NEWINGTON—When Mary Fletcher confronted Bruce Carrier yet again about his excessive drinking last year, her volatile live-in boyfriend responded the way he usually did when they argued: He hit her.
But this time he choked her until she was unconscious. And when she regained consciousness, he dragged her by the hair to a bedroom and tried to force her to put on a pair of handcuffs. When she refused, he hit her again. He placed one of her hands in the handcuffs, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to the basement, where he handcuffed her to a column.
Carrier left Fletcher there, handcuffed and suffering from a concussion, the rest of the night.
According to a 500-page state police report, that was one of a series of frightening incidents between the couple that finally prompted Fletcher, who never reported the incidents to local police, to take steps in late December 2004 to get Carrier removed from her Mountain View Drive home.
But it wasn't soon enough. Eight days after she had begun gathering the paperwork to apply for a restraining order against Carrier, he killed Newington Master Police Officer Peter Lavery after firing off a burst from an automatic weapon.
The report, released this week, is a detailed account of the investigation into the shooting and string of events on Dec. 30 and 31, 2004, that began with a domestic complaint when Fletcher's worried daughter, Ryan, called police, and ended with Lavery's killing and Carrier's apparent suicide.
Based on testimony from neighbors, and friends, the report also paints a grim picture of an abusive relationship between a controlling Carrier and a dependent and increasingly terrified Mary Fletcher.
At least six of Fletcher's neighbors who were interviewed as part of the report told police they regularly heard the two arguing. Several said they were afraid of Carrier, 45, calling him "scary,'' "an alcoholic'' and "unstable,'' and fearful of the rifles he had in the backyard.
At least one neighbor said Fletcher, 46, had privately shared her growing fear of Carrier, who was characterized as a "control freak'' and "an extremist.''
In one interview with police, Fletcher said that she had been trying to get him to move out but that he had threatened to mess up the house or burn in it down if she dared try. In the weeks before Lavery's death, Fletcher had asked her daughter to call daily "to make sure [Fletcher] was alive.''
The couple met in the mid-1990s and began dating in 1998 or 1999. Initially, the relationship seemed like a good one and the two moved in together in New Britain. However, Carrier's weapons and assault arrest in 1999 and subsequent employment problems triggered a deepening depression and increased drinking.
Carrier was arrested in 1999 after he sprayed Mace in the face of Ryan Fletcher - a teenager at the time - and Mary Fletcher after Mary hid one of his handguns because she didn't want them in her apartment.
When police responded to that domestic complaint, they found numerous rifles, handguns, a Tec-9 semiautomatic assault weapon with a silencer, boxes containing hundreds of bullets, explosive fireworks and 56 ammunition-feeding magazines. As a result of his conviction on weapons, assault and reckless endangerment charges, Carrier was forced to resign from his state Department of Correction job.
The couple split up because "it wasn't working out'' Fletcher told investigators, but soon reunited. Carrier moved in a month after Fletcher moved to Newington in 2000. She told police that at the time, "the relationship was great, as long as Carrier wasn't drinking.''
Carrier, who was now working a variety of carpentry, construction and other odd jobs, was arrested again on charges of motor vehicle and probation violations that resulted in jail stints in 2002 and 2003.
Fletcher told authorities that the two would have arguments that would become physical. In 2003, Fletcher tried charging Carrier $600 for rent in hopes the high payment would prompt him to move out. He paid the money and told Fletcher he would never leave.
Fletcher and family members told police that Carrier made Fletcher totally dependent on him. Carrier "created an environment in which Fletcher needed to ask him for assistance in performing the most menial of tasks,'' the report said.
As an example, Carrier would lock up all of his tool chests in the basement, so if she needed a screwdriver, she was forced to ask him for one, allowing him to dictate the situation and determine if he would help her or not.
Friends said Fletcher would sometimes exacerbate arguments. In one case, she teased Carrier about losing his driver's license after he was arrested in 2004 on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Carrier's cousin, Alan, said Fletcher told him she was afraid of Carrier. Yet another acquaintance characterized Fletcher as a "narcissistic-type person'' who would agitate Carrier.
Several of those providing statements to police said Fletcher was constantly worried that Carrier might bring guns into the house. She repeatedly told him and their friends that he could not live with her if there were any guns. When he hunted, she insisted he not bring the guns he used back to her home. However, several friends and acquaintances said Carrier had talked about or shown them guns he said he owned.
According to the report, Fletcher said she regularly checked the house for weapons, but was never able to get into Carrier's locked tool chests, where police eventually found additional guns and gun parts during the investigation into Lavery's death.
After a layoff from a Rocky Hill construction company in the summer of 2004, Carrier became more despondent and depressed and his drinking became even heavier, according to testimony.
Fletcher told police Carrier was drinking six to 12 beers a day on weekdays and 30 cans of beer on the weekends. She said he did nothing to find a job or to get help with his depression. The two had stopped talking in September 2004, Fletcher said.
The report reaffirms that it was Ryan Fletcher who, unknown to Mary Fletcher, called police about 10:20 p.m. Dec. 30 because she was worried that Carrier had again beaten up her mother. He had.
According to the report, as Fletcher was drinking a beer and cleaning the bedroom, she and Carrier began fighting over who had broken the leg on a bedroom table. Fletcher said she knew Carrier had been drinking but did not know how much. During the fight he hit her, cutting her face.
"Let's clean you up,'' Carrier said to Fletcher as he led her to the kitchen by the hand, according to Fletcher's account.
Fletcher told police that Carrier said he hit her in retaliation; he claimed she had hit him first. Too embarrassed to go to a neighbor's door to ask for help, Fletcher waited for Carrier to go to the basement, and then called her daughter to come and get her.
As Fletcher waited in the driveway for her daughter, Lavery arrived. It was not the officer's first time to Fletcher's house, according to the report. The previous month, Lavery was the officer who responded after Fletcher called police to complain about a bill left at her house from a power-washing service for work she had not ordered. The company had mistakenly washed her home, instead of nearby 57 Crestview Drive.
As Lavery was talking with Fletcher outside the house on Dec. 30, his backup, Officer Laurence DeSimone, arrived. Fletcher told police about the fight, and shook her head "no'' when asked if there were any weapons in the house, according to testimony from DeSimone.
After searching the first floor for Carrier, Lavery, 47, headed down the basement stairs. Carrier was waiting with an automatic rifle. As Lavery neared the bottom of the staircase, Carrier opened fire. Lavery was hit by an unknown number of bullets in the abdomen, chest, groin, legs and shoulders. DeSimone, who was at the top of the stairs, radioed for help. He and Fletcher, who was on the main floor, fled the house just four minutes after Lavery had arrived. A lengthy police standoff ensued as police tried to get to Lavery and police and family members tried to talk Carrier into surrendering.
After Carrier was struck in the shoulder by a police sniper's bullet at about 8 a.m. Dec. 31, 2004, the report states, it is believed that he committed suicide with a single bullet to the head.