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Man Charged after Scuffle with West Hartford Police Breaks Sprinkler Head and Floods Cell

Leroy John Herr. Courtesy of West Hartford Police

West Hartford Police arrested a man early Sunday morning after a scuffle that resulted in injury to two officers, and while in custody the man managed to break a sprinkler head which flooded the holding cell.

By Ronni Newton

What started as a disagreement between two people as bars were closing early Sunday morning in West Hartford Center turned into a scuffle between an officer and one of the individuals, and ultimately resulted in injury to two officers and a broken sprinkler head that caused a holding cell at police headquarters to flood.

According to police, officers on regular patrol observed a disagreement between two people at 1:44 a.m. Sunday on the sidewalk near 36 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center.

The disagreement was beginning to escalate, police said, and as officers approached, one of the individuals, Leroy John Herr, 33, of New Mexico, “immediately challenged officers about his rights and came within inches of an officers’s face,” an incident report states.

Herr refused to back away when instructed by police to do so, and the officer backed away but Herr continued to challenge the officer, police said. The officer pushed Herr away by placing his hands on Herr’s chest, but according to Capt. Jeremy Clark, Herr then attempted a martial arts move to gain a choke hold on the officer.

A scuffle ensued, police said, resulting in minor injuries to two officers that included abrasions to the hands and knees as well as a wrist injury.

Several officers who were at the scene assisted, and Herr was taken into custody.

It was a tense situation, with a crowd on the sidewalk closely surrounding the action, Clark said. “Officers were extremely judicious in dealing with this,” he said. The subject was “hostile, aggressive, [and] trained” Clark said.

Clark said that the officer who had initially been pushed was also trained in martial arts, and said Herr later stated, “I guess I picked the wrong guy to mess around with.”

Herr continued to resist arrest when he was brought to police headquarters, where he proceeded to remove all of his clothing.

Police placed Herr in a holding cell, restraining his hands behind his back with hinged handcuffs that were attached to a holding bar in the cell to limit his mobility for safety reasons. According to police, Herr managed to break the hinged handcuffs and free his hands, and then immediately jumped up and broke the head off a sprinkler in the cell block, flooding the area and causing damage.

Herr was brought into a different holding cell, and is currently in custody on $125,000 bond.

He has been charged with second-degree breach of peace, interfering with an officer, two counts of assault on a police officer, and first degree criminal mischief.

Repairs to the cell block will need to be made, Clark said. It is not currently usable.

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