The Board of Selectmen, at its March 4 meeting, will consider a recommendation by the town’s insurance counsel regarding a lawsuit affecting Wilton and four other towns.
The towns of Easton, Monroe and Trumbull have agreed to a “reasonable settlement” reached in the lawsuit brought by the estate of Gonzalo Guizan, according to Thomas A. Herrmann, Easton first selectman. Mr. Herrmann prepared a press release for the three towns. Wilton and Darien are also involved. Wilton has not yet agreed to the settlement.
Mr. Guizan was shot during a Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team operation conducted in Easton on May 18, 2008, pursuant to a valid search warrant, Mr. Herrmann said. Wilton police officers were part of the team.
“While the defendants, police departments and officers from Darien, Easton, Trumbull, Monroe, and Wilton maintain they were not responsible for the unfortunate death of Mr. Guizan, the insurers for the defendants, who will bear the full cost of the settlement, believed that it was best to resolve the matter rather than incur further attorneys’ fees, which were anticipated to be significant,” Mr. Herrmann said.
The settlement was fully insured, Mr. Herrmann said, and will not have a direct cost to the towns. Specific terms of the settlement are still being resolved among the parties, he added.
Wilton counsel Ken Bernhard said he had been advised of a proposed settlement but town officials have not yet seen it. The town’s insurance counsel recommended the town agree to the settlement, but no decision has been made. Mr. Bernhard said the Board of Selectmen will discuss it at its March 4 meeting.
Mr. Herrmann said the defendants and their insurers will continue to litigate a case brought by Ronald Terebesi, whose home was the object of the search warrant, and who claims he sustained physical and emotional damages.
The May 18 police raid was triggered by a tip from an exotic dancer who reported seeing drug activity there, court documents disclosed. Police first surrounded and then burst into the Dogwood Drive home, with many officers dressed in full black uniforms with Kevlar vests and helmets, and deploying flashbang grenades used to disorient and distract the occupants.
Upon entry, police were met by the homeowner, Mr. Terebesi, 42, and Mr. Guizan, 33, of Norwalk, who allegedly charged, “physically encountering two police officers,” according to the report from the state police.
At least one of the two officers fired his gun, fatally wounding Mr. Guizan, according to the report. The office of the chief state medical examiner determined that Mr. Guizan died of multiple gunshot wounds and listed the death as a homicide.
During the subsequent search of the house, no weapons were discovered, according to John Solomon, who was Easton police chief at the time.
Mr. Guizan, Mr. Terebesi and two officers involved in the confrontation were taken by EMS to area hospitals. Mr. Guizan was pronounced dead upon arrival. The three others were all treated for non-life threatening injuries and released.
The Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team, also known as SWERT, is a specialized team comprised of officers from the Trumbull, Westport, Wilton, Monroe, and Easton police departments. With training beyond the norm for most police officers, team members are trained to handle hostage situations, civil disturbances, high-risk warrants, and other incidents that could result in someone being seriously injured.