Hundreds of New Haven residents, in both uniform and plain clothes, lined George Street on Saturday morning to offer words of tribute and mourning in honor of the late Sgt. Dario “Scott” Aponte.
The procession led its way up to St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church — less than two miles away from the fatal accident that claimed Aponte’s life Tuesday night, and just blocks away from Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Aponte was 43.
“My official state words of condolence are far less eloquent than that long line of blue outside paying homage,” State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 said, according to the New Haven Independent. “Sgt. Aponte was a calm presence at countless scenes of domestic violence. He was a steady hand at accidents. He was a dedicated professional at crime scenes. He was a true hero, and he will be sorely missed.”
Aponte was responding to a report of a domestic-violence incident, a man allegedly beating a woman outside at 53-55 Maltby St., when he died last week.
A recording of the 911 call made to the NHPD’s dispatch center featured a woman anxiously describing the scene: a bald, black man in a white T-shirt beating a Hispanic woman.
“Are [the police] coming?” the caller cried. “He’s going to kill her.”
Before he even made it to the scene, Aponte’s cruiser collided with that of officer Diane Gonzalez at about 11:27 p.m.
The crash, which took place at the corner of Chapel and East streets, was devastating for both the officers.
Gonzalez was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and later declared to be in critical condition.
She sustained serious head injuries from the crash. City Hall Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said Sunday that her status had not changed.
Friday, police arrested the two individuals involved with the domestic-violence call — Ricky Williams, 32, and Evelyn Borrero, 38 — and charged them with breach of peace.
Saturday, Aponte’s former colleagues and friends lauded him for his strong character and professionalism.
“The qualities [Aponte] brought to this calling day after day … are a big heart, a steady hand and a good soul,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said, according to The New Haven Register. “Those qualities make him a hero and we will always be grateful. New Haven is a better place, and we are all better people for his life.”
Less than two weeks ago, the city of New Haven unveiled a memorial dedicated to the lives of public servants who had lost their lives in the line of duty.
Families of the late officers were in attendance Saturday. Pictures of those who had fallen hung in the department’s headquarters at 1 Union Ave.
Perhaps the gravity of an officer’s death was best expressed earlier this year by Francisco Ortiz, former chief of the New Haven Police Department.
“These guys died protecting the city and engaging in public service,” Ortiz told the News, referring to officers Daniel Picagli and Robert Fumiatti, whom the department lost in late 2006 and early 2007, respectively. “To assume that these people get paid to die, it would be a disservice to their lives.”
Aponte, a 17-year veteran of the department, is survived by his wife, Ofc. Donna Aponte of the NHPD, and four children.