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News ::
Teenager injured by cop rubber bullet
20 Jul 2004
With the crack down at dissent, we have come to realize that "less lethal weapons" are a reality at demonstrations but they are spreading to 'calm' 'disturbances' at concerts and colleges.
Eye Injury Blamed On Police
Teenage Son Of Radio Personality Shot In Melee Near Meadows Concert

July 20, 2004
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer

The son of a local radio personality received the crushing news Monday that he is likely to lose sight in his right eye, after, he says, a Hartford police officer shot him with nonlethal ammunition outside the Dave Matthews Band concert.

Matthew Goldsich, 19, of Avon, had emergency surgery Saturday night because his eye socket was shattered. Medical personnel thought his injury was consistent with a rubber bullet, said his father, WTIC radio personality Ray Dunaway.

Goldsich, who didn't have a ticket for the concert, said he was in a nearby parking lot partying with his friends when a fight broke out between two groups. He said he realized that if they didn't stop, the police who had already fired chemicals into the crowd would escalate their enforcement.

"They were whipping bottles at police. There was a melee. It was like a war zone," Goldsich said. "I was trying to tell [the bottle throwers] to stop."

Goldsich said he was walking toward the group that was throwing rocks and bottles at police from a parking lot near the ctnow.com Meadows Music Theater when he saw a Hartford officer aim his weapon in Goldsich's direction from 50 yards away. Goldsich said he didn't think the officer would shoot him because he wasn't doing anything wrong.

After being hit, Goldsich said, he took off his white T-shirt and used it as a temporary bandage over his eye, which was covered with blood. He said he held up his other hand to beckon to the officer, because he needed an ambulance. But, Goldsich said, the officer who shot him and three or four officers brushed him off or responded with rude and abusive language.

"Turn the [expletive] around," Goldsich said the officer, who shot him, yelled at him.

"I don't want to say police brutality, but I'll say unnecessary force" was used, said Goldsich, who said he intends to file a complaint but does not know the name of the officer who shot him. "Something needs to be done about this," he said. Goldsich found help from his friends, and he went to a local hospital.

Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett said he is taking Goldsich's story seriously and is encouraging Goldsich and Dunaway to make a formal complaint with the department's internal affairs division.

"It's a terrible tragedy if a peacemaker got caught in the middle," Harnett said. "`If' is the operative word. We're investigating the circumstances."

Harnett has launched an investigation of how his department responded when the rock- and bottle-throwing fight broke out.

He said Monday that officers fired smoke, pepper spray, rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles - all of which are considered nonlethal weapons. Twenty-five people were arrested and at least three partyers and an officer were injured.

Hartford police in the past have had to break up disturbances when the Dave Matthews Band came to town. In 1999, riots in the former jai alai parking lot ended with burned automobiles, dozens of injuries and more than 50 arrests. Police used nonlethal weapons to disperse the crowd.

The Meadows changed its procedures after that incident so only ticket holders are allowed into Meadows parking lots for tailgating before a performance. Such rules do not govern nearby parking lots, where many of the problems occurred this weekend, said Jim Koplik, president of Clear Channel in Connecticut, which owns and operates the Meadows.

Performances by the Dave Matthews Band in other cities this year, and on past tours, have been mostly incident free.

"I said to Dave [Matthews], `These aren't your fans, these are troublemakers, these are outsiders,'" Koplik said. "He's not thrilled and we're not thrilled - it hurts our names."

Police said those arrested Saturday were mostly charged with trespassing, underage drinking and disorderly conduct at parking lots near the concert venue, and they are expected to answer those charges today and Wednesday in Hartford Community Court.

Goldsich was not arrested, police records show.

Although Harnett did not know the specifics of the Goldsich incident, he said, members of the police department videotaped parts of the melee, which lasted less than 30 minutes. Two groups were fighting and throwing bottles at each other when police used loudspeakers to order the groups to disband. "The larger majority of young people moved on," Harnett said.

But the rest of the group, some of whom were "unruly," refused to move, Harnett said, and "the disorder team" was unsuccessful when team members ordered them out, he said.

"They were playing a game of `Let's get the cops,' and they were behind cars heaving bottles at them," Harnett said.

The disorder team first tried to smoke them out. The team then used pepper spray and a "stinger" gun aimed at their feet, Harnett said. After those steps failed, the team fired rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles at people "acting outside of the law," Harnett said.

The department policy says officers should not fire projectiles into a crowd. The officer must have a specific target not more than 20 yards away and the nonlethal weapons must be fired at the lower body, Harnett said.

Dunaway said his son is 6 feet 4.

In general, Harnett said, the nonlethal rounds lose their momentum beyond 20 yards. That raises a question about Goldsich's recollection that the officer who shot him was about 50 yards away.

In one incident Saturday, another man was hit in the chest with a beanbag because he was hurling bottles at police officers, Harnett said. The incident involving Goldsich, Harnett said, was not captured on videotape. "I don't know that the video does justice to what was going on," Harnett said.

Harnett said he wants the department to devise a better plan with theater and parking lot owners that will improve crowd control before a situation turns violent.

"The city and police department can make it better so it's not allowed to spiral out of control with too much drinking," Harnett said.

Confrontations between Hartford police and people outside concerts are not rare - there have also been clashes in recent years at performances by The Dead, Phish and Pearl Jam. The latter two now refuse Hartford bookings, Koplik has said, and Pearl Jam chastised Hartford officers in the liner notes to the band's 1998 concert recording, "Live on Two Legs," with a Pink Floyd lyric: "Leave them kids alone," the band wrote.

Koplik said he faxed a letter last week to Mayor Eddie A. Perez, City Manager Lee C. Erdmann and Councilwoman Elizabeth Horton Sheff recommending the city take adequate security precautions there. "I was well aware - and so was the city - of the potential for problems in that lot," Koplik said.

Representatives for the Dave Matthews Band could not be reached for comment.

After Goldsich's surgery he was told that he had a 30-to-50 percent chance of seeing out of his right eye. But after a doctor's appointment Monday afternoon, Dunaway said, the prognosis was more bleak.

The father, whose name is Ray Goldsich when he's not using his stage name of Ray Dunaway, is a frequent supporter of police on his morning radio show.

He said he believes his son's account of the incident, but added, "It's hard for me. I want to think it was an accident. I know the Hartford cops have a rough job. [This sort of thing happens] when some people aren't trained or should not be cops."

Courant Staff Writer Eric R. Danton contributed to this story.
See also:
http://www.ctnow.com/news/custom/topnews/hc-eyeinjury0720.artjul20,1,7225378.story?coll=hc-headlines-topnews

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Comments

Re: Teenager injured by cop rubber bullet
21 Jul 2004
"The father, whose name is Ray Goldsich when he's not using his stage name of Ray Dunaway, is a frequent supporter of police on his morning radio show."

chickens, home, roost
Re: Teenager injured by cop rubber bullet
22 Jul 2004
"I don't want to say police brutality, but I'll say unnecessary force"

what an idiot. so some conservative middle class white kid got the treatment that poor folks, people of color and activists are used to.

i do like the thought of a mini-riot against cops at a Dave Matthews-Clear Channel concert.
Re: Teenager injured by cop rubber bullet
22 Jul 2004
To Me
Whine, wimper, snivel, you are the idiot. some middle class, white kid, etc,etc. So you are a racist scumbag who only rallies to the ones you consider "oppressed". No one else matters. What a poster child for the liberals. What an ignorant fool you are.