Michael Koistinen, a former Windsor Locks police officer who struck and killed a 15-year-old bicyclist with a car in October 2010, pleaded no contest on Tuesday to second-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
Koistinen was scheduled to go to trial next week, but instead he accepted an offer from prosecutors that will put him in prison for five years and four months.
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Hartford, CT, USA
The family of the victim, Henry Dang, declined to comment. Their attorney, Kathryn Calibey, said the family does not object to the deal that was reached.
The full sentence is 15 years, suspended after 64 months, followed by five years of probation. Dang's family requested that, as part of his probation, Koistinen serve 100 hours of community service lecturing on the dangers of drunken driving.
Koistinen's attorney, Raymond Hassett, said he would comment at the sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 27.
Koistinen's father, former Windsor Locks police Sgt. Robert Koistinen, has yet to be tried for his role in the aftermath of the crash. He was on duty at the time and was the first police supervisor to arrive at the scene.
He is charged with hindering prosecution and interfering with police — accused of removing his son from the scene and for preventing authorities from administering a blood test.
Both Koistinens lost their jobs as a result of the crash and their arrests.
Michael Koistinen had spent the day drinking and was speeding when he struck Dang with his father's car just after midnight on Oct. 30, 2010, in Windsor Locks, Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy said.
She said she would have argued at trial that Koistinen's actions on the day of the crash were reckless.
Koistinen started drinking at a friend's house and continued at a tailgating party outside a University of Connecticut football game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. He went back to the friend's house when they couldn't get in to the game and then went to the Suffield Tavern, Hardy said.
Surveillance video from the bar shows Koistinen drinking beer and shots of tequila less than half an hour before the crash.
One of the residents near the crash site, at Spring and West streets, told police that she saw the driver search for something in his car and toss something in her yard. She said that he appeared drunk by the way he staggered and stumbled around the car.
A regional accident investigation squad that initially investigated the crash found a glass with a Budweiser logo in the woman's yard. A closed 30-pack of beer, several bottle caps and blackberry brandy were found in the car. Ten to 12 beer cans were found in a cooler in the trunk of the vehicle, Hardy said.
However, emergency personnel at the scene said that Koistinen showed no signs of being under the influence of alcohol.
Hardy said that Koistinen could have avoided the collision if he had been traveling at the posted speed limit of 35 mph. A state police investigation found that he had been going between 64 and 73 mph.
A civil suit brought by the Dang family against Robert Koistinen and his wife, who owned the car that their son was driving, and the Suffield Tavern, has been settled. The family received $420,000, according to probate court records.
Their attorney has filed a notice of intent to sue the town of Windsor Locks, but no formal lawsuit has been filed.
First Selectman Steve Wawruck declined to comment, citing the pending civil litigation.
Kevin Brace, chairman of the Windsor Locks Police Commission, said: "This is an extremely unfortunate and difficult situation. We will monitor the case closely as it proceeds."
State police arrested both Koistinens after Hardy asked the agency to investigate the crash. Initially, the regional accident investigation squad, made up of officers from Windsor Locks and other communities, was investigating the crash.
— Courant staff writer Dave Altimari contributed to this story.