A West Haven man drove recklessly through downtown Darien, elsewhere in town and reportedly in other towns on Sunday, Darien police said, and then he drove to Stamford police headquarters, where he vandalized two police vehicles before he was tackled and arrested, according to Stamford police.
Editor’s note: This article is revised from its original version published earlier on Monday. Darien police initially said the incidents in Darien were on Sunday evening, near midnight (meaning two different drivers were involved in two different police pursuits in town, one of which led to events in Stamford). Before publishing our article, Darienite.com twice asked police for clarification, since the Stamford incident was similar and mentioned a car pursuit in Darien. Darien Police again said the events in this town occurred in the morning. Later in the day, a police spokesman revised the account to say they occurred in the evening and to identify the same driver charged by Darien police who was charged in Stamford.
Here are each of the police accounts. Each of these accounts include allegations of crimes that have not been proven in court:
The 61-year-old driver repeatedly sped past a Darien police officer who was on patrol, returning to speed past the officer again, late Sunday morning. It appeared that the driver was taunting the officer, trying to get him to chase the car.
After initially following the car, a red 1984 El Camino, the officer stopped following the vehicle when it got on the on-ramp for northbound Interstate 95 traffic near Exit 11. Later, the same officer was parked near Exit 13 by the Post Road when he saw the car speed past him again.
Police say that that officer did not pursue the vehicle on that occasion either, but a later Stamford police report stated that Darien police did pursue the car before breaking off pursuit as the car entered Stamford.
Darien Police: Repeated Taunting of Police
Late Sunday morning, police responded to an anonymous call from someone saying the driver of a vehicle was acting suspiciously at the Shell gas station at 805 Post Road in downtown Darien. The car was described to police as either a Porsche or Ford Mustang.
An officer who went to the scene saw no suspicious vehicle, but got out of a patrol car to check behind the gas station. That was when he heard the loud revving of an engine caused by a car moving very fast down the Post Road. He saw that the vehicle passed the gas station as it traveled west on the road.
The officer got back in the patrol car and headed after the vehicle. Near the intersection of Corbin Drive, he saw the vehicle again — this time headed east, toward the patrol car.
Unrelated to this incident, Darien police say there were five motor vehicle accidents, none with injuries, in town in the seven days ending Sunday. One was in a parking lot.
The vehicle passed the patrol car at 55 mph, as the officer saw on the patrol car’s radar device (it can determine the speed of other vehicles even as the patrol car is itself moving — police have had that or similar devices in patrol cars for about the past two decades).
The officer did not turn around and pursue the speeding vehicle further at that point. Instead, the patrol car stopped by Darien Sport Shop.
The vehicle then came back and, traveling westbound again, passed the parked police car, then turned onto Ledge Road and got onto Interstate 95, traveling fast. It immediately got back off the highway at Exit 10 and again passed the patrol car as it headed back toward the Post Road.
The officer activated the patrol car’s emergency lights and siren. The vehicle being pursued drove around the median at the Post Road and Ledge Road in a circle. It then drove under the I-95 overpass and up the entrance ramp onto I-95 North. The officer ended his pursuit.
Back at the Shell station, police saw no damage to anything. They checked next door at Starbucks and saw no damage there, either.
Later the vehicle was seen again by the officer, who was stopped near I-95 Exit 13 on the Post Road. The driver again revved the vehicle’s engine as it sped along the road, seeming to bait the police officer into a pursuit. That officer didn’t pursue.
There were reports that day from state police on Interstate 95 and police in Norwalk and Westport of the same vehicle speeding on the roads.
Darien police described the driver as a white male wearing a cowboy hat.
Stamford Police: After a Darien Pursuit, Vandalism at Stamford PD
Stamford police gave the following account in an announcement posted at about 9 p.m. Sunday on Facebook (Darien police expect to announce more information later on this pursuit):
At about 10:45 a.m., Darien police broke off a pursuit of a a red Chevrolet El Camino at the border with Stamford (the street where the pursuit took place was not mentioned in the news release).
Police got the license plate of the vehicle, which records showed belonged to Nicholas Tartell of West Haven. Stamford police began looking for the car.
At about 11 a.m., Lt. Diedrich Hohn was driving east on Hoyt Street near Stamford Police Headquarters when he saw a white man with long white hair and wearing a black leather jacket “violently keying a Stamford patrol vehicle which was parked on Hoyt Street,” according to the announcement.
Hohn chased him and tackled him in front of the headquarters building. The man, later identified as Tartell, yelled and screamed that he hates police as he struggled with Hohn. Several police officers helped get the man into custody.
Soon afterward, another police officer noticed that a red Chevrolet Camino was blocking the Hoyt Street entrance into the police headquarters parking lot. It was Tartell’s car that Darien police had been pursuing a little earlier.
Police surveillance video was checked, and it showed Tartell using a key to scratch one police vehicle and then another before Hohn stopped him.
In Tartell’s car police found a large hunting knife on the front seat and a “vast amount of prescription drugs which were prescribed to him,” police said.
Tartell was put in a jail cell charged with two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, interfering with police and illegally having a weapon in a motor vehicle. Darien police issued Tartell a summons for engaging police in pursuit and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
Tartell was taken to Stamford Hospital, where he was being given a mental evaluation as of 9 p.m.