Hartford State’s Attorney Gail P. Hardy Releases Video Recordings from April 20, 2019, Police-Involved Shooting
On April 20, 2019, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Wethersfield Police Officer Peter Salvatore attempted to effect a motor vehicle stop of a vehicle that was operated by Anthony Vega Cruz on Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield.
Mr. Vega Cruz initially stopped, but then engaged police in a brief pursuit. In the area of 965 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield Police Officer Layau Eulizier, Jr., discharged his firearm striking Mr. Vega Cruz, causing him to suffer serious physical injury. An 18-year-old female who was in the front passenger seat of the motor vehicle was not injured. Wethersfield Police and Emergency Medical Services providers responded immediately to provide first aid to Mr. Vega Cruz, who was transported to Hartford Hospital via ambulance.
On Monday, April 22, 2019, Mr. Vega Cruz succumbed to his injuries. State law (General Statutes Section 51-277a) requires that the investigation into any death resulting from the use of force by a police officer be conducted by a State’s Attorney from a Judicial District other than that where the incident occurred. The Town of Wethersfield is in the Judicial District of New Britain. In accordance with Section 51-277a, Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane assigned the investigation into the April 20, 2019, incident to the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford. The Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad was assigned to be the lead investigative agency to assist the State’s Attorney with this investigation.
This State’s Attorney, the Wethersfield Police Department and the Wethersfield Town officials have pledged a transparent and thorough investigation. Accordingly, today we are releasing to the news media audio/video recordings from this incident that have been obtained as evidence by the Central District Major Crime Squad under consent from a nearby business and the Wethersfield Police Department. The audio/video recordings being released today are deemed the most pertinent to the use of force. These recordings have been 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.
The first video is from the dash cam in the police vehicle operated by Officer Eulizier. The second video is from the dash cam in the police vehicle operated by Officer Salvatore. He did not discharge his firearm. The third video was captured by a security camera at a nearby business. Wethersfield police officers are not outfitted with body cams.
This investigation is in its early stages and I am unable to state at this time how long it will take to complete. Connecticut State Police continue to gather Wethersfield Police Department policies, evidence and to interview witnesses. 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.
The Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad is actively investigating this incident and welcome any other additional information from the public. The Central District Major Crime Squad can be contacted at (860) 706-5652.