[Note: This article has been updated since charges against the teen have been dropped.]
A 17-year-old boy lay seriously injured and unconscious for nearly 40 minutes in the basement of an Oenoke Ridge Road home, bleeding from his ear, before emergency responders were called, partly because the father of the teen who was hosting the underage drinking party where he’d fallen insisted that nobody phone police about it, officials say.
Though the Knight parents were not at home that Saturday night, they kept the injured boy’s parents in the dark about his injuries for a critical period of time and instructed their own son as well as others in the house not to call 9-1-1, according to an arrest warrant application from New Canaan Police Sgt. Peter Condos of the department’s Investigative Section.
Ultimately, the father of a girl who attended the party phoned 9-1-1 himself after learning from her what was happening, Condos said in his sworn affidavit.
“Douglas Knight became aware of a serious problem at his residence at about 11 p.m. and it can be documented that he first relayed to his son to not call 911 (‘dad says not to call’),” according to the arrest warrant application. “At 11:06 his son called his father’s cell phone and spoke for over 3 minutes and probable cause exists to believe that again his son was told to not call 911 (since 911 was not called and all persons present at the scene were pressing [Douglas Knight’s son] or someone to call for help) … Douglas Knight arrived back at his residence somewhere between 11:10 p.m.-11:15 p.m. and became fully aware of the gravity of the situation in person. Still, for approximately 10 minutes after arriving he argued with [a girl at the party] about why he refused to call 911 and causing [that person] to curse him again and decide to call her father again, who ultimately placed the call for help himself at 11:21 p.m. That an official 911 call for help is recorded being placed by [Douglas Knight’s wife] at 11:24 p.m., nearly a full half hour after the situation became known to the Knights of an unconscious, bleeding from the ear youth.”
Douglas Knight’s 18-year-old son at the start of the night collected $10 from various youths—including fellow members of the New Canaan High School varsity baseball team, for whom the party appears to have been thrown, according to Condos—drove to a liquor store in Norwalk, bought four 30-packs of beer, two handles of hard liquor and a bottle of Fireball whiskey and returned home to distribute it. When authorities finally did arrive, the younger Knight appears to have changed his story about just how the 17-year-old was injured, according to the arrest warrant application. He was charged with providing alcohol to minors, a Class E felony offense, under state law, as well as permitting a minor to possess alcohol.
According to a press bulletin issued by Lt. Jason Ferraro, NCPD’s public information officer, the department received a 9-1-1 call from 1235 Oenoke Ridge Road at about 11:24 p.m. regarding a 17-year-old who had fallen down a flight of stairs. He was transported to Norwalk Hospital, where Emergency Room physicians later relayed that the victim’s injuries were “possibly the result of an assault,” Ferraro said.
“Subsequently, a lengthy criminal investigation began into what caused the injuries to the victim,” he said.
The investigation involved conducting about 30 interviews, executing search-and-seizure warrants and ex-parte court orders, examining telephone records, conducting an electronic forensic examination, consulting with a state’s attorney and applying for two arrest warrants, he said.
According to Condos’s application for Douglas Knight’s arrest warrant, police were dispatched to the residence— a 9,000-square-foot home up toward the state line, near Lukes Wood Road—at about 11:28 p.m. on March 25.
Arriving, police entered the home with a member of the New Canaan Fire Department through a side door of the house, went down a stairwell to the basement and “noticed there was a hole in the sheet rock wall directly at the bottom of the stairs and some small blood stains on the carpet.”
“To the right of that, [the injured youth] was sitting and leaning against the adjacent wall … [he] was not responding to verbal statements.”
EMTs from the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived and took the injured teen to the hospital.
Meanwhile, the teenage host told police that the injured youth had fallen down the stairs, “but when asked how high up the stairs [the teen] fell from, he stated [that the juvenile] actually hit his head when [he] was rounding the corner to go upstairs and fell,” Condos said in the application.
“We asked if there was any alcohol or drugs involved, and [the teenage host] said he did not see everything [the youth] was doing, but that [he] probably was just drinking. Another witness stated she believed [he] was just drinking alcohol, but the only other thing [he] may have done is smoke marijuana.”
Another person at the party “went further by saying the injuries were of such severity that he questioned the accounting of events on how they occurred—that the injuries may not have happened simply by hitting a sheet rock wall (and alluded that the police should look further),” Condos wrote.
Police were unable to establish that an assault had occurred, according to Condos.
“However, information gathered during these interviews necessitated a secondary investigation into the inordinate amount of time between when [the injured youth] was discovered laying at the bottom of a staircase unconscious and when emergency services were notified of the emergency,” Condos said.
One witness said the injured youth had been found at the bottom of the staircase around 10:45 p.m., according to Condos—a timeframe corroborated by a later Uber ride that was recorded.
“When several youths decided that 911 and the police should be called [the teen] said ‘his parents told him not to call.’ No call was thus made,” Condos said.
Another witness told police that he heard [the teen] talking on his cellphone at about 10:45 p.m., overheard him use the word ‘unconscious’ and say “I don’t know what to do,” according to Condos.
“That witness stated that at about 10:50 p.m. or thereabouts, she was walking toward the ‘back room’ when she came upon a person lying at the bottom of the back staircase seemingly unconscious,” Condos said. “There was no one else present. She went to the person and realized it was [the injured teen], who she knows from school. She stayed with [him] assessing his condition for a minute or so and then ran to find someone for help. She ran into the back room and found [the teen] talking with some people … She described [the teen] as ‘just chilling’ and hanging out. They both went to [the injured youth] where [an individual] tried to revive him using a ‘sternum rub,’ ” Condos said.
It didn’t work. The girl then told [the teen] to phone 9-1-1 or his own mother, Condos said. He phoned his mother at about 10:59 p.m., according to the arrest warrant application for Douglas Knight.
Based on multiple witness statements, police established that the youth fell around 10:50 p.m.
One witness told police that she listened as [the teen] spoke to his mother “for several minutes” and told her about the injury.
“She could also hear his mother tell him, ‘Don’t call the cops—dad says not to call 911—wait till we get there,’ ” according to Condos. “This troubled [the girl] (that 9-1-1 was not to be called) and she immediately tried to call her father at 11:06 (as recorded by her iPhone). The call did not go through so she ran to the residence’s landline and did make contact with her father at 11:07 and told him what was happening and that the Knights were on the way home.”
During that period, [the teen] also phoned his father and they spoke for 3 minutes and 36 seconds, Condos said.
“He presumably gave more details and/or an update of the apparent emergency,” Condos said. “Since 911 was still not called, [the teen] was presumably again told not to call 911 and to wait for his parents’ arrival.”
Before the Knights got home, a set of parents arrived at the house to collect their daughter, at approximately 11:10 p.m., Condos said.
“They both tried to rouse [the youth] but were unsuccessful,” the report said. “At this point [the teen] was on the phone again with his mother and handed the phone to [one of the adults] who spoke with Mrs. Knight.”
The mother “told Mrs. Knight that she also thinks 911 should be called,” according to Condos. “For whatever reason, 911 still was not called—possibly due to the Knights staying that they are very close to returning to the residence—and [one individual] states that they did arrive a very short time later, perhaps at 11:10-11:15.”
The father of the injured youth also arrived around this time, Condos said.
“After learning the commotion surrounding [his son] and realizing it was [he] that was unconscious, [the father] tried to sit [the boy] up against the wall,” Condos said.
The injured youth “opened [his] eyes briefly and then ‘went out again,’ ” according to Condos.
The father was described as “being in shock and at times not responding to” those around him when they tried to address him, the report said.
At 11:16 p.m. (according to an iPhone timestamp), the concerned girl was again on the phone with her father, who asked whether 911 had yet been called, Condos said. The girl handed the phone to Douglas Knight’s wife and heard the woman ask, “What should I do?”
When she was told to call 9-1-1, the Douglas Knight’s wife hung up and said she was going to do that—“at this point, Mr. Knight interjected and said ‘No,’ ” the report said.
Witnesses attested in statements that Douglas Knight said “I don’t want cops in my house” and “We can take [the youth] (to the hospital) ourselves,” according to Condos.
This angered some of those present, who talked about being a “Good Samaratin” and assuring Douglas Knight that he wouldn’t get into trouble but must ring 9-1-1, the report said.
But Douglas Knight refused and one of the female witnesses present called him a “[expletive] dick.”
Finally, the concerned girl’s father phoned police at 11:23 p.m., Condos said. Douglas Knight’s wife phoned police a minute later.
One witness reported that “at the hospital she asked [the teen’s] mother, how she learned that [the youth] had been hurt and there was a problem in her house,” the report said. “Knight told her that [the teen] called her and told her about [the youth] and asked if he should call 911. Knight confirmed that she told [the teen] not to call 911 and they would be coming home soon.”
Also, the injured boy’s father “related that prior to arriving at the Knight residence he was completely unaware of anything wrong.”
“He had been texting [his son] at just about 11 p.m. to see if [he] needed a ride home. He was unsure of which friend’s house [his son] went to for the evening. He was getting no response to [his] text and so he called Douglas Knight’s cellular telephone number to speak with him and ask if there was a baseball party at his house (and surely his [son] would be there).”
A woman answered that call and “they had a short conversation and she confirmed that [the youth] was at her house and that they were on the way home,” the report said. “She did not tell or indicate in any way to [the youth’s] father that anything was wrong. She did not inform him that his own [son’s] emergency is the reason the Knights were on the way home at that very time. The recorded time of the telephone call by [the injured youth’s] father to the Knights is 11:09 p.m.—firmly in the timeframe where the incident is full blown. [The boy’s] father was furious after learning this ‘deception.’ ”
Douglas Knight was released on $5,000 bond and scheduled to appear June 1 in state Superior Court in Norwalk. The teen was released on $5,000 bond and scheduled to appear May 31 in state Superior Court in Norwalk.
The Knights retained legal counsel and declined to be interviewed by police, according to an arrest warrant application.
“The liquor store where the alcoholic beverages were purchased, World of Beverages, was referred to the State of Connecticut Liquor Control Commission,” Ferraro said in the press bulletin.
According to the arrest warrant application for [the teen], “the introduction of alcohol to the youth party … started out as a New Canaan baseball team party only.”
“ [The teen], in his own and/or parents’ vehicle, transported [an individual] and six other juvenile members of his baseball team to the World of Beverage liquor store in Norwalk,” Condos wrote.
He collected $10 from each of his passengers in order to help pay for the alcohol, and he himself entered the store—a fact confirmed by video surveillance there, police said.
He then traveled back home “where he had preplanned to use the residence for the party,” Condos wrote.
Several of the youths said that they had been to previous parties hosted by [the teen] at his Oenoke Ridge Road home, police said.
“In fact, one of [the teen’s] retrieved text messages—March 25 at 20:11—alluded to the fact that his parents ‘are still mad’ about a party that apparently got out of control ‘last weekend,’ ” according to Condos.
The teen appeared to collect $10 from other members of the baseball team who arrived at his residence for the party, and then texted and invited “more people to his party and around 8:30-9:00 p.m., many non-baseball youths were arriving as well as a girl of girls that were specifically invited,” according to Condos.
“Text messages showed that other youths were asking [the teen] if they could come to the party and he allowed them into his residence—asking them to let him know when they arrived and to come to the front door.”
The youths interviewed by police acknowledged that “a large alcohol party” was in progress “with many youths freely consuming and others involved in a ‘beer pong’ game,” Condos wrote. It appears that up to 50 youths were in the residence, he said.
The party had been “in full progress for hours with no attempt to halt the underage alcohol consumption” until about 10:45 p.m. “when it is acknowledged that [the teen] became very angry and began shouting to everyone ‘not on the baseball team’ to get out of his house,” according to Condos.
Some of the statements made by various youths regarding [the teen’s] anger include “getting sick in the bathroom,” “it was overcrowded,” “alcohol available to anyone,” “out of control,” “kids started throwing beer cans around,” “pouring beer on the floor” and “really drunk.”
Police in March, immediately after receiving reports of a youth party where a New Canaan was seriously injured, put out a call for information on what had transpired at the residence. Many New Canaanites in the intervening weeks, including some members of the injured juvenile’s own family, have expressed eagerness for the department to conclude its investigation.