WFSB - Eyewitness News

Attorney General meets with families impacted by Purdue PharmaENFIELD, CT (WFSB) -- Attorney General William Tong met with dozens of families and recovering addicts in Enfield on Monday in an informational meeting over the recent multi-state lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals. For the first time, a pharmaceutical company and two of its former executives are facing federal criminal charges in connection with the ongoing opioid epidemic. The multi-state lawsuit accuses Purdue Pharmaceuticals, located in Stamford, CT, and the Sackler family of deceptively selling the painkiller oxycontin and downplaying its addictiveness. Likewise, those criminal charges against Rochester Drug Co-Operative in New York are adding a new twist to efforts to hold companies and people responsible for the opioid epidemic. Channel 3 spoke with recovering addict, Sara Hayward who said she was prescribed opioids after a car accident. Hayward said the addiction is the worst man-made health crisis. "Purdue PHARMA took away over a decade of my life,” said Hayward. Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong is suing Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family. "They knew people were dying and yet they kept going without any regard for their moral or legal responsibility. What we see from Richard Sackler is sell more -- now." The Attorney General said Purdue Pharm is interested more in making money, than preserving human lives. “We’re focused full board on trial and on holding them accountable but we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the people in the state,” said Tong. Despite threats of possible bankruptcy, Attorney General Tong said the company must accept responsibility for the opioid crisis. Nearly one thousand people overdose each year in Connecticut, Tong said. In a statement, the company said it will, “vigorously deny the allegations filed,” and “will continue to defend themselves against these misleading attacks.” Tong’s announcement on Tuesday evening comes as federal prosecutors charged New York’s pharmaceutical company “Rochester Drug Cooperative” and two of its former executives. “From 2012 to 2017, it shipped tens of millions of highly addictive oxycodone pills and fentanyl products to pharmacies that it knew were illegally dispensing narcotics,” said the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe 72,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2017.
Man shot in hip in HartfordHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Hartford police are responding to a shooting after a man was shot in the hip. Police said the shooting took place in the 200 block of Barbour Street. A man was found suffering from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the hip. Police said Major Crime Detectives are investigating. This story is developing. Stay with Channel 3 for updates.
Three families displaced after fires erupt on in Hartford on TuesdayHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Three families are displaced after a fire started in a vacant building in Hartford and then spread to an apartment building on Tuesday evening. Firefighters were called to a large, 2-alarm fire in an abandoned building in the area of 92/94 Nelson Street, but crews told Channel 3 the fast moving fire spread to 88/90 Nelson Street. Crews said three units were destroyed and seven people are displaced. Channel 3 spoke with Nelson Street resident, Marisol Colon, who said through a translator she is lucky she got out in time. "I was on the front porch with my friend out of nowhere I saw flames," said Colon. "I just saw the flames the first thing I did was run out." Deputy Chief Cucuta said all hands worked to defensively extinguish the fire with partial collapse. Three people were in the apartment building when help arrived and crews safely evacuated them. "I feel happy that I’m safe," said Colon. "I am upset over everything that happened and how I lost everything but what matters is that I’m alive." The road was closed between Clark Street and Barbour Street as crews knocked down the fire. The Red Cross us helping the families as the investigation into what started the fast moving fires continues. This story is developing. Stay with Channel 3 for updates.
Body cam footage shows some of officer-involved shootingHAMDEN, CT (WFSB) - The state's public safety commissioner released body cam video and dispatch audio of a police-involved shooting that happened last week in New Haven. Commissioner James Rovella led a state police news conference in New Haven on Tuesday afternoon, <a href="" target="_blank">where the video and audio were released</a>. The shooting by a Hamden officer and a Yale officer on Dixwell Avenue last week sparked outrage in communities with many people demanding justice. On Tuesday, authorities said the Yale officer did not have any recording devices activated. The Hamden officer's body cam was turned on late, but captured the moments after he got out of the cruiser. A recall feature allowed the public to view the start of the incident, but there was no audio for the first 16 seconds. He did not have a cruiser camera. <a href="" target="_blank">In new surveillance video</a> from "Believe in Me Empowerment Corporation," Hamden officer Devon Eaton approached a red Honda which was believed to have been involved in an armed robbery. A zoomed in version of the video showed driver Paul Witherspoon try to exit the Honda during the stop which is when Eaton opened fire. “There are indications that he was told to open the door and come out with his hands up. It looks like it but I can’t tell you that was in the other hand," Rovella said on Tuesday. Witherspoon's passenger, 22-year-old Stephanie Washington was hit, but is expected to be okay. Witherspoon was not hurt. The New Haven state's attorney is investigating what happened. In the meantime, a judge has signed off on a search warrant for the Honda. State police said they will look for potential evidence. Witherspoon's uncle thanked state police for making the video available and being as transparent as they can in their investigation. "This is not community policing, racial profiling, there are incidents going on around the country, I’m just glad, these guys are bringing it out," Rodney Williams said. Both officers are on administrative leave. At Monday's council meeting, members said they must listen to the community before deciding on how to spend their money on the police budget. Those who spoke before the council demanded justice for Witherspoon and Washington. "There definitely needs to be questions answered, and the one question is, what are going to do about justice for Stephanie Washington?" asked Scott Marks of New Haven. "And what are we going to do about justice for Paul Witherspoon?" "We have to do something about it," said James Outlaw of Hamden. "We have to change the culture in which are kids are coming in there now. I have to tell my son every time he leaves my home, be careful." Community members are asking for an independent investigation funded by town officials. On Tuesday, retired State Police Lt. Paul Vance analyzed the video that was released. “I think we should be extremely cautious about what we look at because taken out of context sometimes things are misinterpreted and that could very dangerous," Vance said. Regarding the body cam protocol, Vance said there are standards in place. “There are standards that are set forth, relative to body cams and dash cams and certainly if those standards weren’t adhered to there would be culpability on the individual didn’t activate whatever was required to be activated at the time," Vance said. Rovella said it's unheard of for all of this to come out so quickly, but that trust and integrity is what they strive for as they continue to investigate. "From everything I’ve watched from my perspective, it seems the investigating agencies, the state police are being very transparent in everything that they’re doing which is extremely important," Vance said. The body cam footage is being sent out to be enhanced. Video after the shooting is not being released at the moment.
CT home to some of the greatest 'old-school' pizzeriasNEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -- Connecticut is among some of the greatest old school joints in the U.S. for pizza. There were six pizzerias that are being recognized for not changing to the times, according to a list released by The Daily Meal. They are considered some of the most classic places to grab a pie, and three of them are in New Haven – Frank Pepe’s, Ernie’s and Sally’s. Colony Grill in Stamford, Roseland Apizza in Derby, and Zuppardi's Apizza in West Haven also made the list. They were just a few of the 56 on the list. See them all on <a href="" target="_blank">the Ch 3 app</a>.
Governor urges lawmakers to vote on gun lawsHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut's governor urged lawmakers to vote on stronger gun laws. Gov. Ned Lamont spoke at an event for Connecticut Gun Violence Advocacy Day around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The event was co-hosted by several organizations, including the Newtown Action Alliance and the Sandy Hook Promise. Beforehand, volunteers delivered more than 1,000 signed petitions and met directly with lawmakers to talk about legislation. They addressed Ethan's law, which would strengthen laws about firearms storage, a law banning undetectable and untraceable guns, and a law aimed at making owners of pistols and revolvers store their weapons in a locked container when they leave the guns in an unattended vehicle. Many feel the laws are not enough, and they said guns are too easy to get. "If that gun in Greenwich was locked up, I wouldn't be standing here as a survivor," said Tara Donnelly, whose parents were killed in a Fairfield jewelry store. They were shot by Chris Dimeo who stole an unsecured gun while robbing a home. "That is something that is going to stop and that's what this bill will do," Lamont said. Lawmakers are considering a few bills. One bans so-called "ghost guns" and 3D printed guns, where unserialized and unregistered parts are sold on the internet. Gamel Dawkins' 12-year-old brother Clinton was killed in December, standing in front of their Bridgeport home. "My family took a tragic loss due to gun violence, it's something we're trying to combat," Dawkins said. Another bill is named after Kristin Song's son Ethan, who was 15 when he accidentally shot himself with a gun owned by his friend's father. The gun was not loaded but was stored in a cardboard box with ammunition. That bill requires all weapons to be locked up. While Democrats are pushing for these laws, some Republicans are on board. "It's an emotionally charged issue but its an opportunity to bring everyone into a room to have a conversation," said Republican State Rep. The group "Moms Demand Action" feels Connecticut must pass common sense gun laws. "New technology is incredible, you can get in faster to a safe than your cell phone. That would have saved my son's life," Kristin Song said. Another bill would prohibit people leaving guns loaded or not in an unattended car.
Golfer describes recent bobcat attackNEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) -- A local man is speaking out after he was attacked by a rabid bobcat. Michael Popkowski, of New London, was swinging away at the Mohegan Sun Golf Course <a href="" target="_blank">when he was attacked by the animal</a>. “He’s scratching me, biting me he’s on my back. It came out of nowhere of course, it’s totally unexpected,” he said. He spoke with Channel 3 exclusively on Tuesday at his home where he is recovering. He said the attack happened at the 7th hole at the golf course. “It’s startling it happened so quickly, I honestly don’t even remember how long the attack took place,” Popkowski said. His memory is fuzzy, but others said the 30 to 40-pound bobcat came out of nowhere, and pounced on the 70-year-old golfer from behind. The wild animal clawing and biting and puncturing his head, shoulder and arm. “My scalp feels fine, I’ve got 11 staples that need to come out. All bite marks, puncture wounds on my left arm,” Popkowski described. The Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection found the bobcat and euthanized it. It tested positive for rabies, which explains its vicious demeanor. “Better me than a small child or a kid, that wouldn’t have been very good,” he said. Popkowski was the second victim that day. The first was a 12-year-old horse named Bella. Popkowski is getting treated to protect himself from rabies. He’s thankful for everyone who jumped in the day of the attack including first responders, workers at the golf course the staff at the hospital and family. He’s also not giving up golf after the bobcat attack. He’ll be getting right back on the course this Friday.
Police seek suspect in armed robbery of a Subway in NorwichNORWICH, CT (WFSB) -- Police are searching for a suspect who they said robbed a Subway restaurant in Norwich on Monday evening. The robbery took place at the Subway on Salem Turnpike at about 10:30 p.m. According to police, the clerk said the suspect showed a handgun and demanded cash from the register. The suspect fled with an unspecified amount of money, police said. Those with information are asked to contact Norwich Police Detective Christopher Chastang at 860-886-5561 ext. 3159
Leaders expand lawsuit against Purdue PharmaHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Connecticut's attorney general is taking on a big drug company. William Tong is expanding a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma based in Stamford, saying the company diverted profits from to evade accountability for the opioid crisis. The attorney general says Purdue was much more interested in money than human life, and when in 2007 the company admitted their drug was highly addictive, they kept marketing it. "They knew people were dying and yet they kept going without any regard for their moral or legal responsibility,” Tong said on Tuesday. In addition to suing Purdue Pharma, he’s suing its owners, the Sackler family. Despite threats of possible bankruptcy, Tong said the company must accept responsibility for the opioid crisis. "What we see from Richard Sackler is sell more, now,” Tong said. Dozens of states are part of the lawsuit. CT has obtained private documents that include a list doctors who may have over-prescribed opioids in exchange for kickbacks. "Purdue did studies to determine how long people stayed on their opioids,” said Kim Massicotte, special counsel for opioids. Many Connecticut families understand the nightmare of addiction. "Purdue Pharma took away over a decade of my life,” said Sara Howroyd, who is a recovering addict. She was given opioids after a car accident, and calls the addiction the worse man-made health crisis. There are nearly 1,000 overdose deaths every year in Connecticut. In a statement, Purdue Pharma said they will “vigorously deny the allegations filed” and “will continue to defend themselves against these misleading attacks.” Brittany Niber was only 14 when she fell off her bike. It was a serious injury but she said it was oxycontin that almost killed her. "I felt hopeless and she (her mom) felt even worse, like watching her daughter die,” Brittany Niber said. "I didn't know, I followed the doctor’s orders and it also told cost me her life. I am angry that happened and lost a lot to years of our life too,” Paige Niber said. More than 40 states are either suing or have investigations. On Tuesday evening, Tong will be in Enfield at Asnuntuck Community College for an opioid forum with Congressman Joe Courtney to see what can be done on a federal level.
Spring is in the air, pollen too, with allergy season in full swingEAST LYME, CT (WFSB) -- With spring in the air, pollen follows. Sneezing, coughing, and sniffling are common symptoms for those who suffer from seasonal allergies and can make being outdoors unbearable. Channel 3 spoke with folks along the shoreline who say their allergies are blooming as much as the flowers. East Lyme resident, Karen Dwyer told Channel 3 that her son’s spring allergies are worse than ever before. “It’s a little worse, I think, than last year,” said Dwyer. “He used to have issues in the fall, but I’ve noticed the last two springs he’s had more issues.” Dwyer told Channel 3 she stopped by Shoreline Allergy and Asthma in East Lyme to get prescriptions before an upcoming trip. “He didn’t want to be without his Zyrtec for the night,” said Dwyer. “He sneezes a lot, runny nose just uncomfortable. He didn’t want to be away even for a few days without it.” East Lyme allergist, Dr. Mahesh Netravali told Channel 3 patients are making sure they will be prepared when the season gets worse. “You get all of the trees releasing a lot of pollen and then you’ll get grass pollen at the same time and then there’s also molds. Mold spore counts are high, so you get sort of a bombardment of all different outdoor things,” said Dr. Natervali. Dr. Netravali said this allergy season will be like last year and over last several decades, allergies have worsened. But, with over-the-medication and nasal sprays for mild symptoms to allergy immunotherapy shots to provide for those with more severe symptoms, Dr. Netravali said treatment options are expansive. “Itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, sniffling even on all the medicines that becomes a really good option,” said Dr. Netravali. Dr. Netravali recommends keeping windows closed in your home and car to prevent pollen from entering your home, avoiding the outdoors on peak pollen days, and using a cool compress to soothe itchy eyes, rather than rubbing. “If you stay on top of it and take the medication every night then you’re okay, but if you slack off then that’s when you have problems,” said Dwyer. Dr. Netravali told Channel 3 that allergy season will keep him and other allergists busy until early June.