Pubdate: Fri, 15 Oct 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Michelle Tuccitto


NORTH BRANFORD -- After three months of gathering evidence, state police are
ready to re-enact the fateful July night that left a West Haven woman dead
from a police officer's bullet.

State police Lt. Ralph Carpenter said the Major Crime Squad has sent a
packet of evidence and information to Henry Lee, commissioner of the
Department of Public Safety, for his review.

"He always does that prior to a re-enactment," said Carpenter. "We'll
reconstruct the sequence of events as best as possible, based on the
evidence, interviews and photographs that we have."

Police Officer Michael Breen fatally shot Victoria Cooper, 41, of 182
Richard St., when she allegedly drove a car at him in a life-threatening
manner during a traffic stop on Route 80 on July 13.

Police plan to re-enact the entire incident with Breen at the same time as
the fatal shooting -- about 1:30 a.m. No date has been set for the
reenactment, according to Carpenter, but police expect to do it later this

Lee is reviewing a packet of evidence that includes photographs, reports,
forensic evidence, diagrams and statements from Cooper's boyfriend, Steven
Guerette, Breen and people who live in the area.

"I'm not aware of any witnesses to the actual incident," said Carpenter.

Several area residents reported hearing gunshots that night.

Cooper was a passenger in a Camaro that Breen stopped after he determined
the owner's license was suspended.

The driver, Guerette, 41, of Wallingford, got out of the car.

After a search, Breen found traces of cocaine on him, police said.

Guerette has said that he and Cooper used cocaine the night of the shooting.
According to court documents, Guerette told police that he and Cooper
purchased the drug that night.

Autopsy toxicology tests showed the drug in Cooper's body at the time of her
death. Police found nine ziplock bags with a white powder in Cooper's sock,
court documents said.

After Breen searched Guerette, he fled on foot. Breen pursued him but lost
him. As Breen was making his way back to his cruiser, Cooper took the wheel
of the Camaro and started to drive at the officer, police said.

Breen told investigators that he saw Cooper driving toward him, so he fired
two shots. While the first glanced off the car's hood, the second shattered
the driver's side window and struck Cooper from the side in the chest,
killing her.

State police investigators had to painstakingly rebuild the shattered
driver's side window of the Camaro. By putting the window back together,
investigators hope to determine the trajectory of the bullet.

Guerette is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in New Haven today on
criminal charges stemming from the incident.

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