By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
NAUGATUCK — A 24-year-old Waterbury man suspected of being the driver of a Dodge Charger that drove at an officer, who then shot several times at the car, during a traffic stop earlier this week turned himself in Friday morning.
Roznovsky Machado, who police have been searching for since Monday night, turned himself in on an arrest warrant at about 3:30 a.m., according to police. Police charged him with attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, engaging an officer in a pursuit and assaulting an officer, among other charges.
Deputy Police Chief C. Colin McAllister said Machado was not injured when he surrendered.
The charges stem from a traffic stop that turned into an officer-involved shooting on the Route 8 northbound on-ramp at Maple Street at about 8 p.m. Monday.
Officer Kevin Zainc pulled over the Charger after seeing what he thought was a hand-to-hand drug sale involving the car, according to Joseph T. Corradino, state’s attorney for the district of Fairfield, who is heading up the use of force investigation with state police.
Zainc, who has been a Naugatuck police officer for 15 years, spotted the Charger driving down the Route 8 south Exit 27 off-ramp, according to Machado’s arrest warrant. Zainc states in the warrant he recognized Machado, who was the only one in the car, from past criminal cases. Zainc states Machado is known to sell heroin, fentanyl and crack, and have a suspended driver’s license.
The warrant states Zainc watched as the car drove to and pulled over on Oak Street, and he saw what he believed to be a drug deal go down.
Zainc then pulled the Charger over on the on-ramp. Sgt. Nicholas Kehoss, a 10-year member of the force, responded to provide backup.
At first, Machado cooperates with Zainc, according to footage from body cameras worn by Zainc and Kehoss. Machado provides his name, but says he doesn’t have a license. Machado denied making a drug deal when Zainc tells him that’s why he was pulled over.
Zainc states Machado’s demeanor then changed and he thought Machado would try to flee, according to the warrant.
As Zainc heads back to his SUV after speaking with Machado, he appears to tell Kehoss that Machado is going to take off, according to the video. The officers briefly talk and then Kehoss pulls his SUV in front of the Charger to block it in.
As Kehoss gets out of the SUV, Machado puts the car in gear. Zainc can be heard yelling “Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” as Machado rams the SUV and drives toward Kehoss as he flees.
Kehoss fires at the Charger at least once as it drives toward him and again as it flees, the video shows. It appears that Kehoss fired three or four shots, according to the footage.
Zainc states in the warrant that he didn’t draw his weapon “to engage the vehicle” because it was driving away from him and Kehoss was in his line of fire.
Both officers pursued the Charger onto Route 8, but weren’t able to catch up to the car.
The warrant states Kehoss was hit by the cruiser after it was rammed. Kehoss suffered heavy burisng to his left side and was treated at Saint Mary’s Hospital. He has been placed on administrative assignment, which is routine when officers fire their sidearm during an encounter.
Police located the Charger, which was rented by Machado’s mother, behind a multi-family home at 41 Vine St. in Watebury Tuesday morning. State police seized the car as evidence.
Detectives from multiple agencies spent the days after the shooting searching for Machado and talking with his family and associates, McAllister said.
“It’s my belief that as a result of that he was finally convinced by his associates and family members to voluntarily surrender,” McAllister said.
Machado was arraigned in Waterbury Superior Court on Friday. His bond was set at $350,000 and he’s scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 2.
The investigation into Kehoss’ use of force is ongoing.
When questioned whether Kehoss shooting at the car followed proper procedure, McAllister said the state’s attorney office is investigating whether there’s any potential criminal aspect of it. He said the department is conducting an internal review and administrative investigation, which will run concurrent with the state’s attorney’s investigation.
There is no time frame as to when the investigations will be completed.
“I do want to assure the public and the community that we will be thorough, and making sure that everything is done — every I is dotted, every T is crossed — is going to be out primary objective, and not necessarily time,” McAllister said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original post.