A Meriden man is in custody following a massive street fight that erupted when closed in the early hours of New Year’s and 250 intoxicated patrons flowed onto Main Street in Middletown, Middletown police said.
The city’s entire midnight shift, state police troopers and three surrounding towns’ forces responded to the angry mob when, as Sgt. Christopher Lundberg in his report described, “the scene on Main Street descended into chaos.”
On Jan. 1, at 2:40 a.m., police arrived at 412 Main St. and were told by a witness that a man, later identified as Johnathan Smith, 19, of Reynolds Drive, Meriden, ran out of the club moments earlier with blood covering his face. Officers heard a glass bottle break and saw two black males fighting in the middle of Main Street and a third man hiding a bottle behind his back.
An unidentified black male pushed past police, the report says, and tried to keep fighting, but an officer struck him several times with his baton, police said.
Police saw the unidentified man get punched in the face by Smith then run away. Smith refused to get on the ground, police say, so officers hit him in the leg with a baton, used pepper spray on his face, then handcuffed him.
All the while, the report said, people were fighting along the street so police dispersed the crowd with rounds from a pepper ball gun. Angry members of the crowd threw bottles and drinks at police, who heard them yell, “[expletive] the police. You’re not tough, it’s New Year’s, stop harassing us.”
City police called for help from surrounding towns and officers responded from the Connecticut State Police, Portland, Cromwell and Rocky Hill police departments, the report said.
An elderly couple was taken from the crowd and brought to safety, according to police.
Officers found a pair of brass knuckles on the ground where Smith had been handcuffed. At headquarters, the report said, Smith was crying, and asking them to let him go on a promise to appear because he hadn’t been arrested before. Police say he was respectful and cooperative.
Smith gave them a false name, address and date of birth, police said. While police were waiting for a friend to bring Smith’s identification to headquarters, he said, “I admit, I punched that guy in the face but that is because he was trying to dance with my girl in the club … I’m a man, at least I owned up to it,” the report said.
He then signed all the forms with a fake name, police said, and officers took him to the lobby.
Officers received a call from state police saying Smith’s fingerprints came back as being those of a Meriden man with an outstanding warrant, which Smith denied. Police brought him back toward the elevator to a jail cell and Smith bolted out the front door, the report said. Officers chased him on foot down Main Street to Court Street as he scaled a fence at the rear of Mezzo Grille.
A canine was called in and located Smith in the alleyway between Capitol Liquor “wedged between a wooden fence and a concrete wall” behind the padlocked gate of the MAT bus terminal off Main Street.
The report said officers used bolt cutters to cut the gate and had to break the wooden fence to free Smith from the narrow space.
He was charged with interfering with an officer, breach of peace, escape from custody, criminal impersonation and second-degree forgery. He was held on a $75,000 cash or non-surety bond with a Jan. 19 court date in Middletown.
“Smith seemed to think the whole ordeal was a joke as he laughed his way through the process,” the report stated.
He told officers his address was on Wayflower Street in New Haven, but later said it was his aunt’s home and he doesn’t have a “real address.”