A report released Thursday by the State's Attorney's Office says five New Britain police officers were justified in opening fire on a car during an attempted traffic stop in December 2017.
Police said they attempted to stop a car on Chapman Street around 6:45 p.m. on December 14, 2017, when the car drove at them.
A total of five officers fired their weapons, killing the driver, 20-year-old Zoe Dowdell. An 18-year-old was also injured and a 15-year-old in the car was not hurt. The two teens were both charged in connection with the incident.
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Officers stopped the car because it was suspected to have been involved in several carjackings.
The shooting was captured on police dashcam video and was released as part of the state's attorney's report.
State's attorney John Smirga, of the Fairfield State's Attorney's Office, determined that the officers reasonably believed their lives could be at risk and they were justified to shoot at the car.
Detective Marcin Ratajczak, Detective Christopher Kiely, Officer Michael Slavin, Officer Kyle Jones, and Officer Chad Nelson were all placed on restricted duty after the shooting.
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, released the following statement on the report:
“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.”
Chief James Wardwell said Thursday the officers will remain on restricted duty until he can fully review the report.