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Report: Deadly force justified in fatal New Britain shooting

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ROCKY HILL -- The state's attorney for Fairfield County has issued a report that found officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in New Britain in December, 2017 were justified in using deadly force.

The report concludes that officers who fired upon the driver of the car, Zoe Dowdell, and killed him were justified in the actions they took.

Read the report here.

Following every police shooting in Connecticut, by law, an investigation is completed by the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s office.

On December 14, 2017, police officials attempted to stop a teal Toyota Paseo suspected in a string of violent carjackings and armed robberies that occurred throughout New Britain and the surrounding areas. When they failed to stop, officers exited their cruisers with their weapons drawn and ordered the driver and passengers out of the vehicle.

More videos below

The suspects allegedly refused to comply and instead drove towards the officers at high speed, prompting them to open fire on the vehicle to make it stop.

Officers closed in on the vehicle and detained three individuals, all of whom had sustained gunshot wounds. Ambulances arrived on the scene a short time later and the suspects received medical care.

Zoe Dowdell, 20, of Bloomfield was identified as the driver. He was shot in the neck and later died in the hospital from his injuries.

Noah Young, 18, of Bloomfield was transported to New Britain General Hospital for treatment of graze wounds and minor lacerations to his arm before being released to State Police custody.

The parents of Caleb Tisdol, who was wounded had called on officials to release the dashcam videos.

"The New Britain Police Department is thankful the investigation into this tragic event is over," a statement from New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell read. "As we accept the findings of the independent investigation we also continue to pray for the life that was lost in this tragic incident, the families of those affected, and our community," the chief's statement said. "The New Britain Police Department’s Administrative Investigation will now proceed upon receipt and full review of the State Police Investigation and State’s Attorney Smriga’s findings," Chief Wardwell said.

One of the main issues with this shooting investigation is the more than a year’s delay in its release.

In a statement to FOX 61, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said:

“The loss of any life is tragic and painful. We have been praying, and continue to pray, for everyone involved. The families, the City police officers, and the community collectively have been anxious over the release of this report. Now that it has been released, we will take the opportunity to thoroughly read it.
“We will then begin our own administrative investigation to determine whether any of our city policies were violated.
“We thank the state police and the state’s attorney for their professionalism, given the serious nature of this investigation.
“We will continue to pray for peace and healing in the coming weeks and months.”

David McGuire of the CT ACLU said,

“We live in a society with checks and balances and there’s no way to check the police, unless the public is able to see this dash cam footage.” And the ACLU also released a statement after the video was released Thursday:
The following is a statement from ACLU of Connecticut legal director Dan Barrett, who represents Dowdell’s father, Shawn Dowdell, in his legal case seeking records and information from the Connecticut State Police and New Britain police:
“It is unconscionable and inhumane that Fairfield State’s Attorney, New Britain police, and Connecticut State Police forced Shawn Dowdell to wait for more than one year only to first see footage of his son’s death online. Because of police and prosecutors’ decisions to ignore and oppose the Dowdell family’s repeated requests for transparency, a grieving father is still in the dark about his son’s death at the hands of police. The Fairfield State’s Attorney’s report is not a ruling from a court and has no bearing on whether it should be tolerable in Connecticut for police to summarily execute a young man on the street. Prosecutors and police still have not released all of the evidence about what happened to Zoe Dowdell. Our legal case on behalf of Shawn Dowdell seeking full transparency and information about Zoe Dowdell’s death will continue.”

Caution: These videos show officers firing on the vehicle which resulted in one death and several injuries. There are obscenities as well. 

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