Homicide suspect Cordaryl Silva was feeding information to Ansonia police about a drug-dealing crew before allegedly shooting and killing one of the main targets of the investigation, the Valley Indy has learned.
Silva, 25, of Ansonia, is accused of murdering 22-year-old Javon Zimmerman in the parking lot outside RJ’s Cafe in Derby May 12.
On June 1, Ansonia police announced they had arrested nine people on drug and gun charges, the culmination of a six-month narcotics investigation into the “Zimmerman family and their associates.”
In a search warrant connected to the drug investigation, Ansonia police describe the Zimmerman crew as “the main street-level suppliers of crack-cocaine in Ansonia and the surrounding Valley towns.”
“The majority of the drug-related complaints and drug-related violence over the past several years can all be linked to the Zimmerman organization,” a warrant authored by Ansonia Police Officers Kristen Hunt and Alexander Barreira states.
The drug crew’s leaders, according to the warrant, included Keyshon Zimmerman, who ran the operation from jail; Roosevelt Scott, Kassie Zimmerman — and Javon Zimmerman. The suspects are related and either live in the Valley or are originally from the Valley. Silva is a distant cousin.
Silva provided police with insider information regarding how the crew worked, ranging from where the crew allegedly stashed crack cocaine on High Street in Ansonia to the location of a .45 caliber handgun on Cottage Street in Derby.
Why Silva turned from informant to suspected killer remains unclear. Derby police charged him with Javon Zimmerman’s murder June 18. The warrant Derby police used to arrest Silva remains sealed. His next court date is July 25.
A message seeking comment was left this week with Silva’s lawyer, Lawrence Hopkins.
Silva’s Facebook posts in the weeks leading up to the shooting indicated he may have been upset over a relationship with a female or a perceived lack of street cred for having served jail time. His account has since been removed or been made private.
Court documents do not explicitly identify Silva as a confidential informant, but the Valley Indy was able to confirm it with several sources.
A search warrant affidavit states Ansonia police, using previous warrants obtained in March and April, attached GPS trackers to four vehicles allegedly being used by the Zimmerman crew to sell drugs. One of the cars was a Honda Accord frequently used by Javon Zimmerman.
The night Zimmerman was murdered, the car arrived at the RJ’s Cafe on Elizabeth Street in Derby parking lot at 1:51 a.m. He was shot within nine minutes.
The fact that Silva was working with police — and then allegedly killed a target of the investigation — could cause the cases spawned by the probe to crumble, said John R. Williams, a defense lawyer.
Williams represents three people ensnared by the drug investigation, including one of the crew’s alleged leaders, Roosevelt Scott.
“Having read this, I think this is quite appalling,” Williams said of the details in the search warrant. “It strikes me that this is a murder that could have been prevented. Number one, it is committed by an agent of the police of a person whom the police had, according to them, under constant surveillance. “
Williams said an outside law enforcement agency should investigate — specifically the U.S. Justice Department — how Ansonia police used Silva.
He also said Silva seems to be an integral part of the police investigation.
“Their man killed the man he was supposed to be investigating, at a time when they had (Zimmerman) under surveillance. That, to me, is horrifying,” Williams said. “This is someone they had working with them on the case.”
Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale said investigators didn’t know a crime was going to occur, and wouldn’t have turned a blind eye if they had.
“If we had advance information that a violent crime was going to be committed anywhere, we would do everything in our power to prevent it,” Hale said. “That is our job.”
Hale declined to comment further on the issue, citing the myriad of criminal cases pending in court.
The warrant does not say Ansonia investigators were watching Zimmerman or Silva the night of the killing. It states a GPS device was attached to the car. The warrant does not reveal how police collected information from the GPS device.
On GPS and Informants
Most police departments in Connecticut do not have the manpower to provide 24-hour physical surveillance of a suspect, said Dr. John DeCarlo, an assistant professor at the University of New Haven’s Lee College of Criminal Justice.
A GPS device is often used so that investigators can gather data that can be transmitted without necessarily following the suspect, DeCarlo said.
The GPS data Ansonia police collected was used — along with other information, such as undercover drug buys — to get a judge’s permission to raid 11 residences in five towns.
The use of confidential informants is a key ingredient of police work — especially drug investigations, said DeCarlo, the former chief of the Branford Police Department.
But the practice comes with drawbacks. Confidential informants, more often than not, are criminals. Hence, their intimate knowledge of local crimes and the players involved.
“Police departments usually have codified rules when using confidential informants,” DeCarlo said. “It’s not just something they do off the cuff. They’ll usually register a confidential informant. Because confidential informants are usually criminals themselves, the department will often talk to a prosecutor about the use of an informant, or they’ll talk to another agency if they are working in conjunction with another agency.”
Silva has a few convictions on his criminal record and has served prison sentences at different times for selling drugs and carrying a dangerous weapon.
His most recent arrest prior to being charged with murder was March 9, when three misdemeanor charges were filed against him in connection to an alleged assault that happened Jan. 21.