Nine arrested in Crown Street brawl

A fight broke out as clubgoers left Static on Crown Street early Sunday. All on-duty police officers in the entire city were called in for backup.
A fight broke out as clubgoers left Static on Crown Street early Sunday. All on-duty police officers in the entire city were called in for backup. Photo by Colin Ross.

Crown Street verged on a riot early Sunday morning when a boozy brawl left eight New Haven police officers needing medical attention, nine people arrested and a police dog in harm’s way.

Just before 2 a.m., police tried to disperse drunken clubgoers as they left the nightclubs, but part of the crowd turned on the officers and attacked them. NHPD spokesman Joe Avery said the officers were only able to subdue the crowd when reinforcements arrived. The incident is the second large fight in the area in the last three months, which has prompted Ward 3 Alderwoman Jackie James-Evans to propose a law that would ban underage patrons from New Haven’s clubs.

Police clashed with clubgoers leaving Hula Hanks and Static on Crown Street last Sunday morning. Nine people were arrested.
Police clashed with clubgoers leaving Hula Hanks and Static on Crown Street last Sunday morning. Nine people were arrested.

As 2 a.m. approached, at least eight NHPD officers stood outside the bars of New Haven’s lively Crown Street and braced for the surge of intoxicated people that would soon be headed their way, some of whom would be looking for a fight, according to the police report.

Sure enough, as people congregated on the streets, a fight broke out between two men at 212 Crown St., outside the clubs Static and Hula Hanks. Police made their way through the crowd toward the fight, trying to maintain some semblance of order in what they described as utter chaos, according to the police report.

Because of the large number of intoxicated people inundating the street, Officer J. Kaczor said in his report that the small detail of officers had moved close together as it attempted to clear the street.

When Officer Roy Davis attempted to break up the fight, one of the unruly men, Ross Massey, 29, of Wallingford, Conn., attacked him. After Massey started yelling, flailing his arms and spitting at the police, officers say he tackled Davis to the ground, jumped on him and started hitting him in the stomach and legs. According to the police report, Officer Chris Fennessy tried to help Davis, but Massey tossed him aside and continued to pummel Davis as he lay on the ground, pinned between the curb and a parked car. Kaczor then started to step in to help Davis but was attacked from behind by Massey’s friend Timothy Heffernan.

Heffernan had jumped on Kaczor’s back and was trying to hold him back while shouting that Massey was not fighting the police. After a violent struggle that lasted just over a minute, the police tasered and then detained Heffernan.

Meanwhile, Davis was still trapped under Massey, who Davis said was trying to choke him. As Davis reached behind for his baton, he realized his belt had come undone. While simultaneously trying to keep his gun out of Massey’s reach, he searched the ground for his baton, found it, and pushed Massey off of him. The police were then able to pull Massey away and detain him, though he continued to struggle and even broke the right hand of one of the officers who pulled him off.

“He never stopped fighting,” Davis wrote of Massey in his police report.

While the police were busy subduing and arresting the two men, a crowd had surrounded them and several other fights broke out nearby. Though the police tried to disperse the onlookers by spraying mace, the crowd remained in place and the situation took a turn for the worse when clubgoers started throwing bottles from the Temple Street parking complex at the police several stories below.

The downtown district police supervisor called for all available officers in the entire city to rush to Crown Street to control the situation. The chaos was finally contained and the crowd dispersed when state police showed up, with a police dog, named Trooper Neo. Confronted by the dog, most left the scene, but one man tried to kick Neo and was arrested.

Though it remains to be seen whether the city will restrict who goes to nightclubs, the city will soon change who guards them. Currently, clubs choose the police officers that patrol their clubs on busy weekend nights. That will change starting March 1 — under the new system, the police department will assign which cops provide security at the clubs. NHPD Chief Lewis has said the old system makes for potential security problems because officers would be responsible to individual bars, not the police department, in emergencies.

All together, eight officers were taken to the hospital, though none sustained major injuries. Police arrested nine people on a range of misdemeanors and felonies, including assaulting a police officer.

There are an average of 714 assaults against police officers a year in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Uniform Crime Reporting Program.


  • y11

    This awesome. New Haven FTW!

  • Yale ’10

    While both Massey and Heffernan were (likely) out of line in this situation, you have to realize that New Haven police do not always conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism.

    It is true that many drunk folks do look for fights on Crown Street or outside Toads/ at Yorkside or by the fraternities, but I’ve also witnessed many instances in which there are police officers who look for fights, trample civil rights, abuse there authority and do an extraordinarily poor job handling situations by escalating rather than defusing them. For instance, when the Crown Street clubs let out on Thursday nights, the police routinely walk through the crowd waving batons, shoving people and yelling that they will be arrested if they don’t move immediately. Many of these people are innocently standing on the sidewalk with no intention of causing trouble and are simply waiting for friends to find coats and come out before heading home.

    At the start I stated that Massey and Heffernan were “likely” out of line because you have to take this article with a grain of salt given that it was written purely based on the content of the police report (I’d be willing to wager that individuals involved or some of the witnesses might have a slightly different version of events). Even in their own police report however, the officers involved state that they tried to disperse an innocent crowd of passive onlookers by spraying them with mace – does nobody find that troubling?!?!?!? Perhaps the (mis)behavior of the police explains why some of the bystanders, admittedly inexcusably, started throwing bottles from the Temple Street parking complex at the police several stories below.

    If the police simply did their jobs and abide by the law instead of abusing their authority and going on power trips (as I have on numerous occasions witnessed them do), perhaps people would have more respect for them and behave accordingly. Just a thought…

  • Yale ’08

    I too have gotten the mean end of the NHPD baton. Well, not literally. But a small misunderstanding during Senior Week resulted in several cop cars surrounding me from every corner. The harassment that ensued was totally unnecessary.

  • super

    Do not let the detached legal language of police reports fool you. New Haven cops have a terrible record of escalating conflict. The YDN should know better than simply to rehash the police report in an article. And once that report is written, that’s it: you need video evidence of police abuse to even have any chance of your word counting against theirs. NYPD’s shameful record continues.

  • joey2cents

    In this report the Police are accusing bar patrons of soon to be looking for a fight. WTF “We were armed to the gills”
    It starts to sound like the bars a re a place the PD can go and have a seal clubbing. Let’s have a fair fight and give the patrons a trident or a net or two.
    And just what happened after the cops went a goading some drunks ?
    One guy hit a cop and he fell into all 8 , like duckpins.
    Or the Police awake from a typical snooze fest, swinging and running to and fro like a tenured boxing ex-champ from the 50’s – ding ding.
    I’ve seen them catching zzz’s in churches while mass is being served. The supervisor called it a ,”sleepover , i mean layover ”
    And reports ? Pleease , pile on the lies in the hope of someone believing one of them.
    Of course there are drunks, and of course they do look for fights, i guess until we hear some eyewitness accounts , well we have actually. Over at WTNH I’ve heard a few attendees and recipients of a much publicized force.

  • Raphael

    That’s scary–it could have been me!

  • ’11

    There was a shooting right there on Friday night.

    Of course we didn’t hear about it because of it’s technically just outside the Perrotti email limit.

  • Go Home

    WOW…the comments left by you people never seem to amaze me. If you have a problem with the city, the mayor, the police, the laws, the people…GO HOME. One person above said the NYPD continues their shameful record…seriously…Another person said people were just innocently standing around. Technically that’s called loitering. NHPD has a very simple outlook when clubs close. people come to have a good time, fine, club closes…GO HOME. this is nothing new…people make excuses to justify fighting with a cop, that’s pitiful. Aside from being a sworn officer, commissioned to uphold the law and protect the public, those men probably have families, that don’t want to get a phone call telling them their husbands and fathers died because some tweaker or drunk beat him up just to make a name for himself, or some other toolbag smashed him with beer bottle from the parking garage above. Grow up, take your degree you bought from Yale and GO HOME.

  • Y’98

    The city needs to zone most of these resource leaches out of existence.