MERIDEN — Police say they arrested a local man on drunken driving charges after he drove through a road work area, almost ran over an officer and got into an argument with another driver.
Steven Schmidt, 52, of 82 Carter Ave. Ext., was arrested Monday and charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, first-degree reckless endangerment, striking an officer with a motor vehicle, engaging police in pursuit, evading responsibility, criminal attempt to commit first-degree assault, assault on an officer and other motor vehicle charges.
According to police reports, two officers were directing traffic shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday at a road construction site on Old Colony Road. The officers were allowing the northbound traffic to go, while the southbound traffic was stopped, the report said.
The driver of a Toyota pickup truck tried to turn and almost struck another pickup truck that was driving straight, the report said. The two drivers got into an argument. One of the officers directed the driver of the Toyota to pull over to the side of the road, the report said.
The driver, identified as Schmidt, ignored the officer’s commands and continued to accelerate, the report said. The second officer was standing in the road, and Schmidt drove at the officer, while the first officer yelled for Schmidt to stop, the report said. Schmidt braked hard and his truck came to a stop about 10 feet from the officer, the report said. The officer told Schmidt to turn off the truck, as Schmidt stared at the officer and “appeared to be enraged ... gripping the steering wheel aggressively” with a “grimaced look on his face,” the report said.
Schmidt then accelerated, and the officer had to place his hands on the hood of the truck and push off to get out of the way of the truck, the report said. The officer noted that if he had not been able to push off the hood of the truck, he would have been run over and “seriously injured or killed,” the report said. The officer said this was a “deadly force situation” and if there had been more time to react, the officer would have used “deadly force to protect” himself, the report said.
Officers found Schmidt on South Broad Street the report said. When police confronted Schmidt, he became combative, and a physical altercation occurred, the report said. Schmidt was struck on the side of his face but was not injured, the report said. Schmidt was placed into handcuffs and detained, the report said. Officers attempted to search Schmidt before placing him into a cruiser, but the officer noted that Schmidt had defecated in his pants, the report said.
Schmidt refused a breath test at the police department, and due to his “high level of intoxication and the fact that he had defecated himself, was not asked to perform field sobriety tests,” the report said. Schmidt was taken to the hospital for treatment, the report said. The officer who was struck by Schmidt’s truck reported pain in his back, neck, left shoulder and left knee as a result, the report said.
In court Tuesday, the bail commissioner said Schmidt has a long conviction history including 10 convictions in Connecticut along with a conviction in Florida. Schmidt has been convicted of first-degree robbery, larceny, escape and violation of probation among other charges, according to statements in court. Judge Philip Scarpellino said what worried him about the incident was that “it was for nothing,” and Scarpellino said he didn’t trust Schmidt. The state’s attorney said this was a very serious case and a lot of people were nearby, including children in nearby cars.
Scarpellino set bond for $150,000 and continued the case until Nov. 12. A public defender was appointed to represent Schmidt for the bond hearing only.
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