OUR VIEW: Shooting questions remain

Published on Monday, 7 January 2019 16:43
Written by Editorial


We’ve seen the video, we’ve read the report, we have talked with officials and heard from the families of the men who were shot. And, we still have questions.

We are referring to the fatal police-related shooting of Zoe Dowdell in New Britain.

Dowdell was killed Dec. 14, 2017 as New Britain officers were trying to stop his green Toyota Paseo which was believed to be involved in at least four violent armed carjackings. Dowdell was with 15-year-old Caleb Tisdol, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, and 18-year-old Noah Young, who was in the back seat, when police spotted the vehicle and opened fire on the car as it attempted to flee.

A state investigation cleared the five officers involved in the shooting in a report released last week. The police dash cam video was also released.

The report declared the police officers’ actions justified. We believe the dash cam video doesn’t fully support this finding.

The dash cam video shows the green car with the suspects inside being boxed in by police.

The driver attempts to make a three-point type turn to try and get away from police who surround the car on foot with their weapons drawn. The front seat passenger holds his hands in the air signaling surrender as the driver hits the gas. The officers start shooting, firing 28 bullets as the driver tries to flee.

The report states that Dowdell was shot four times, once in the back of the head. The report also states that the officers said they feared for their lives.

What we see in the video is a chaotic scene, not a controlled halt and arrest of the suspects by the police. With one officer holding his gun sideways as he fires and other officers scrambling and shooting, we question if proper police procedures and training for such an incident were ignored.

New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said an Internal Affairs probe will now be launched to determine whether proper protocols were followed.

We recognize the difficult and dangerous job police officers do every day. They are the first line of defense for law abiding citizens. And as citizens, we expect officers to be properly trained for any situation, to perform their jobs in a professional and controlled manner and to do so without injuring themselves or others.

The IA report will be telling and we hope it will bring necessary, positive changes, because to excuse the reckless behavior of a few officers is an injustice we cannot condone.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Monday, 7 January 2019 16:43. Updated: Monday, 7 January 2019 16:45.