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64-Month Sentence For Former Policeman In Teen’s Death

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Raymond Hassett, Michael Koistinen (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/Pool)

Raymond Hassett, Michael Koistinen (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/Pool)

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A former Windsor Locks police officer was sentenced Monday to five years and four months in prison for an off-duty car accident in 2010 that killed a 15-year-old boy.

Michael Koistinen, 26, apologized in court to the family of Windsor Locks High School sophomore Henry Dang, who was killed riding his bicycle home from a friend’s house around midnight on Oct. 30, 2010.

“I’m extremely sorry, and I never meant this to happen,” he said.

Authorities say Koistinen had been drinking alcohol and was going more than 70 mph in a 35 mph zone when he hit Dang. Koistinen, who pleaded no contest to second-degree manslaughter in June, was sentenced in Hartford Superior Court.

A prosecutor, John Fahey, read a statement from Dang’s family, who blamed Koistinen’s “stupidity” and called his actions “selfish and cold-hearted.” The family said Koistinen did not deserve their forgiveness.

“Michael took something precious and priceless from us,” the family’s statement said. “Our lives will never be the same.”

Both Koistinen and his father, former Windsor Locks police Sgt. Robert Koistinen, were fired because of the accident.

Robert Koistinen awaits trial for allegedly hindering the investigation.

Michael Koistinen, of Suffield, had faced up to 30 years in prison on charges of first-degree manslaughter, misconduct with a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence, before he reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

He also pleaded no contest to evidence tampering. The sentence also includes five years of probation and 100 hours of community service after the prison term.

Police said Michael Koistinen drank beer and other alcoholic beverages for several hours, including outside a University of Connecticut football game and at a Suffield bar, before the accident. One of the Windsor Locks officers who responded to the scene was his father.

A state police investigation found that Robert Koistinen drove his son away from the crash to the police station and back as many as three times, and later prevented an investigating officer from interviewing and getting a blood sample from Michael Koistinen while he was being treated at a hospital.

An 82-page independent investigation found a series of problems with the way police responded to the accident, including officials’ failure to question Michael Koistinen at the scene about possible alcohol consumption and their failure to test his blood-alcohol level. The report found no evidence of a cover-up, but faulted department officials for a lack of leadership and poor management.

Michael Koistinen’s former lawyer had denied allegations that Koistinen was drunk, and blamed the accident on darkness.

Last year, Dang’s family settled a wrongful death suit against Michael Koistinen and a former tavern owner for $420,000.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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