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Friday, April 10 Police Reports

Cop cleared in fatal Wethersfield shooting; advocates ‘outraged’

588的彩舒适wethersfield — civil rights advocates are decrying the exoneration of a wethersfield officer who shot and killed a hartford teen during a traffic stop in april 2019.

588的彩舒适the death of 18-year-old anthony jose “chulo” vega cruz prompted changes in state law that now prohibit police officers from placing themselves in front of a moving vehicle and firing into a fleeing car except under certain circumstances.

588的彩舒适but hartford state’s attorney gail hardy who investigated the fatal shooting announced wednesday that wethersfield officer layau eulizier, jr. was justified in firing on vega cruz who was trying to flee a traffic stop. he will not face any criminal charges in the shooting.

“we are outraged that the officer will not face charges, but we remain hopeful that we will help the cruz family find justice in civil court,” said civil rights attorney ben crump who is representing vega cruz’s family. “we intend to pursue civil lawsuits against the officer and the wethersfield police department. this execution-style killing was senseless - a traffic violation should not carry a death sentence.”

at least one advocacy group questioned the timing of the release of the report - during the coronavirus pandemic which has prompted mass closures and a need for people to remain home.

588的彩舒适vega cruz’s death came within a week of a hamden officer and a yale university officer firing on an unarmed man who was mistakenly believed to be an armed robbery suspect.

hamden officer devin eaton fired 13 shots at the vehicle driven by paul witherspoon, striking the 21-year-old driver’s passenger, stephanie washington. eaton was .

both shootings prompted protests and a last minute bid within the state legislature to make police more accountable and the investigations into the deadly use of force more transparent.

588的彩舒适on the final day of the legislative session in early june 2019, both the state senate and house of representatives passed a bill listing changes in state law including prohibiting officers from placing themselves in front of a vehicle.

588的彩舒适after a nearly year-long investigation, hardy determined that eulizier was justified in firing into vega-cruz’s vehicle. one of the shots hit the 18-year-old in the head, hardy’s report said.

588的彩舒适wethersfield police were trying to stop the car on a technical violation, hardy said. it appeared that the vehicle was displaying plates that belonged on another car. eulizier was one of the officers who responded to the scene and wound up bumping his cruiser into vega cruz’s infiniti as he arrived on the scene, the report said.

588的彩舒适eulizier got out of the cruiser and positioned himself in front of vega cruz’s car yelling for the driver to show his hands, the report said. he then fired two shots into the car, the report said. his dash camera showed the incident, including the officer’s maneuver placing himself in front of the car which was still trying to flee.

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eulizier had joined the wethersfield police department eight months before. he had been previously exonerated for his role in a fatal police-involve shooting in bolton in 2015 while he was with the manchester police department. the one round he fired during that incident did not hit the suspect, hardy said.

eulizier had been cited by manchester police chief marc montminy for “conduct unbecoming an employee” in january of 2018 after an investigation determined that he had used “unsafe techniques” as he attempted to take a suspect out of a vehicle while simultaneously pointing his service firearm at the man.

588的彩舒适montminy recommended “remedial training” for eulizier who he said demonstrated “poor performance during incidents where he appears to be under stress.”

he also received “written instruction” by wethersfield commanders about one month after his hiring for violating the department’s pursuit policy, hardy said.

588的彩舒适she ultimately concluded however that eulizier was justified since he was “in fear that the operator was about to run him over and that he would lose his own life. his belief that deadly force was needed to defend himself and others from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force was objectively reasonable and therefore justified,” hardy said.

588的彩舒适“once again, a connecticut prosecutor has decided not to pursue justice for a young man of color who was killed by police,” said david mcguire, executive director of the connecticut american civil liberties union, which has championed police accountability and a change in the standards for determining justified police-involved shootings.

“anthony jose ‘chulo’ vega cruz should still be alive today,” mcguire said. “it is shameful and unconscionable that state’s attorney hardy and the division of criminal justice chose to release this news in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, forcing people to choose between protecting their health and protesting and mourning the state’s choice not to pursue justice for chulo.”

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