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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Police Captain Dies After Being Charged With DUI

New Britain Police Captain Dies After Being Charged With DUI, Evading Responsibility
The Courant by Kim Velsey and Don Stacom - April 30, 2011

NEW BRITAIN, CT — A veteran police captain facing DUI and other charges after allegedly crashing his car into another vehicle and fleeing the scene early Saturday morning was found dead by two friends is his home that afternoon, police said Saturday afternoon. New Britain Police Chief William Gagliardi called the death of 55-year-old Matthew Tuttle "untimely" and said in an e-mail that no other details of the death would be released until family members are contacted. Police were massed outside Tuttle's home in the Forest Glen Circle apartments in Middletown Saturday afternoon. Middletown police are investigating. Tuttle, a 26-year veteran of the department, was involved in a crash on Route 9 in Berlin at about 12:45 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence, evading responsibility in a collision with serious physical injury or property damage and failing to drive in the proper lane, state police said. He was off duty at the time. Tuttle, who police said had been drinking, fled the scene of the crash, according to state police. He was arrested later after police found his vehicle in Middletown. He was released on a promise to appear in court. No one was seriously injured in the crash, according to state police Lt. J. Paul Vance. New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart said that no disciplinary action had been taken against Tuttle. He said that Tuttle was an exemplary police officer and that his death is a tragedy. "He was a real good guy," Stewart said. "He was a leader in our department and I feel for his family and all his friends. He was a real professional, a long-time leader in the police department." Gagliardi released a statement late Saturday afternoon that said: "On behalf of Mayor Timothy Stewart, members of the New Britain Police Department and the Board of Police Commissioners, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Captain Matthew Tuttle. Captain Tuttle honorably served on the New Britain Police Department for more than 26 years. He will be missed." Gagliardi did not return phone calls Saturday. The death marks an additional challenge for a department that has been in turmoil recently. Gagliardi is being sued by five officers or former officers, and each of his three senior commanders — including Tuttle — is a defendant in at least one of the cases. Over the past two years, four female patrol officers or former officers have filed federal lawsuits alleging discrimination and sexual harassment. In the latest case, Officer Paula Keller charged last week that Capt. Anthony Paventi, the head of the internal affairs unit, made unwanted romantic advances to her and that Gagliardi and Capt. Dennis Beatty didn't investigate, despite the city's "zero tolerance" policy on sexual harassment. Keller, a nine-year police veteran, contends that she was passed her over for promotion and specialized training after turning Paventi down. Also, Sgt. Carlos Burgos has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that Gagliardi, Tuttle and Paventi retaliated against him and tried to smear his reputation after learning that he might testify in support of the female officers. Staff writer Grace Merritt contributed to this story.

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