It began with a fatal drug shootout in 1999 on a New Haven street corner. The murder investigation spawned multiple arrests and dismissals of charges and a long-running civil rights lawsuit accusing police of misconduct and violation of a man's constitutional rights.
This 12-year-long cops-and-courtroom saga took a dramatic new twist just last month. Key evidence, which police had claimed they'd destroyed years earlier, was suddenly found on the eve of the federal civil rights trial.
Included in that rediscovered evidence, according to an attorney handling the lawsuit, are documents "implicating other New Haven police officers in illegal drug activity," and audiotapes.
U.S. District Court Judge Tucker L. Melancon has given lawyers for Edwin Rodriguez, the former New Haven cop targeted in the civil rights action, until the end of this month to make sure there's no other evidence out there.
The civil rights suit was filed by Gary Session, the man police arrested in January 2001 on murder conspiracy charges. Session spent 11 months in jail before those charges were dismissed. He's now spent more than a decade seeking to punish the cops he claims violated his constitutional rights.
He's going to have to wait a little longer. His trial was supposed to start on Oct. 11, but it's now been postponed until next year because of the furor over those recently found audio tapes and documents.
"I have evidence that the defendant (Rodriguez) framed my client for a charge of murder which was dismissed," says John Pinheiro, Session's attorney.
The still unsolved murder that set this chain of events in motion happened during the early morning hours of July 25, 1999, near the corner of New Haven's Columbus and Howard avenues.
Anthony Lucky Jr. and Juan Scruggs were riding in a car driven by Lucky's cousin, Albert McCann. Somebody in a light blue Honda started shooting at them. Scruggs was in the back seat and returned fire.
Lucky, age 16, was hit by a bullet and killed. The slug was never found.
That mystery bullet is a matter of dispute. According to the original medical examiner's report, the bullet passed through the vehicle's tailgate and spare tire before striking Lucky.
One of the witnesses Session's attorney plans to call is Malka B. Shah, an associate Connecticut medical examiner. She would testify that, in her opinion, according to a witness list submitted to the federal court, the fatal round was fired from 10-12 inches away "without hitting any other object."
That would seem to indicate Lucky had been mistakenly killed by someone in the vehicle with him.
Two individuals from that blue Honda were arrested, but those charges were dismissed. More than two years later, Rodriguez and another (now former) New Haven police officer named Stephen Coppola arrested Session.
Rodriguez and Coppola have denied any wrongdoing. Both have since retired from the New Haven Police Department. Coppola and the City of New Haven have been dropped as defendants in Session's case.
The lead attorney for Rodriguez failed to respond to a request for comment on this story.
Session was no angel. His rap sheet included charges of having illegal body armor, illegal use of a fake gun, narcotics possession, threatening, and a three-year prison term for attempted assault.
But he insisted then and now that he had nothing to do with that deadly gun battle at Congress and Howard.
Session told the cops he "had never met Lucky, never knew Lucky, and never knew anyone who knew Lucky." He produced three witnesses giving him an alibi, but the charge was that he'd supplied the pistol used in the killing.
The conspiracy charge was based on police interviews in 1999 with Mayra Mercado, a woman Pinheiro says was a registered police informant and a heavy drug user at the time of the interviews.