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Police release video showing fatal shooting of driver during traffic stop

The police dashboard camera and business surveillance videos show an unarmed teenager being shot in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

(Hartford State’s Attorney via AP)
(Hartford State’s Attorney via AP)

Videos have been released showing a US police officer’s fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man during an attempted traffic stop, which sparked protests by the teenager’s relatives and activists.

The police dashboard camera and business surveillance videos show Layau Eulizier, an officer in Wethersfield, Connecticut, run in front of the car while it was stopped briefly on a busy four-lane road on April 20, and then fire through the front windscreen when the teenager drove at him.

The driver, Anthony Jose Vega Cruz – nicknamed Chulo – died two days later in hospital. A passenger, his 18-year-old girlfriend, was not injured.

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(Hartford State’s Attorney/AP)

Mr Eulizier and another officer who did not fire his gun were trying to pull over Mr Vega Cruz because the licence plates on the car were not registered to that vehicle, officials said.

Lawyers for Mr Vega Cruz’s family, Ben Crump and Michael Jefferson, said the videos show Mr Eulizier “acted recklessly” when he shot at the unarmed couple.

“We are devastated, enraged, and continue to demand justice for their son and brother,” the lawyers said in a statement.

“The video tells the story, and now the officer must pay for his actions. We urge the state’s attorney to bring swift justice for this hurting family and criminally charge the officer who killed Chulo.”

Mr Eulizier was placed on paid leave pending the investigation, under normal police protocols.

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(Hartford State’s Attorney/AP)

Hartford state’s attorney Gail Hardy and Wethersfield officials said they released the videos in the interest of transparency while Ms Hardy investigates and determines whether the shooting was justified.

She said she did not know how long the investigation will take.

Parts of the videos were edited “out of respect for Mr Vega Cruz and his family, but the material being released does capture the portions of the incident pertinent to the investigation into the use of deadly force”, Ms Hardy said.

“I reiterate that this will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation to allow me to determine whether the use of force resulting in the death of Anthony Vega Cruz was justified under the applicable law,” she said in a statement.

It is the second time in two weeks that Connecticut officials have taken the unusual step of releasing video of a police shooting so soon. They traditionally have waited until after an investigation is completed, as law enforcement officials in many other states do.

Last week, officials released police body camera and surveillance video of two police officers opening fire on an unarmed couple in a car in New Haven on April 16, while responding to a reported attempted armed robbery. A 22-year-old woman was wounded but survived.

Both police shootings sparked several days of protests by families, clerics, Black Lives Matter activists and others. All three officers involved in the two shootings are black.

PA

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