#officerinvolvedshooting #Wethersfieldpoliceshooting #AnthonyJoseVegaCruz
Wethersfield, Connecticut --- Nearly two weeks since a Wethersfield police officer shot an 18-year-old driver after a traffic stop, the chief state’s attorney’s office released dashcam footage and surveillance video on Friday that show the incident that led to the man’s death.
“The video footage released today by the State’s Attorney’s office".
The initial police account of the shooting went like this: It was about 6 p.m. on a Saturday when two Wethersfield police officers tried to pull Vega Cruz over. After the incident, Wethersfield police Chief James Cetran explained the stop to a TV reporter, saying that “the plates did not match the car … The officer thought it was a stolen car.”
State police said at the time that Vega Cruz’s car and a police car eventually collided. An officer got out of his car and “the suspect’s vehicle drove towards that officer,” state police said on April 21. That officer, later identified as Layau Eulizier, then shot Vega Cruz and fatally wounded him. Vega Cruz’s family says he was shot twice in the head.
Friday’s video release gives more context. The footage and surveillance videos show it was raining when Peter Salvatore, the Wethersfield officer who initiated the traffic stop, pulled Vega Cruz over. Both cars came to a complete stop. After about 30 seconds, Salvatore approached the stopped car on foot. That’s when Vega Cruz began to drive away, leading to a pursuit on Silas Deane Highway.
Down the road, Eulizier joined the pursuit, making a U-turn to continue after Vega Cruz’s car, which appeared to spin out of control onto the side of the highway.
Eulizier’s police SUV then rammed into Vega Cruz’s car head-on. Eulizier got out of his vehicle with his gun drawn and positioned himself in front of Vega Cruz’s car. He appeared to shout “show me your hands” three times, though this has not been immediately confirmed by police.
Salvatore’s SUV then arrived, nearly colliding with Vega Cruz’s car. Seconds later, Salvatore hit Vega Cruz’s car on the driver’s side.
As the vehicle began to pull away, Eulizier fired his gun 2 times into the front windshield. The car came to a complete stop. Vega Cruz’s passenger opened her door, as the car again began to drive forward. Both officers approached the vehicle on foot with guns drawn, and the car came to a stop. The passenger - who was not shot -- stepped out, hands in the air, and sat on the ground.
The Wethersfield Police Department said this week that Eulizier, known as “Junior,” had been hired in August 2018 and did not have a disciplinary history on his record. Neither did Salvatore, who joined the department in 2013.
Credit: By KATHLEEN MCWILLIAMS
| HARTFORD COURANT
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