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Father-son duo chases down New Haven hit-and-run suspect leading to arrest

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NEW HAVEN -- New Haven police say they do not encourage citizens to try to apprehend suspects on their own. But, following a serious hit and run accident Monday night, they are thankful a father and son did just that.

Around 7:30 p.m. at the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Sherman Avenue, a woman was crossing the road when she was struck by a speeding car that never stopped after the impact. Sajjad Chaudhary and his son, Ali, who own and operate Dynamic Auto, across the street, were nearby when they saw the accident.

"When he hit her on the bottom of the leg, she goes up into the air, doing like two spins and then she dropped on the ground," said Sajjad. "I have seen this in cartoon movies, not in the real life."

But, when the dark car continued to speed up, the father and son chased and caught up with the suspect, David Diaz. That's when Sajjad started recording video on his cellphone.

"Stand right there and keep your hands right there," he can be heard telling Diaz on the video. "Put your both hands up there. Don't move!"

While others tended to the victim, who suffered a few broken bones, the Chaudharys awaited police.

"We don't suggest that people put themselves in harms way," said Officer David Hartman of the New Haven Police Department. "And there was no way that the Chaudhary father-son team could've known if they were or not."

When Diaz went back into his car, the Chaudharys weren't sure whether he was going for a gun. But they had one primary concern.

"I was just nervous about the guy getting away, running away," said Ali.

"Sir! Put your body over here," directed Sajjad Chaudhary on the cell phone video. "OK. Put your body over here. Just stay. Just wait that's it. Don't move."

After watching the video, Officer Hartman said," His commands to the suspect were spot on. You know, this guy should certainly apply to be a police officer."

Sajjad Chaudhary shrugged off any suggestion he was a "hero."

"Anybody can do this. Any good citizen, they have to do it," he said.

Officers said they smelled alcohol on Diaz’ breath and his speech was slurred. Police said he later told them he had smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine earlier in the day. Diaz was charged with assault in the second degree, felony evading with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence, reckless driving and several other motor vehicle offenses.