By DAVE ALTIMARI and DAVID OWENS, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
11:10 AM EST, November 23, 2010
A Windsor Locks police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to manslaughter charges resulting from a crash that killed 15-year-old Henry Dang.
An arrest warrant application released after Officer Michael Koistinen's arrest indicates that witnesses told investigators the off-duty officer had been drinking beer, tequila and whiskey for six hours before the crash and that evidence suggests he was traveling at more than 70 mph, or twice the speed limit.
Koistinen's appearance lasted less than a minute in Judge David P. Gold's courtroom. His attorney, Elliot Spector, entered a not guilty plea. His next court date was set for Jan. 7.
Outside court, Spector said he was gratified after reading the warrant.
"There were no people who were actually with him, face to face, who spoke to him … who observed any signs of intoxication," Spector said.
Spector has focused attention on the location, blaming poor visibility as a key factor and dismissing the importance of whether Koistinen had been drinking alcohol that night.
Koistinen left court with his father, Windsor Locks Police Sgt. Robert Koistinen, without speaking.
When the first Windsor Locks officer arrived at the scene, Koistinen told him it "was dark out and hard to see" but didn't elaborate on what happened, the arrest warrant application states.
Spector, will likely continue to focus his defense strategy on the conditions at the intersection.
Spector has said the accident was "unavoidable" and that whether Koistinen was intoxicated or not was irrelevant.
"A person abiding by all the rules of the road and having never had a drink in their lives would not have been able to avoid an accident with the bicycle if he rode through the red light, at night, at that intersection with little visibility," Spector said.
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