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State v. Sampson

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 18, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
TYRAN SAMPSON

          Argued January 10, 2017

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of assault of public safety personnel and failure to appear in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain, geographical area number fifteen, where the court, D'Addabbo, J., granted the defendant's motion to sever the charge of failure to appear; thereafter, the court granted the state's motion in limine to preclude certain evidence; subsequently, the charge of assault of public safety personnel was tried to the jury before the court; verdict and judgment of guilty of the lesser included offense of interfering with an officer, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain, geographical area number fifteen, D'Addabbo, J.

          Robert L. O'Brien, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, was Christopher Duby, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Kathryn W. Bare, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was Brian Preleski, state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Lavine, Beach and Flynn, Js.

         Syllabus

         Convicted of the crime of interfering with an officer, as a lesser offense included within the crime of assault of public safety personnel, the defendant appealed to this court. The defendant was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his brother that nearly collided with a police officer who was responding to a report of a robbery in East Hartford, and they were later involved in a police pursuit involving officers from the Hartford and East Hartford Police Departments. After the vehicle stopped, the driver fled, and two police officers, O and P, approached the passenger side of the vehicle and ordered the defendant to exit the vehicle. The defendant did not obey the order and, instead, engaged in a struggle with police during which he kicked P in the right forearm. The defendant was eventually removed from his vehicle and secured in handcuffs.

         Held:

1. The defendant could not prevail on his claim that the trial court violated his constitutional right to confrontation by granting the state's motion in limine to exclude certain evidence relating to counseling received by O in connection with an arrest report she had written previously in an unrelated case, which the defendant claimed could have been used to impeach O's testimony; that court's ruling that the evidence was not relevant was not an abuse of discretion, as the excluded evidence concerned verbal counseling and training received by O regarding how to write more detailed police reports and, thus, had no relation to the ability or propensity of O to tell the truth, nor did it relate to the issue of whether the defendant had kicked P.
2. The trial court did not abuse its discretion or violate the defendant's right to present a defense by finding inadmissible certain testimony of three police officers concerning the details of the police investigation into the robbery in East Hartford, police radio dispatches during the pursuit, and information about the charges brought against the defendant's brother arising out of his conduct in driving the vehicle involved in the pursuit, which the defendant claimed would have demonstrated that the police officers had acted unreasonably and in excess of their authority, and therefore was relevant to the issue of the reasonableness of the force used by P in arresting the defendant: the excluded testimony related to a collateral issue that was not directly relevant to the elements of the crime charged against the defendant or the lesser included offense, did not tend to prove or to disprove any element of the offense, and was not relevant to the issue of the reasonableness of P's use of force; moreover, because the essence of the defendant's defense, which was the reasonableness of P's use of force, was before the jury, the court did not improperly limit the defendant's ability to present the defense.

          OPINION

          BEACH, J.

         The defendant, Tyran Sampson, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of interfering with an officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a. The defendant claims that the trial court violated (1) his right to confrontation by excluding certain impeachment evidence as to a state's witness and (2) his right to present a defense by prohibiting the introduction of certain testimony. We disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On June 10, 2012, at approximately 9:52 p.m., Daniel Caruso, a sergeant with the East Hartford Police Department, responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Family Dollar store in East Hartford. While en route to the scene, a Toyota Camry crossed into his lane of travel and Caruso swerved to avoid a collision. Caruso's attempt to stop the Camry was unsuccessful. He was able to provide the department with a description of the vehicle and its license plate number. The police were able to determine the address of the person who had rented the Camry. When Caruso arrived at that address, he saw the Camry drive by and pursued the vehicle again. Paul Neves, a sergeant with the East Hartford Police Department, and other East Hartford police officers also responded to the address after being notified by dispatch that the address belonged to the renter of the Camry. Caruso followed the Camry, but stopped the pursuit when the Camry entered Interstate 84 traveling in the wrong direction.

         At approximately 10:27 p.m., officers with the Hartford Police Department picked up the pursuit of the Camry. The pursuit concluded when police officers deployed stop sticks that disabled the vehicle. The defendant was in the front passenger seat of the Camry, and D'Amico Sampson, the defendant's brother, had been driving the car. The defendant and his brother were suspected by the police to have engaged in the armed robbery in East Hartford earlier that evening.[1]

         Once the vehicle stopped, the driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot, while the defendant remained in the passenger seat. Tonya Ortiz and Anthony Pia, officers with the Harford Police Department, approached the passenger side of the vehicle and ordered ...


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