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Investigation underway after West Hartford police officer shoots and kills person

State police officers seal off the windows of a vehicle at the scene of an incident during which a West Hartford police officer shot and killed a person on Tuesday afternoon.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
State police officers seal off the windows of a vehicle at the scene of an incident during which a West Hartford police officer shot and killed a person on Tuesday afternoon.

A West Hartford police officer shot and killed a suspected car thief Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The incident took place around 5 p.m. on New Britain Avenue near New Park Avenue.

The name of the person who was shot was not released as of Wednesday evening, but police arrested one suspect in connection with the incident.

Prior to the shooting, officers were following what they believed was a stolen vehicle, said West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick.

An officer deployed stop sticks, but the vehicle continued driving and eventually crashed, Riddick said.

Two people were in the car. Lyle Solsbury, 47, of West Hartford, allegedly fled on foot after the crash and was later apprehended by police.

But a second individual allegedly entered a nearby tire shop and got into an altercation with an employee inside the garage bay, police said.

At some point, police said the suspect entered a car at the tire shop.

A K-9 was used to try to subdue the individual, but when an officer reached inside the car to get the dog and make an arrest, Riddick said the suspect "put the vehicle in drive and drove off" with the officer still inside.

The car then allegedly hit a police car and another car. "Despite repeated efforts and orders to stop the vehicle, the individual did not," Riddick said.

The officer, who has not been identified, shot the suspect from inside the car. The vehicle then crashed into a telephone pole. Police and paramedics administered CPR and brought the driver to the hospital, where police say he was declared dead.

The officer involved in the shooting sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and was transported to an area hospital for treatment. He was later released, Riddick said.

Juan Velez said he works at a used car dealership on the same street and shared what he saw at the scene.

“I saw a vehicle just plowing through everything — tires, people were moving out of the way, I think he might have hit a police SUV there," Velez said. "The guy wouldn’t stop.”

Velez said when he saw the driver pulled out into the street, he heard several gunshots and then saw the car drive into a pole.

Riddick said the K-9 involved in the incident was unharmed.

West Hartford Police directed further questions to the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

Connecticut Public's Kay Perkins and Tyler Russell contributed to this story. This story has been updated.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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