assaulted additional members of the public," said West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick, Jr. "Moreover, I am extremely appreciative and thankful that a Good Samaritan from the community assisted our officer until backup officers arrived on scene."

Just 24 hours after the incident, supermarket customers told FOX61 they were unnerved by what happened.

“In a situation like that, I would help too. If you know this guy Is out here and it doesn’t matter who the person is, he’s just attacking anybody,” said Ron Gaskins of Hartford. 

“Very scary, very scary because we don’t feel safe going nowhere. People need to be more careful,” said Maria Colon of West Hartford.

Meanwhile, some customers told FOX61 they refuse to live in fear.

“Yes, I feel safe. I’ve been shopping for over 50 years here,” a customer said Monday afternoon.  

Rivas is currently being held on a $250,000 surety bond.

FOX61's Samaia Hernandez contributed to this report.


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