The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office has concluded Hamden Police officers were not chasing a car when it crashed and killed a young man in New Haven.
The finding has outraged the family and friends of the man who died, Jarelle Gibbs.
“I only had one son and now he’s gone,” said Michael Matthews, the father of Gibbs. “He was a good kid. He was a straight A student. He was on his way to play basketball.”
The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into the car crash that took the life of the 24-year-old, who had been a passenger.
A makeshift memorial marks the tree which the car struck after investigators say the driver lost control on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven in August last year.
Before the impact, authorities say the driver of the stolen car had refused to stop for Hamden police who had spotted the car at the scene of a burglary.
The State’s Attorney’s Office says there was a brief pursuit but it was then called off.
Now the state investigation is complete and this statement was released:
“After a thorough review of witness statements, surveillance videos and physical evidence, the State’s Attorney’s Office has concluded that no officers were actively engaged in a pursuit at the time of the crash.”
A finding Matthews just can’t believe.
“I prayed every day that God would reveal the truth. Maybe not now but it will. It’s going to come out. I know it is. I’m not going to give my faith up. I’m not going to do that,” said Matthews.
Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng says the town and police want to read the full report once they receive it in the coming days before really commenting, though police are expected to release some type of statement on Wednesday.
Matthews and others are now calling for an independent investigation.
“I’m all for independent investigations and having more eyes on things. However there is a bit of process to it,” said Mayor Leng.
The mayor believes there are benefits to waiting to see the results of an internal police investigation which will soon be launched.
“I’m sure that will be an exhaustive process on the local level too to make sure policies and procedures were followed and the ones that were not will have consequences,” said Mayor Leng.
Some believe chases like this are part of a troubling pattern in the state.
“We need some foundational changes so passengers in cars aren’t killed for petty allegations,” said Kerry Ellington, a local activist.
The Hamden mayor says the town is working on updates to the police chase policy.
As for the deadly car crash, the driver, Brandon Shealy, has now been arrested and faces several charges.