Arrest warrant: Gun ‘clearly visible’ in Hulda Lane video

Video footage recorded by a surveillance system outside of the home of Mauro Tropeano shows the Hulda Lane homeowner with a gun in his waistband after chasing away a group of teenagers who were attempting to steal his car on the morning of June 5.

Tropeano, 33, who was arrested Aug. 21 for assault in the second degree, illegal discharge of a firearm and the sale of illegal drugs, denied firing his weapon in his initial report to police despite the fact several neighbors called 911 after hearing shots.

According to an arrest warrant application from the Ridgefield Police Department, the surveillance footage does not show Tropeano fire his weapon but it does describe the teenagers as “empty handed.”

“Mauro Tropeano walks up the stairs and enters the residence. The pistol is clearly visible in his waistband as he continues to use the cell phone,” court documents state, describing the actions taking place on the video surveillance between 3:05 a.m. and 3:06 a.m.. “[He] walks back outside while using the cell phone. The pistol is no longer in his waistband.”

The court document also states that a 15-year-old Waterbury girl, who was treated for a gunshot wound in the back at Waterbury Hospital on June 5, told police she was in Ridgefield that morning and Tropeano fired his gun three times at the teenage thieves as they ran down his driveway.

She was arrested last week along with another 16-year-old girl from Waterbury. Both were charged with conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree.

Removing items

The retrieved video footage shows Tropeano remove several items from the vehicle as “he observes the approaching police lights.”

A search and seizure of his home uncovered several spent shell casings and three weapons. Detectives also found seven pounds of medical-grade marijuana, hundreds of steroids in pill and injectable forms and more than $26,000 in cash that was stored in a plastic bucket.  

“Tropeano enters the rear driver’s side door and removed what appears to be a plastic-type bag and rushes to go back inside the residence,” the court document states. “He appears to be looking over his shoulder.”

“[He] goes back inside the residence holding the plastic-type bag. [He] comes back outside without the plastic bag.”

The homeowner is described as “in a hurry and nervous” in the footage. In addition to moving objects from the car into his home, the video shows him removing something from the passenger compartment of the vehicle and bringing the item into his garage.

“Tropeano enters the side door of the garage with the item. [He] exits the garage empty-handed and walks out to the driveway to meet the officer.”

His attorney Gene Riccio spoke to the Press Tuesday, Aug. 29, and said that the footage shows Tropeano after he went through a “terrifying situation.”

“What’s important to focus on is that my client was terrorized by a gang of thieves in the middle of the night,” Riccio said.

Tropeano posted $100,000 bond last week. He is expected to be arraigned in court Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Switching statements

The video evidence is only part of the prosecution’s case against Tropeano.

Police said that Tropeano denied firing his gun when he came into police headquarters later on June 5.

When asked to perform a residue test on his hands, Tropeano told the investigators he was late for a meeting and left without being tested.

It took weeks until he submitted a statement to police, through Riccio, that he admitted to firing the weapon.

“In defense of my person, I discharged my Glock 9mm pistol,” the court documents state, quoting Tropeano’s June 30 statement.

According to a report from the state’s Office of Legislative Research, a homeowner is allowed to use “reasonable physical force” to prevent someone from criminally trespassing.

The report states that deadly force is reasonable when necessary under three circumstances: to defend oneself, to prevent a trespasser from committing a violent crime, or to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry.

A person must retreat, if at all possible, before using deadly force, according to state law.

The drugs

Court documents said that the quantity of marijuana Tropeano possessed “is not consistent with personal use and is more likely to be for sale.”

“The suspected bags of marijuana each had a label on them marked ‘Medical Cannabis Strain BD,” the documents stated.

Similarly, detectives met with a local pharmacists about the steroids that were seized.

The pharmacist testified that the list of items were “all commonly associated with steroid usage, and would all require a prescription.”

“[She] agreed that given the quantity of the items … it would suggest that the items were not for personal use but for sale and/or distribution,” the documents said.