NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk Police and State's Attorney Richard Colangelo have determined that a Norwalk officer acted correctly in a January pursuit where a 22-year-old man died while trying to escape police.
Vincent Shaqui Fowlkes, of 28 N. Taylor Ave., died on January 26 when he drove off the road and crashed into a tree on Geneva Road. His passenger, 19-year-old Shawn Lavandi Bowman, also of 28. N. Taylor Ave., was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
The crash took place at around 11 a.m. when officers from the Special Services Unit were attempting to serve an arrest warrant in the area of West Cedar Street. Police said that the suspect was attempting to evade police first in a vehicle and then by foot. An officer working a nearby construction project responded to the area of West Cedar Street and Scribner Avenue to assist.
Police said the officer positioned his patrol car at the intersection of Scribner Avenue and Suncrest Road in an effort to prevent any cars from exiting Colonial Village. As he stepped out of his car, he saw a vehicle driving quickly at him. Police said it did not stop, but drove up on the sidewalk to get around the patrol car, and then sped off onto Scribner Avenue.
The officer couldn't see the driver but believed it was the car that was involved in the earlier chase, and he pursued it, police said. The car sped away, and the officer lost sight of it multiple times in the chase as it proceeded onto Geneva Road. He thought it may have attempted to hide in a driveway, when he approached the area of 31 Geneva Road and saw that it had driven off the road and struck a tree, police said.
Officers and firefighters responded to the crash and extricated Fowlkes and Bowman, who were both taken to Norwalk Hospital, where Fowlkes later died of his injuries.
The Connecticut State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction Squad was called in to investigate the crash. Police said their complete report will take several months, but that a large quantity of narcotics were located in the vehicle.
The officer involved in the pursuit was placed on modified duty while Norwalk Police conducted a review of the circumstances that led up to the crash. The department concluded that the officer had acted in accordance with department policy, police said.
Police said the entire duration of the incident, from when the car went up on the sidewalk to when it crashed, was just over one minute. The officer was never directly in pursuit of the fleeing vehicle, as it was out of his sight a large portion of the time, police said. There was significant distance between the two vehicles, and surveillance footage from a location on Geneva Road showed the officer about 12 seconds behind the suspect at the time of the crash, according to police reports.
State's Attorney Colangelo conducted an independent review of the department's findings and reached the same conclusion as Norwalk Police. As a result, the officer has been returned to full duty.