On Tuesday, 03/28/2023, the Connecticut State Police became aware of videos posted to Instagram and Facebook social media platforms depicting the operator of an unknown Chevrolet traveling at speeds of approximately 133 MPH in an area recognized by investigators to be Route 7 in Norwalk. The posted speed limit on this portion of Route 7 is 55 MPH.
The video was approximately 18 seconds in duration and depicted a vehicle with a Chevrolet emblem on the steering wheel accelerating from approximately 56 MPH to 133 MPH, based on the vehicle’s visible speedometer. A date and time stamp indicated that the videos were likely uploaded to the platforms on or about 03/27/2023. At the time of the investigation, the Instagram and Facebook account settings allowed for posts and videos to be viewed by the general public.
Trooper Pretel #1104, at Troop G in Bridgeport, was assigned to investigate the incident and attempt to identify the vehicle and operator depicted in the videos. Information included in the Instagram profile used to post the video, indicated that the user was “Joe Tavella III,” and included the description “69 nova pro touring Is2 procharged”.
A Facebook account with the profile name “Joe Tavella III” depicted a white male who was also depicted on the Instagram account as well as a black Chevrolet Nova classic vehicle as the cover photo. The same video of the vehicle traveling on Route 7 in Norwalk had also been posted to the Facebook account.
While gathering information about the vehicle and operator from the video, Trooper Pretel observed the reflection on the dashboard/windshield area of what appeared to be a white male, with visible tattoos on his right arm, recording the video using a hand-held cell phone which was held in his left hand.
While examining other images posted to the social media profiles, an image depicting the same vehicle was discovered, displaying a Connecticut Historical registration plate. Upon conducting a DMV database check for the registration plate, the corresponding vehicle was identified as a 1970 Chevrolet Nova, registered to Joseph D. Tavella, DOB 02/05/1987, of Norwalk. The individual depicted in the driver’s license photo associated with Tavella matched images of the individual associated with the Instagram/Facebook accounts used to post the video. Through further investigation, Trooper Pretel was able to identify a telephone number associated with Tavella.
On Thursday, 03/30/2023 at approximately 12:37 p.m., investigators made contact with Tavella, who agreed to speak with them. While speaking with Tavella, troopers observed a black Chevy Nova nearby. During their interactions, Tavella provided troopers with the vehicle’s insurance information and admitted to driving the vehicle on Route 7 and recording the video on the afternoon of Sunday, 03/26/2023. Investigators determined that the weather conditions depicted in the video were consistent with weather conditions in the Norwalk area on the afternoon of 03/26/2023.
Based upon the information obtained during this investigation, troopers applied for an arrest warrant affidavit for Joseph D. Tavella, which was granted on 03/31/2023.
On Tuesday, 04/11/2023, after learning of the active warrant for his arrest, Tavella turned himself in at Troop G, where he was taken into custody, processed and charged with the following:
C.G.S. 14-222, Reckless Driving
C.G.S. 14-296aa(b1st, Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Using a Hand-held Mobile Telephone/Electronic Device
C.G.S. 53a-64 Reckless Endangerment in the 2nd Degree
Tavella was held on a court-set $100,000.00 bond and transported to Stamford Superior Court for a same-day arraignment.
Reckless driving behavior puts everyone on the roadway at risk. Help us keep Connecticut’s roadways safe by calling 9-1-1 to report reckless drivers or other emergencies, as soon as it is safe to do so.