Investigation Underway After Hartford Police Chief Involved in Accident in Chester

City of Hartford

An investigation is underway after the police chief of Hartford was involved in an accident in his department-issued vehicle on the highway in Chester last month, according to a state police official and a Hartford police investigative report obtained by NBC Connecticut.

A report from the City of Hartford said Police Chief Jason Thody was driving his department-issued vehicle on Route 154 in Chester on May 31, when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident,​ according to the summary of an investigative report sent by Hartford Police Assistant Chief Rafael Medina to Hartford Police Chief Operating Officer Thea Montanez.

Thody said he was at his marina in Chester while a Black Lives Matter protest was forming in front of Hartford Police Headquarters, the report stated.

Thody had been monitoring the situation by phone until he decided to drive to Hartford as protests were escalating across the state and were continuing in Hartford, city officials added in the report.

Thody told Medina he was on the phone with Lieutenant Luis Ruiz for an update on the protests around 4:45 p.m. when he left the marina to head to Hartford. Thody said he hung up with Ruiz and placed his phone on the center console of his vehicle when it slid onto the passenger seat, the report stated. 

When he reached over to get the phone,Thody said he momentarily took his eyes off of the road, according to the report. 

In the report, Medina said Thody told him that as he leaned toward the passenger seat of the vehicle to get his phone, he briefly crossed the right shoulder of the highway and the passenger side of his vehicle made contact with a guardrail that runs along the east side of Route 154.

According the report, Thody said his vehicle sustained minor cosmetic damage and was fully operational and he was not hurt in the accident.

Thody reported to Medina that the guardrail did not have any damage, but did have paint transfer, city officials said.

"Chief Thody stated he did not report the incident to Connecticut State Police because there was no damage to the guardrail, minor damage to his vehicle, and that the situation in Hartford was priority over waiting for a trooper to arrive, especially given the fact that he was aware that the State Police were blocking highways due to protests across the state," according to the city report.

In the report, Medina wrote, "Chief Thody stated that, in his judgement, the assessed damage did not meet the $1,000.00 threshold for an accident report to begin with."

Thody notified his direct supervisor, Chief Operating Officer Thea Montanez, of the accident, took photographs of the guardrail and the damage to the vehicle and continued back to Hartford to respond to the protests, the city's report stated.

Thody also said he notified Chief of Staff Brian Bowsza to prepare paperwork to document the damage and to have the vehicle repaired, city officials added in the report.

Information about the incident is being sent to Montanez and the Accident Review Board to decide what next steps, if any, should be taken, the city said.

Connecticut State Police released a statement on Friday about the crash and said there had been differing information about if Thody had reported the accident to them.

"The Connecticut State Police were made aware of a Hartford Police Report that stated CSP were notified of a May 31st motor vehicle accident involving the Hartford Police Chief. The report stated CSP was immediately notified but declined to respond and declined to provide a case number. A second report was given to us today by HPD that said the first report was an error, and CSP was not notified of the accident," Assistant to the Commissioner at the Dept. of Emergency Service and Public Protection Brian Foley said in part in a statement.

"A review of our records show the Police Chief had not reported the accident to the CT State Police," Foley added.

The Hartford city investigative report from Medina said the reason for the confusion in the initial police report over whether there had been contact to the state police was due to a miscommunication.

"Chief Thody did not contact the Connecticut State Police for a response to this incident as outlined in his report," the city's investigative report found.

The Connecticut State Police have contacted the Connecticut State's Attorney in Middlesex and the investigation is ongoing.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to Chief Thody and Hartford Police for statements, but we have not heard back.

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