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CT State Trooper killed by hit driver who was high on drugs, previously convicted of 3rd degree murder | Law enforcement today

SOUTHINGTON, CT – The Connecticut State Police (CSP) and police officers throughout Connecticut and New England are mourning after Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier was killed in the line of duty while conducting targeted traffic enforcement on Interstate 84 in Southington, CT Insider reports.

Pelletier, 34, was on the east side of the highway, working as part of a High Visibility Motor Vehicle Enforcement grant, which ironically was intended to reduce fatal motor vehicle crashes. Trooper Pelletier, a nine-year veteran of the CSP, and assigned to Troop H in Hartford, observed an operator not wearing a seat belt. After pulling the vehicle over, Pelletier was standing outside the vehicle talking to the operator when a red pickup truck sideswiped his patrol vehicle and struck him, fatally injuring him. The vehicle fled the scene.

Pelletier, a K9 officer, had his K9 partner in the vehicle with him, but the dog was not injured. Trooper Pelletier succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

On Friday, CSP announced that they had arrested a suspect in connection with the death of their colleague. Alex Oyola-Sanchez, 44, of Zion Street in Hartford was charged with second-degree manslaughter and several other charges, including operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and evading responsibility.

Oyola-Sanchez also admitted to officers that he had used drugs earlier in the day, reportedly taking $20 worth of fentanyl, which he obtained from a drug dealer, and $20 worth of powder cocaine. Court documents show another driver drove up to Oyola-Sanchez to yell at him for hitting a state trooper, to which Oyola-Sanchez responded, “I know,” and kept driving.

Oyola-Sanchez’s immigration status is unknown, although he is believed to be a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico. His bond was set at $1.5 million and he is scheduled to appear in court on June 6.

It has emerged that Oyola-Sanchez has also previously been convicted of third-degree murder and attempted murder.

On Friday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont ordered all U.S. and Connecticut state flags to fly at half-staff in honor of the fallen trooper.

“This is devastating news and a tragic reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face every day when they leave their homes and go to work,” Lamont said.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-CT) spoke at a news conference Thursday evening.

“What is so tragic about this day, and about the loss of him, is that his life was lost while conducting a routine traffic stop, in an effort to stop speeding, in an effort to make our roads safer, in an effort to keep the public safe by ensuring everyone who drives is wearing their seat belt,” she said.

For Bysiewicz, Trooper Pelletier’s death was especially hard, as she and her driver went through a checkpoint in Wallingford, CT a few weeks ago. It was Pelletier who urged them on and had them lower their car windows to make sure they were wearing their seat belts.

“He actually stopped me and my state trooper, Belcher, because he couldn’t see through our smoked windows and he wanted to know if we were wearing our seat belts,” Bysewicz said.

She said Pelletier recognized her driver, “smiled and waved us goodbye.” She said other soldiers laughed about the detail “because they knew he was very committed and that he would stop the lieutenant governor just to make sure she was wearing her seat belt.”

As Trooper Pelletier’s body left the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Farmington, CT, hundreds of first responders lined streets and highway overpasses as a procession led by police motorcycles and cruisers escorted the hearse to a funeral home in Southington – which ironically is where Pelletier grew up.

NBCCT reported that Pelletier worked as a corrections officer assigned to the Hartford Correctional Center until he left on June 12, 2015, to become a State Police Trooper intern.

“The tragic loss of Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier hits especially close to home, as he was one of our department’s correctional officers before joining the state police,” Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros said in a statement.

“Private Pelletier’s death reminds us of the selfless sacrifice made every day by every member of the law enforcement community,” Quiros added.

Pelletier graduated from Southington High School in 2007 and from Central Connecticut State University in 2011, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and a minor in Business. The university community mourns his death.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Pelletier family and the Connecticut State Police. Graduates like TFC Pelletier go out into the world and excel in their field. By all accounts, his dedication to public service and community safety was unparalleled,” Central Connecticut State President Zulma R. Toro said in a statement.

The university said faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology are heartbroken and many praised Pelletier as an outstanding student. They said the CCSU Blue Devil family will join the rest of the state in flying flags at half-staff in honor of their fallen alumnus.

Tributes poured in from across Connecticut for the fallen trooper:

“He was an outstanding Trooper and a wonderful person. We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends directly affected by the tragic loss. Rest in peace Trooper, we got the watch from here” – CSP Troop B

“Trooper Pelletier’s dedication, courage and unwavering commitment to protecting and serving the public exemplify the highest standards of our profession. His sacrifice will not be forgotten, and his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us.” ” – MIddletown (CT) Police Department.

Fox 61 reported that CSP has authorized a GoFundMe page to support Trooper Pelletier’s young family. It can be accessed here.

CSP officials noted that unsavory actors often try to profit from such tragedies, noting that the above is the only state police-approved fundraising source for the family. CSP said the page was created by Pelletier’s colleagues at Troop H and approved by the trooper’s family.

Trooper Pelletier is survived by his wife, Dominique, and two young sons, Troy and Zachary, state police said.