Robert Koistinen Acquitted in Case Related to Henry Dang's Death

A six-person jury took less than two hours to reach its decision Wednesday afternoon in Hartford Superior Court. UPDATED


After deliberating less than two hours Wednesday, jurors found former Windsor Locks Police Sgt. Robert Koistinen of interfering with the investigation of a fatal October 2010 accident involving his son Michael.

Robert Koistinen hugged members of his family in the hallway after the verdict was announced in Hartford Superior Court. Koistinen did not comment as he left the courthouse.

His attorney Eliot Spector said the family was gratified by the verdict.  He said the reality of the case is really about media pressure. Robert Koistinen was found guilty in the media before he was arrested, Spector said.

“Public officials were influenced by it and made bad decisions,” Spector said.

Because of undue influence, Robert Koistinen was made a “scapegoat” in the case, he added.

“I never really thought we could lose this trial,” Spector said. “I couldn’t understand why he was being prosecuted from the get go.”

Robert Koistinen, 55, was accused of interfering with the investigation of the accident in which his son, Michael, an off-duty Windsor Locks police officer at the time, was convicted of striking 15-year-old Henry Dang with his car as the teen rode his bicycle at the intersection of Spring and West streets on Oct. 29, 2010.

He was found not guilty of third-degree hindering prosecution. The evidence portion of the trial occurred over five days last week.

Michael Koistinen pleaded no contest to second-degree manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence on June 12. He was sentenced on August 27 to five years and four months in prison.

Dang’s brother and sister, and family friends left the courthouse Wednesday without making comment.

Juror Nancy Senatro said outside the courthouse the jury felt there was nothing there to convict Koistinen.

“He was innocent,” Senatro said. “There was not any substantial evidence to convict this man.”

At one point during their deliberations, the jury asked to rehear testimony from a couple who were first to Michael Koistinen’s car that night and Robert Koistinen’s testimony about speaking to them.

During closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor John Fahey said Koistinen wore two hats the night of the accident and made decisions that helped his son Michael. Fahey said a parent would not be able to send possible witnesses through the crime scene. Parents could not take their son away in a car like Robert Koistinen did.

The state attempted to make a case that Koistinen had kept investigators from talking to his son after the accident, and had not passed along information about possible witnesses. 

Koistinen said he recused himself from the case as soon as he knew his son was involved.

Spector argued during his closing statement that the evidence presented during the trial showed the opposite of what the state claimed. The state presented evidence of what Michael Koistinen did, he maintained.

"This is case is not about Michael Koistinen, it is about Robert Koistinen," Spector said.

In January, Robert Koistinen was fired by the Windsor Locks Police Commission. Koistinen has filed a grievance seeking reinstatement to that job, officials said.

Spector said Koistinen will get his job back and his life back in order.

Police Commission Chairman Kevin Brace said Wednesday the commission will consult with its labor attorney Kevin Dineen about what will happen. He said the commission will follow the process and see what happens.

The Dang family sued and reached a settlement with the Koistinen family and the former owners of the Suffield Tavern, where Michael Koistinen was seen drinking.

another guy October 10, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Unbelievable. Thank god i moved out of this town. this police force is full of "thugs" that think they are above the law. The justice system had the opportunity to send a message to asshole cops like this but they always come up with a reason not to. People in WL need to get their lazy butts off the the couch and start standing up for truth and justice.
Maria Giannuzzi October 11, 2012 at 03:42 PM
It breaks my heart that one boy had to pay the price for the failures of a community. The Dang family has my deepest sympathy.
JOHN October 12, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Really REALLY sad that the only people who did the right thing are the kids Mikey drank with that day, who testified to STATE police that mike drank all day. Officer Sherokow the first cop on the scene refused to give an interview to the State police and hired a attorney. WHAT! a cop hired by the people of Windsor Locks refuses to give a statement about a fatality he was assigned to investigate. Am I the only one applauded by this? Holy crap what is the matter with Windsor Locks? Of course Robert got off, none of his cop buddies would testify against him and the cop that was supposed to be in charge of the accident scene Capt. David Bourque was sentenced to 10 years in prison for compiling one of the largest known collections of child pornography in the state. The Windsor Locks Police will never be able to wash Henry's blood off their hands. The citizens of Windsor Locks who put up with these criminals running their town and police department also will never rest. NEVER that's along time! Robert was just as guilty as Mike everyone in Town knows what Bob did. Cops talk to their wife's , wife's talk to everyone. Bob gave him water to wash his mouth out, Bob got air freshener to spay idiot mike with to cover up alcohol smell, Yes air freshener its all he could find at the station, Bob blocked all testing of Mike the killer, Just call him BLOODY BOB when you see him at the dinner, maybe he'll give you a ticket Does OJ live in WINDSOR LOCKS?
Charlene October 12, 2012 at 08:58 AM
It Pisses me off that you have no defense from the windsor locks police dept. That officer knew exactly what he was doing, and I agree with John, I am very saddened by this as we all know he covered up the scene for his son. Were not stupid, This town is just *ucked Up. Why bother having a police dept, they are all corruptted. Charlene
Anthony Ruggiero October 13, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Wow, the ignorance of people is appalling. Bob was convicted by the media and public well before the full evidence was collected. Actually read the evidence that was presented and the full reports, not just the Cliffnotes that the media told you to sensationalize the story. The jurors were the ones that allowed justice to prevail. They impartially looked at the evidence, THE FACTS, and judged Bob for HIS actions, not his SON's actions. Everyone wanted to punish Bob for what Mike did, which is wrong. "John", if you knew of this so called "evidence" about Bob getting Mike water and an air freshener, then shame on you for not notifying the state police. If it wasn't presented or proven, then it's just rumors. Multiple witnesses testified that Mike had no odor of alcohol on his breath or showing any signs of intoxication. This included medical professionals that never met Mike or Bob before that night. Water and an air freshener aren't going to cover up the breath odor or signs/symptoms of alcohol intoxication. Read the radio transcripts and state police/civilian investigation reports. Bob immediately called for the Chief, Captain, and another Sergeant to come to the scene to relieve him of his command & called for the reconstruction team because it involved a cop and a fatality. He told the Chief of the glass & never physically stopped anyone from having access to Mike on scene or at the hospital per the testimony. Two investigations proved no cover up or conspiracy.
JOHN October 14, 2012 at 03:44 AM
No one wanted to punish Bob for what Mike did, we want to punish him for what he did! When you conspire to commit a felony in CT you receive the same penalty as the person who commits it, not my law CT LAW! The facts are Mike WAS DRUNK! He was convicted. He wasn't tested because his father was a SGT. who knew everyone in WL PD. He used his position with the police department to stop his son from being tested for alcohol after he drank all day and ran a child over and removed his from the scene. To make matters worst the heartless scumbag never went to assist Henry as he lie in the road dieing. Then Bloody Bob came by and instead of kicking his kids ass, he conspires to cover up his son's obvious intoxication. The Jurors never got the whole story the police we pay to investigate crimes all turned their back on Henry to protect those who are already dammed. All you corrupt cops and Town officials can't help Bob anymore than I can help Henry. Yea your right Tony, every cop in the WL PD and no one could get a alcohol test from Mike, who just ran a child over at 70 MPH. WOW how F in stupid do you think we are. Bob did not tell the chief about the glass that was found the next day get your facts straight, the home owner who saw MADD Mike stagger out of his car and throw it told the WL PD and they didn't even take a statement from her. Mike told the doctor he was afraid of needles OMFG
JOHN October 14, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Bop did block testing from line 31 of mikes arrest warrant Officer Jerry Dowd went to the hospital and he was met at the door by Bloody Bob who denied him access to the hospital room and said he would not allow any testing of MADD Mike!!! Get your facts straight! Do you think my Dad could tell the cops to go away you can't test my drunk son who just killed someone read the arrest warrant before you speak! If that's not helping someone commit murder what the hell is! Its morons like Tony, Bloody BOB and MADD MIKE that make Windsor Locks a GETTO Tony you can;t wipe blood under the rug it just bleeds through and gets on your feet.
JOHN October 14, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Wrong again Tony if you throw out all the testimony of Mike and Bobs friends and co workers every single witness gave statements to the State Police That Mike was drinking, and the ones on the scene all said he looked drunk and he was staggering. BLOODY BOB denied access to MADD MIKE did you understand it that time ROCK HEAD
Maria Giannuzzi October 14, 2012 at 01:45 PM
The central issue here is did the Windsor Locks Police Department follow protocol at the scene of the accident. Was the initial investigation that night conducted in a fair and professional manner? Would ordinary citizens been treated in the same manner as insiders Michael and Robert Kostinen?
JOHN October 15, 2012 at 10:20 PM
EXACTLY anyone of our kids would have have an alcohol blood test so fast your head would spin! The people in Town who continue to protect these criminals should be run out of Town. All the cops who ATTEMPTED to cover Henry's murder up should all lose their jobs and pensions. The people in the town government and police department that are doing everything they can to save Bloody BOB and MADD Mike are worse than MADD Mike, obviously he was drunk and did not intentionally mean to kill a child when he drank and drove, but the scumbags that continue to insist that Bloody BOB and MADD Mike did nothing should be sent straight to Hell


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