NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) -- The State's Attorney released a report into a deadly officer-involved shooting that happened in New Britain two Decembers ago, saying the “use of deadly force” by all officers involved was justified.

The deadly shooting happened on Dec. 14, 2017 in the area of Chapman Street.

Zoe Dowdell, a 20-year-old from Bloomfield, was shot and killed.

Before the shooting, police were trying to stop the car in which Dowdell, an 18-year-old Noah Young, and a 15-year-old were riding in.

Police said it matched the description of a car suspected in a string of violent car jackings.

The report said officers had reason to believe the occupants were armed.

"Based on their knowledge of a previous carjacking attempt only days prior, involving the same vehicle, during which shots were fired at the intended victim, it was reasonable for investigating officers to conclude that there was a substantial probability that the occupants of the vehicle were armed and represented a significant threat to the community," the report said.

While officers were trying to stop the car, it hit at least two police cruisers in an attempt to flee and then got stuck.

Then the car jerked forward toward several officers.

At that point, the report said several officers were out of their vehicles with guns drawn shouting commands at the vehicle occupants.

The car ultimately went past the police officers and crashed into a parked pickup truck.

In a dash cam video, the front-seat passenger is seen with his hands in the air, as though trying to surrender, but the driver continues to try fleeing.

That's when shots were fired.

The report said “A total of 28 shots were fired within a span of approximately 10 seconds while the car maneuvered to escape the police barricade. Subsequent examination by Connecticut State Police investigators revealed that 13 of these were observed to have impacted the Toyota. A 14th was recovered from an uninvolved civilian vehicle. The impact locations of the other 14 bullets are unknown.”

Dowdell was the driver of the car and was taken to the hospital where he died.

According to the report, officers found a loaded handgun on the driver's seat floor of the car and a second handgun that was not loaded.

The 15-year-old passenger was found with narcotics and ammunition.

Young was found to have narcotics.

The two teens remain in jail awaiting their next court dates.

"It's like shooting fish in a barrel. I don't know what could justify that kind of firepower," said Cornell Lewis, family spokesperson. 

Cornell Lewis is the spokesperson for the suspect's families. They waited a year and a month for the dashcam video to be releases and they say they don't understand house the shooting could be justified. 

"There were no shots from the car at the police officers. The car got kind of close to the police officers, I saw that, but there were a lot of bullets fired into that car," Lewis said. 

The ACLU agrees with Lewis. 

"The practice of shooting into a moving car has generated a ton of misery in this state. Police need to consider if it's appropriate to do that," said Ban Barrett, ACLU Legal Director. 

New Britain Chief of Police James P. Wardwell released a statement after the investigation was completed: 

“The New Britain Police Department is thankful the investigation into this tragic event is over. 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 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.”

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart also released a statement: 

“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.”

Read the full report here.

This story is developing and updates will be posted shortly.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

(1) comment


great job officers! one less perp car jacking innocent hard working people.

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