CT State Trooper killed by hit-and-run driver who was high on drugs, previously convicted of third degree murder

SOUTHINGTON, CT - The Connecticut State Police (CSP) and police officers throughout Connecticut and New England are mourning after Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier was killed in the line of duty as he conducted targeted traffic enforcement on Interstate 84 in Southington, CT Insider reports. 

Pelletier, 34, was on the eastbound side of the interstate working as part of a High Visibility Motor Vehicle Enforcement grant which is ironically designed to reduce deadly motor vehicle crashes. Trooper Pelletier, a nine-year veteran of the CSP, and assigned to Troop H in Hartford, saw an operator who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. After pulling the vehicle over, Pelletier was outside of the vehicle speaking to the operator when a red pickup truck sideswiped his patrol vehicle and struck him, fatally injuring him. The vehicle fled the scene.

Pelletier, a K9 officer, had his K9 partner in the vehicle with him, however, the dog was not injured. Trooper Pelletier succumbed to his injuries at the scene. 

On Friday, CSP announced they had arrested a suspect in the death of their colleague. Alex Oyola-Sanchez, 44, of Zion Street in Hartford was charged with second-degree manslaughter as well as a number of other charges, including operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and evading responsibility.

Oyola-Sanchez also admitted to troopers that he had done drugs earlier in the day, reportedly $20 worth of fentanyl, which he got from a drug dealer, and $20 worth of powder cocaine. Court documents show that another driver sped up to Oyola-Sanchez to yell to him that he hit a state trooper, to which Oyola-Sanchez replied, "I know," and kept driving.

Oyola-Sanchez’s immigration status is unknown, though it is believed he is a US citizen from Puerto Rico. His bond was set for $1.5 million and he's scheduled to appear in court on June 6.

It's been revealed that Oyola-Sanchez has also been previously convicted of third-degree murder and attempted homicide.

On Friday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont directed all US and State of Connecticut flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen trooper. 

“This is devastating news and a tragic reminder about the dangers law enforcement face every day when they leave their homes and go to work,” Lamont said. 

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-CT) spoke at a news conference Thursday night. 

“What is so tragic about this day, and losing him, is that his life was lost while he was conducting a routine traffic stop, to try to stop speeding, to try to make our roads safer, to try to keep the public safe by making sure anyone who is driving is wearing their seatbelt,” she said. 

For Bysiewicz, the death of Trooper Pelletier particularly hit home, since she and her driver went through a checkpoint in Wallingford, CT just a couple weeks ago. It was Pelletier who flagged them down and had them lower their car windows to ensure they were wearing their seatbelts. 

“He actually stopped me and my state trooper, Belcher, because he couldn’t see in our smoked windows and he wanted to know if we were wearing our seat belts,” Bysewicz said. 

She said Pelletier recognized her driver, “smiled and waved us on.” She said other troopers on the detail “laughed because they knew he was very dedicated and that he’d stop the lieutenant governor just to make sure she was wearing her seatbelt.” 

As Trooper Pelletier’s body left the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Farmington, CT, hundreds of first responders lined streets and highway overpasses as a procession led by police motorcycles and cruisers escorted the hearse to a funeral home in Southington–which is ironically where Pelletier grew up. 

NBC CT reported that Pelletier worked as a correction officer assigned to the Hartford Correctional Center until he left to become a State Police Trooper Trainee on June 12, 2015. 

"The tragic loss of Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier hits especially close to home as he was one of our agency’s correction officers prior to joining the ranks of the State Police,” Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros said in a statement. 

“Trooper Pelletier’s death serves as a reminder of the selfless sacrifice made each day by every member of the law enforcement community," Quiros added. 

Pelletier was a 2007 graduate of Southington High School and a 2011 graduate from Central Connecticut State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and a minor in Business. The university community is mourning his death. 

“We send our deepest condolences to the Pelletier family and the Connecticut State Police force. Graduates like TFC Pelletier go out into the world and excel in their field of study. By all accounts his dedication to public service and community safety was unmatched,” Central Connecticut State President Zulma R. Toro said in a statement. 

The university said faculty in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department are heartbroken, with many praising Pelletier as an outstanding student. They said the CCSU Blue Devil family will join the rest of the state in flying flags at half-staff in honor of their fallen alumnus. 

Tributes poured in from across Connecticut for the fallen trooper:

"He was an excellent Trooper and a tremendous person. We offier our sincerest condolences to the family and friends who are directly affected by the tragic loss. Rest easy Trooper, we got the watch from here"- CSP Troop B

"Trooper Pelletier's dedication, bravery, and unwavering commitment to protecting and serving the public exemplify the highest standards of our profession. His sacrifice will not be forgotten, and his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us." - MIddletown (CT) Police Department

Fox 61 reported that CSP has authorized a GoFundMe page to support Trooper Pelletier’s young family. It can be accessed here.

CSP officials noted that many times, unsavory actors try to capitalize on such tragedies, and noted the above is the only state police-authorized fundraising source for the family. CSP said the page was created by Pelletier’s colleagues at Troop H and has been approved by the trooper’s family. 

Trooper Pelletier is survived by his wife, Dominique, and two young sons, Troy and Zachary, state police said. 

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