HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A Hartford police officer is dead, and another officer is in stable but guarded condition following a crash Wednesday night, according to police.
Officer Robert “Bobby” Garten, 34, an eight-year veteran of Hartford police whose father retired as a detective on the force, died from his injuries, police said. Officer Brian Kearney was seriously injured and was listed as stable at a local hospital. Authorities did not immediately disclose details of Kearney’s injuries.
“I think if you ask anybody in the police department about him [Garten], they’ll say he was the guy that was always smiling,” Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said. “Really loved the work when he got on the job. Was one of those officers that really wanted to excel and do different things. … He was a great man.”
Thody said the South Street Crimes members were patrolling the area around 10:30 p.m. when they saw a Honda Accord go through a red light. The officers did a record check on the vehicle and found that its registration had been canceled. They pulled over the driver, later identified by police as 18-year-old Richard Barrington, on Broad Street. When the officers approached the vehicle on foot, police said Barrington sped away.
“As the officers neared the Accord, it accelerated and fled at a high rate of speed,” Thody said. “The officers did not pursue the fleeing Accord.”
Thody said Barrington then ran two red lights at Farmington Avenue and Asylum Avenue before crashing into Garten and Kearney’s cruiser, he said.
The above video is from the 11 p.m. newscast on 9/7/2023.
Thody said Garten was in the passenger’s seat, and Kearney was driving the cruiser with its emergency lights and siren on as they responded to an unrelated call. The officers were not alerted that a vehicle fled from other officers in the area, the police chief said.
Watch Thursday’s press conference in its entirety below.
The chief state medical examiner’s office said Garten died from blunt injuries to his torso, neck, head and extremities and ruled his death accidental.
Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) directed all state and U.S. flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff in Garten’s memory.
“The street crimes unit, of which he [Garten] was a part, does some of the toughest, most dangerous, most important work that anyone can do to keep our community safe,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said. “Bobby’s mom said yesterday that every day he started on shift. She talked to him and said, be safe out there. And every day, he said, I always am. And he was yesterday, too. He was doing exactly what he should do to serve this city.”
Barrington, an 11th grader from Hartford with no criminal record, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released. He was arrested and charged with failure to obey a traffic control signal, failure to renew registration, misuse of plates and interfering with a police officer. The judge raised Barrington’s bond to $1 million.
Connecticut State Police are investigating the crash, and additional charges are expected.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
Watch the procession in the video below.
A spokesperson from Saint Francis Hospital released the following statement on Friday regarding the officers.
“We are deeply saddened by the events of Wednesday evening, and we offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the families and members of law enforcement impacted by this tragedy. Saint Francis Hospital works closely with the Hartford Police Department, and we are grateful for their dedication to the city of Hartford. In keeping with our Mission and HIPAA regulations, as well as respecting the privacy of the people we serve, we do not comment on specific clinical cases.”
The last time a Hartford police officer died in the line of duty was in May 1996, when Thomas B. Toohey suffered a heart attack.
This is a developing story. Stay with News 8 for updates.