Teen’s Family Settles Suit Against Koistinens, Tavern Owner

The Hartford Courant

The family of 15-year-old Henry Dang, who was killed last fall when off-duty police Officer Michael Koistinen allegedly struck him with his car, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Koistinen, his parents, and the bar where police say he was drinking shortly before the crash.

Court records indicate an agreement was reached out of court and the lawsuit was withdrawn on Sept. 14. Terms of that agreement are not available.

The family’s attorney, James Bartolini, cannot be reached for comment. Koistinen’s attorney Frank Usseglio also cannot be reached for comment.

The accident happened nearly a year ago on Oct. 29 in Windsor Locks. Koistinen was traveling on Spring Street when his car struck Dang, who was riding his bicycle home just before midnight.

A warrant for Koistinen’s arrest indicates that he spent hours drinking that day, which ended with a couple of shots of tequila at the Suffield Tavern.

Koistinen was charged with second-degree manslaughter and was fired by the police commission. His father, Windsor Locks Sgt. Robert Koistinen, was also arrested on charges of hindering prosecution.

He was the on-duty police sergeant the night of the crash.

The lawsuit was filed against the entire family because the Mazda that Michael Koistinen was driving that night was owned by his parents, Bartolini has said.

The lawsuit alleged that Michael Koistinen caused the death by driving at an unreasonable rate of speed, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist, and failing to keep a proper lane.

State police estimate that Michael Koistinen was traveling at more than 70 mph in a 35-mph zone when the crash occurred.

The lawsuit alleged that the bar owners sold “a visibly intoxicated” Michael Koistinen liquor and then failed to prevent him from getting in his car and driving away.

State police have obtained video from security cameras showing Michael Koistinen drinking two shots and at least one mixed drink in about a half-hour.

Dang’s family had also filed notice that it intended to sue the town, claiming that the department’s negligence would make it difficult for Henry Dang’s estate to prove the civil case against Michael Koistinen.

The notices against the town claimed that Police Chief John Suchocki, Robert Koistinen, and two other officers “failed to properly and adequately conduct a field sobriety test” upon Michael Koistinen and also “failed to seek a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test” to determine if he had been drinking before the crash.

Online court records do not show that that lawsuit has yet been filed.

Courant Staff Writer Christine Dempsey contributed to this story.

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