FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Farmington Police Officer James O’Donnell sustained serious injuries overnight Monday from being struck by a stolen vehicle, pinning him against his cruiser during a pursuit. Now, the community is coming to support Officer O’Donnell and calling for lawmakers to hold criminals accountable.
Monday around 12:50 a.m., police said officers were sent to a parking lot of a condominium complex on 1 Talcott Forest Road on a report of active vehicle theft. Police said in a press conference Monday morning that suspects were in the process of a catalytic converter theft.
According to police, O’Donnell found the suspect vehicle down the road at 6 Talcott Forest Road and tried to make contact with the occupants, and the officer got out of his vehicle. The vehicle fled and ended up pinning O’Donnell between the cruiser’s driver side and the suspect vehicle while fleeing.
WEB EXTRA: Farmington PD give an update Monday on their officer struck by a stolen car, seriously injured
Police said O’Donnell pursued the suspect’s vehicle to the end of Talcott Forest Road, then the vehicle crashed into the woods, where the suspects ran off. Police said K-9 teams searched for the suspects but were not able to locate them at this time.
Police determined the vehicle was stolen out of Middletown last month.
O’Donnell was transported to the hospital and sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. O’Donnell suffered from multiple broken bones.
Farmington police reported that O’Donnell will need a lengthy rehabilitation to fully recover from the injuries.
“The officer was crushed up against the vehicle, the suspect vehicle. It’s a miracle he didn’t suffer anything more serious than he has,” said Lt. Timothy McKenzie, Farmington Police Department.
Officer O’Donnell has been on the Farmington police force for three and a half years.
Neighbors in the quiet condo complex nestled between the Farmington River and West Hartford Reservoir say they have been largely immune from the rash of car burglaries and break-ins that have been happening across the state this past summer. The calm was shattered Monday night.
“It’s a nice area to live in because there’s not stuff like that that happens all the time,” said Steve, a resident in the area. “We’ve never had problems like this in this area before.”
Safe Streets CT held a rally on Monday evening at the Farmington Police Department to send a strong message to the community and the police department: we citizens back you up.
There has been a lot of anti-police sentiment lately. The ralliers told News 8 their Safe Streets Connecticut event supports the police and their efforts to make the community safer.
“When is the governor and the legislatures going to wake up?!” one rallier asked.
A handful of protesters had some harsh words for state leaders Monday night.
“It’s absolutely horrifying, he was out there trying to protect the citizens and now his injuries are very severe,” one woman said of the injured officer.
These women do not want their names used, both victims of crimes, the same crime the Farmington officer was trying to stop.
“I had my catalytic converter stolen last week, so, join the club!” one of the ralliers added.
A half a dozen broad daylight carjackings, from a bakery, from in front of the post office, and an abduction from a Marlborough grocery store, has people on edge.
“Going to the ATM, going to the grocery store, unloading the car, wherever we go, we have to think about it, lock the car when you get gas. What are we, another Chicago?”
In addition to rallying in support of the police, Safe Streets Connecticut says they’re calling for a special session at the Capitol.
“Does he have to lose his legs for the governor to wake up, and legislators to do something? Who is next, Hendrick is gone…”
She is referring to a New Britain man who was struck and killed by a stolen car two months ago… he was out running.
“You need to hear us now. We do not want one more injury, we do not want one more death.”
Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to contact the Farmington Police Department at 860-675-2400. Farmington PD Case # is 21-13367.