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Darien to pay $427,500 as part of a $3.5 million settlement against five towns

Published 10:24 am, Sunday, March 31, 2013
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The town of Darien is set to pay $427,500 of a $3.5 million settlement in the death of Gonzalo Guizan during the execution of a search warrant at a house in Easton during May of 2008.

The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, or CIRMA, the town's insurance carrier, will pay the settlement and the town will have no further liability in the suit known as Estate of Guizan vs. Town of Darien and Chief Duane Lovello.

According to Darien Administrative Officer Karl Kilduff, CIRMA began putting money into a reserve when the suit was filed. Kilduff said CIRMA calculates what the final settlement may cost.

Monroe, Easton, Wilton and Trumbull are also expected to contribute to the settlement, which will go to the Guizan family.

Monroe is currently in litigation, and an amount has not been released. Art Laske, the Trumbull town attorney, did not indicate what Trumbull's portion of the settlement is, and said the towns may not be required to release that information, even though Darien did.

Easton and Wilton have not responded to messages left with the first selectmen's offices.

In a description of occurrence and injuries provided by Morgan P. Ruekert, on Sunday, May 18, 2008, Capt. James Candee and Officer Christopher Barton of the Easton police submitted search warrant application to enter 91 Dogwood Dr., Easton to locate "two small, clear, glass smoking pipes and crack cocaine in a tin box."

Ruekert is the attorney for Susana D. Guizan, the administrator for the estate of Gonzalo Guizan.

Former Easton Police Chief John "Jack" Solomon's lawyer, Catherine Nietzel, said that the raid was based on a valid search warrant.

The raid on Terebesi's home at 91 Dogwood Drive, Easton, on May 18, 2008, was organized by Solomon. who according to pretrial depositions, had been under pressure to do something about Terebesi, who was considered a blot on the neighborhood.

Terebesi, who entertained exotic dancers at his home and was once found passed out in the house as a result of drug abuse, had been the subject of neighborhood meetings.

The situation escalated when a boyfriend of one of the dancer's shot up Terebesi's house.

On the morning of May 18, a dancer called Easton police to say she had seen a small amount of drugs in Terebesi's home. The woman later admitted she had left the house after a dispute with him.

At about 2 p.m., members of the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team left the Easton Emergency Medical Service offices after being warned by Solomon and others that Terbesi was armed and would most likely shoot at police.

Solomon and the team leaders drove off in sport-utility vehicles, while the rest boarded their large armored transport. As they rolled into the neighborhood, residents either ran into their homes or let curiosity get the better of them. One woman followed the two snipers as they got off the transport and headed into the woods.

With a video camera rolling, the men lined up with Monroe officer Michael Sweeney in the lead. Behind him was Trumbull officer Brian Weir, his M4 assault rifle pointed over Sweeney's shoulder.

At that point, they began a countdown. At "one" there was the sound of breaking glass and the explosions of flashbang grenades at the other side of the house. The back door was smashed open, and the group went in, Weir yelling, "Police, warrant."

There was another explosion as a flashbang went off. Sweeney yelled "I'm hit, I'm hit," and then there was the sound of gunfire.

It was over in less than 16 seconds.

A lifeless Guizan, 33, lay on the floor with six gunshot wounds, one through his left hand that penetrated his chest, two shots to the abdomen, one in the left groin, one to the right knee and one to the right upper arm.

Terebesi, who had been pinned by Sweeney, was handcuffed and pulled from the house.

Team members found two crack pipes and a tin containing a small amount of cocaine, but no guns.

Sweeney received his department's Office of the Year award for his part in the raid. In later interviews with state police and in depositions, he claimed he fired at Guizan because he felt his life was in danger.

As Sweeney had entered Terebesi's home, the third flashbang had gone off. Debris from the explosion hit him in the chest and foot, and he mistakenly thought someone in the house was shooting at him, reports said.

When he yelled that he had been hit, Weir, believing his comrade was under attack, fired one shot but didn't hit anyone.

Sweeney said later that he had taken three or four steps into the room and then looked to his right, where he saw Terebesi and Guizan in a corner.

He said he took two or three shuffle steps toward them. At that point, he said Terebesi and Guizan came toward him. Terebesi pushed and pulled on Sweeney's shield while Guizan grabbed at Sweeney's gun hand, he said, pulling it down.

Sweeney said he began to lose his grip on his pistol and began firing until he felt Guizan let go. According to the video, this confrontation would have occurred in about a second. Weir said later he saw no struggle between Sweeney and the two men.

During a deposition, Sweeney asked: "Why didn't we just knock on the door?"

mspicer@bcnnew.com;203-972-4407;twitter.com/Meg_DarienNews

dtepfer@ctpost.203-330-6308; http:// twitter.com/dantepfer