The arraignment of a suspect officers were chasing when one of their own suffered a catastrophic injury was delayed until late in the afternoon Friday after a bomb scare closed the through lunch.
Authorities took the morning to left in a trashcan out front of the courthouse, bringing in the bomb squad team and bomb-sniffing dogs to the scene.
After the incident, state police returned the bag to the woman, who said it was full of antiques and that she'd left it in the trashcan because she was told she couldn't bring it in the courthouse and didn't think anyone would bother it if it was in the trash.
Frank O. Douglas, 30, a Connecticut resident his whole life, was due in court on a litany of charges during which Officer Troy Strauser, 38, took a 20-foot drop off the Fairfield Avenue bridge onto the concrete and pavement of I-95 below.
Douglas allegedly fled from police during the early morning hours Thursday after police responding to an assault attempted to stop the vehicle in which Douglas was traveling. Douglas' vehicle eportedly matched that of a vehicle reported by eyewitnesses.
After the bag was found to be a dud and bomb-sniffing dogs took a precautionary sweep of the building during lunch, Douglas finally appeared in the courtroom, close to two dozen Stamford police officers lining the back wall of the courtroom.
It was revealed during the arraignment that Douglas was already on special parole for a 2006 sale of a controlled substance conviction. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Povodator said Douglas' bond would remain at its original $500,000 level and not the proposed $75,000 requested by his defense attorney, Darnell Crosland.
Douglas spoke only once during court, after a contencious battle between the defense and Assistant State Attorney Mitchell Rubin over the fate of $900 Douglas said was taken from him by a probation officer who reportedly said cocaine residue was evident on the bills.
Douglas said he was carrying the cash when he went to visit his probation officer because it was his rent. Povodator asked Douglas if he understood and found it acceptable for the court to hold the money as secondary evidence initially, until whether or not it could be proven or disproven as evidence through further testing.
He was soft-spoken, had a quiet voice and leaned in to the mic to be heard.
"It's okay, your honor," Douglas said. "Yes sir."
His defense, however, was slightly more vocal. Out front of the courthouse, Crosland said Douglas was sorry for Strauser and his family and empathized with him as a fellow human being, but Douglas didn't know Strauser was hurt during the chase and found out only later.
"[Douglas] had no idea that anyone was injured," Crosland said. "As the facts state, he was in a crawl space hiding in some bushes, he would never try to hurt this officer at all. When the other officers appeared in the courtroom, he sort of said to me, evidentally, people are emotional about all this and he's sorry anybody even got hurt."
After making his statement in front of the courthouse, he sent out an official statement via a mass text message that reads as follows:
Quote, "the charges against my client are in dispute for the most part, however what's not in dispute is that I as well as my client empathizes with Troy and prays for his speedy recovery," it's important to note that my client wasn't running to the officer with any intent of causing him harm, but was running away.". It's too early at this point to comment on the evidence, but I would enourage the process not to rush to judgement based on emotion." - Atty Crosland
Sgt. Joseph Kennedy, President of the Stamford Police Association gathered with the officers who came to the courthouse and gave a statement on Douglas, whom he called a career criminal, and their hopes for the case.
"The bond is going to be held at $500,000," Kennedy said. "I'm not going to say we're 'happy' about that. We think that's what the law calls for and that's what it should be."
Kennedy called into question Douglas' history, which included 13 minor convictions, when trying to discern what he thought of the man as he looked at him before the judge in the courtroom.
"I'm listening to his life history of crime," he said. "I'm listening to drugs, I'm listening to weapons in his life. I'm listening to 15 separate arrests. This person was remanded on a parole violation as he should have been and he should not be on the streets here in Connecticut."
Kennedy also gave an update on Strauser during his statement who reamins in critical condition and battles through the next three days with concerns of infection for his internal injuries.
"Our concerns are with how Officer Strauser today," he said. "The ER is very encouraged by what's transpired in the last 24 hours. Yesterday was a very difficult day for himself and his family. Three surgeries in the span of 18 hours. He's still listed as critical. We would hope everybody's thoughts and prayers are with Troy and his family as he deals with these horrific injuries."