The driver, identified as 21-year-old Joshua Beaston, suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was in stable condition at Hartford Hospital Wednesday afternoon, according to state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance.
The officer, whose name was not released, was forced to draw his service weapon and fire at Beaston following an “interaction” between the two as Beaston attempted to flee the scene of the crashed vehicle, Vance said.
Beaston has been charged with second-degree larceny, criminal mischief and trespassing, Vance said. He was placed under state police guard at the hospital with bail set at $500,000 until he can be arraigned.
Cromwell Police Chief Anthony Salvatore said the incident started around 4 a.m. with reports of an erratic driver crashing into vehicles and buildings.
Vance said the officer was driving down West Street when he saw the suspect traveling in the opposite direction.
The officer turned around and turned on his lights and sirens in an attempt to catch up. When the officer arrived at the intersection of West and Washington Streets, he saw the suspect’s vehicle hit a concrete control box.
The vehicle then went off the road and crashed into the corner of a medical facility, Vance said.
“The officer encountered the suspect. As the suspect began to flee, [the officer] attempted to take the suspect into custody, but the suspect fled from the officer. The officer was forced to draw his service weapon and fire at the suspect, striking him,” Vance said.
Vance said the Cromwell officer, who has been assigned to administrative duty pending the investigation, would not have opened fire if he did not feel threatened.
“As a result of circumstances yet to be determined as part of the investigation, the officer was forced to discharge his weapon,” Salvatore said.
“Why the officer discharged the weapon is part of the investigation.”
State troopers re-directed motorists Wednesday morning at the offices where the crash and shooting happened. Drivers were told to park in a different part of the lot, away from the scene.
The offices at the building were open, however, including that of the physical therapist which was hit by the truck.
Some drywall was broken, but the truck didn’t break completely through the wall, said Jake Donovan. His law firm, Donovan & Morello, owns the brick building.
Out of “an abundance of caution,” a support pole will be installed, he said.
Sal Pepitone, co-owner of Suburban Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center, said the building inspector said it was OK to open for the day.
The staff is trying to stay out of the reception area, though, where drywall in the corner is broken.
On the outside, the truck cracked bricks, Pepitone said.
Rick Erickson was driving to work on West Street before dawn Wednesday when he saw flashing lights in the distance.
He saw the truck speed by in the opposite lane, headed west, with a patrol car, emergency lights on, two car lengths behind.
The truck “was going fast,” he said, although he was unable to estimate its speed.
By Christine Dempsey and Tony Terzi