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Cops: Car Crash Leads to Drinking Party & an Arrest

A 23-year-old Mansfield Avenue man objected to police entering his home and eventually struggled with cops as he was arrested, according to police.

Ovidio Bennet-Lagos, 23, of Mansfield Avenue charged with providing alcohol to minors, assault on a police officer and interfering with arrest (Darien Police Department arrest photo
Ovidio Bennet-Lagos, 23, of Mansfield Avenue charged with providing alcohol to minors, assault on a police officer and interfering with arrest (Darien Police Department arrest photo
A car accident in the wee hours on Easter Sunday turned up underage drinkers, leading police to a house where they kicked in a door and arrest a resident, Darien police said.

Here's Darien Police Department's account (an accusation not proven in court) of the incident:

Car accident

At 1:55 a.m., police responded to a report of a car accident near 18 Stony Brook Rd. Arriving, they found a 2011 Hyundai had left the road and was in a ditch. Two occupants of the car were standing by the vehicle, but the driver had fled on foot after the accident.

No one, including the driver (as police later learned), was injured in the accident, although the Hyundai was damaged on its right and left sides and its underside, as well as on the front. A water pipe from a nearby house may have been damaged by the accident.

Police in patrol cars in the area stopped two vehicles in their search for the driver who had left the scene. People in one of the cars told police they were going to Stony Brook Road to help the people in the accident and get the car out of the ditch.

Police had the occupants of that car call the driver. Police spoke with him and suggested that he go back to the scene, which avoided an added effort to get an arrest warrant for him. The driver came back.

The driver, Michael Dinnan, 20, of Old Long Ridge Road in Stamford, did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol. He told police he was driving west on Stony Brook road when he approached a lefthand turn and lost control of his car.

It veered off the right shoulder and into a ditch. He was not familiar with the area and didn't realize the curve was so sharp, he said.

Dinnan was charged with evading responsibility by leaving the scene of an accident and improperly making a turn.

To Mansfield Avenue

The passengers had both been drinking, and one (a 20-year-old Stamford man) was underage, so police asked where they had been imbibing. At 293 Mansfield Ave., they told police. Four officers went to the house. (Its driveway is across the street from the entrance to the Country Club of Darien.)

About four police officers arrived at the scene. Police spoke with Ovidio Bennet-Lagos, 23, a resident of the house and host of a party.

Bennet-Lagos told police he wanted them to leave. Police replied that they had a credible report of a party at the house in which people were drinking alcohol who were under the legal age limit. They told him they intended to enter the house.

Bennet-Lagos told police they needed a warrant to go in and without one, he wasn't allowing them in. Police told him that they didn't need a warrant because they needed to go inside in order to check on the well-being of possible underage people at the party.

The front door was locked and Bennet-Lagos refused to unlock it. Police warned him that they would forcibly enter the house if they weren't allowed in.

One officer went to a window and looked inside the house, in which (for a reason either not explained by Bennet-Lagos or not in the report) the electricity had been turned off.

The officer found people at the windows back away once he started looking in. One person seated on the staircase by the door remained there, and the officer told him to open the door. He refused and later walked away.

Police kicked in the door and entered the house.

There were "numerous" people inside, although police didn't give an estimate of the number in a police report.

Bennet-Lagos went toward the door and refused to halt when police told him to do so. An officer tried to restrain him, and Bennet-Lagos began fighting. Two officers restrained him and brought him to the ground. He was handcuffed.

During the struggle, both police officers received scratches (a common occurrence when someone struggles as police arrest him). Bennet-Lagos was later found to have cuts on his wrists. He refused medical attention.

During the incident at the house, various people at the party took video recordings of police and told them they needed a warrant to enter it.

Police found five adults, all under the age of 21, who had been drinking at the party (not including the two people found near the crashed car on Stony Brook Road):

  • An 18-year-old Stamford woman (who was found hiding in the garage when the lights were turned back on);
  • A 19-year-old Stamford man;
  • A 20-year-old Bridgeport man;
  • A 20-year-old Stamford woman;
  • A 20-year-old Weston woman.

None of them were charged with any violation of the law. Police allowed them and other guests to make arrangements for them to leave without the five under-age drinkers driving.

Report of a fight

While police were at the house, a man drove up to the house, and police questioned him. He said he had just dropped off a friend at Stamford Hospital who had been in a fight at the house. The fighting man's hand had gone through a window, police were told.

Police interviewed the man at the hospital. He said he had tried to break up a fight between two other people and his hand accidentally went through a window as he was doing that. He didn't want to pursue the matter and police decided they did not have enough information to make any further arrests.


Bennet-Lagos at the police station

Bennet-Lagos was charged with providing alcohol to minors, assault on a police officer and interfering with arrest. At Police Department headquarters he would not allow police to to take his fingerprints, so he was charged with refusing to be fingerprinted.

He said he wanted to call a lawyer, but when he was given time to do that, he refused to do so.

Later, Bennet-Lagos agreed to be fingerprinted, and police dropped that charge. He was initially held on $25,000 bond, but a bail commissioner visiting the police station reviewed his case and dropped the bail, replacing it with a promise to appear in court.
Diane Wilkinson Trefethen April 24, 2014 at 07:06 PM
Owsley said, "I think in the interest of thoroughness the cops were obligated to check it out... how were they to know the age profile of the attendees." Precisely. They had no clue. That's why I asked if there was an attorney reading this piece. Yes the police "caught" one 20 yr old who said s/he'd been drinking at that house but is that sufficient to constitute probable cause to go on a warrantless search of the house? It could have been that the 20 yr old passenger was the only under-aged at the party and was asked to leave because s/he wasn't 21. It could have been that the police were refused entry because inside were all adults indulging in a naked sex party. That would explain no lights and a strong reluctance on the part of the host to admit the police. The point is, did the police have sufficient evidence that there were under-aged drinkers at the party? If yes, they they were legally bound to conduct a safety search. If no, then if they wanted to search the house, they'd need to get a warrant. I don't believe that simply thinking there might be under-aged drinkers on the premises is sufficient to constitute probable cause. Is there a lawyer here who can comment?
Owsley April 25, 2014 at 12:44 AM
@diane - my apologies! I did indeed make an innacuarate reference to your post. Sloppy on my part. I think your " 'us' vs 'them'" assertion is intriguing. I believe that in order to maintain their authority they had to go in the house one way or the other. They weren't going to slink back to their cars and drive away.
Glasshouse April 27, 2014 at 05:56 PM
So owsley are you saying that since the cops went to this citizen's house but were denied access they were obligated to bash the door down rather than slink away? Why? To save face? I think its outrageousness that a person's house is invaded after a sober designated driver had a minor accident with two 20 year olds in the car.
Owsley April 28, 2014 at 02:08 PM
@Glasshouse, yes, thats what Im saying. That's what happened this time, thats what will happen every time. Same as if the cops want to pull you over, you're getting pulled over. Your outrage is irrelevant, this is reality.

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