Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Windham Concerning the Death of Brandon Uzialko on October 24, 2017, in Norwich, Connecticut.
The following is a report concerning the tragic death of Brandon Uzialko on October 24, 2017. I wish to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Uzialko.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE INCIDENT
Mr. Brandon Uzialko had criminal charges against him stemming from an August 2016 incident. He had been accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. After being arrested for Strangulation in the Second Degree; Assault in the Third Degree; Disorderly Conduct; Interfering with an Emergency Call; and Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, he was brought to court where the Court issued an order for him to stay away from her residence. He was arrested in another case on September 2, 2017, and charged with Criminal Trespass at a different location.
On Saturday, October 21, 2017, the Norwich Police were dispatched to his ex-girlfriend’s residence in town on a report of a stabbing. During the investigation, Brandon Uzialko was determined to be the suspect. He was accused of breaking into her home and stabbing her new boyfriend ten times causing that male serious physical injuries.
Based upon their investigation Norwich Police obtained an arrest warrant on Monday, October 23, 2017, for Brandon Uzialko for the following crimes: Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder; Risk of Injury to a Minor; Home Invasion; and Assault in the First Degree.
Norwich Police interviewed Mr. Uzialko’s friends and family members in an effort to locate him and serve him with the arrest warrant. They also informed the public to be on the lookout for Mr. Uzialko whom they had reason to believe was armed and dangerous. They responded to multiple sightings of Mr. Uzialko throughout the day.
On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. patrol officers were assigned to conduct surveillance in an effort to locate Mr. Uzialko.
A reported sighting of Mr. Uzialko at the Square Package Store at 288 Broad Street led officers there at 6:30 p.m. After arriving at the store, the officers viewed a surveillance video. One of the officers positively identified a man seen on the video as Mr. Uzialko. Officers told police dispatch a description of the clothing Mr. Uzialko was seen wearing in the video and the description was broadcast to all officers. One of the officers who heard the description was Officer Damien Martin.
At 6:25 p.m. Officer Martin was investigating a motor vehicle accident/crash in the rear of 680 Boswell Avenue. While there he heard the dispatch of the suspect sighting at the package store. He heard that a Norwich Police K-9 team had begun to track Mr. Uzialko from the package store in the direction of Baltic Street. After wrapping up his motor vehicle accident/crash investigation around 7 p.m., he called dispatch to see where he was needed next. He learned Mr. Uzialko was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and was carrying a black colored backpack.
Officer Martin headed toward the sighting area traveling south on Boswell Avenue. It was dark and raining. He saw a person walking north on the east side of Boswell Avenue in a poorly lit area. When he shone his headlights, he could see the person matched the description of Mr. Uzialko. He radioed to dispatch that he had somebody with a dark hooded sweatshirt and backpack on Boswell near 9th and 10th Streets. Officer Martin drove his marked cruiser behind Mr. Uzialko. He activated his vehicle’s overhead emergency lights and got out of his cruiser.
Mr. Uzialko was eight to ten feet away from Officer Martin facing the opposite direction. Officer Martin demanded a show of hands. Mr. Uzialko turned toward Officer Martin and fired. Officer Martin saw the muzzle flash of Mr. Uzialko’s shot. Fearing for his life, Officer Martin returned fire. Civilian witnesses driving nearby saw the exchange.
Apparently one of Officer Martin’s shots hit Mr. Uzialko’s upper back shoulder. Mr. Uzialko fled on foot. The officer ran after Mr. Uzialko who then disappeared into the back yard of neighboring homes. Mr. Uzialko’s cell phone and backpack were later recovered in the yard of one of the homes on the path where he fled. Mr. Uzialko then ran north on Boswell Avenue toward 12th Street.
Officer Martin radioed dispatch “shots fired” less than a minute after his initial sighting call to dispatch. He requested additional officers to set up a perimeter in an effort to find Mr. Uzialko. Officer Martin stayed at the intersection of Boswell Avenue and 12th Street. He did not see Mr. Uzialko again.
Multiple officers were dispatched and converged on the area. Having heard Officer Martin’s dispatch and learning Officer Martin was not injured, Sergeant Anthony Gomes then drove past Officer Martin on Boswell Avenue. Sergeant Gomes drove to 14th Street and Prospect Street to set up a perimeter. When he got out of his car he heard a single gunshot. Sergeant Gomes notified Norwich Police dispatch of “shots fired” approximately six minutes after Officer Martin’s original “shots fired” call.
As law enforcement flooded the area, Mr. Uzialko’s mother and sister came to the area. They were stopped by police for their safety. Police told homeowners to stay inside. Ultimately Mr. Uzialko was spotted in front of a home located at 318 Prospect Street.
At 10:40 p.m., Norwich Officer Zachary Barber saw Brandon Uzialko slumped over, motionless on the front walkway of 318 Prospect Street. He and a Connecticut State Police SWAT member approached Mr. Uzialko giving verbal commands for Mr. Uzialko to show his hands. Officer Barber noted a black pistol about a foot from the non-responsive Mr. Uzialko. As Officer Barber approached Mr. Uzialko, he saw a wound to Mr. Uzialko’s head. A SWAT medic checked Mr. Uzialko and found no pulse or other signs of life. A paramedic from American Ambulance examined Mr. Uzialko in front of 318 Prospect Street. The paramedic then consulted with a physician from Backus Hospital who pronounced Mr. Uzialko as deceased. An investigator from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner later arrived on the scene. Mr. Uzialko’s body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Susan S. Williams performed the autopsy of Mr. Uzialko. In her December 6, 2017, report, she concluded the cause of Mr. Uzialko’s death to be a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of his death to be suicide. Toxicology results indicated no drugs nor ethanol (alcohol) was detected in his blood. In addition to his head wound, Mr. Uzialko sustained a penetrating wound to his left chest.
A 9mm pistol was found in front of Mr. Uzialko’s body. The weapon was tested and found to be operable. The weapon matched the type of weapon gun box found amongst Brandon Uzialko’s possessions at his home.
Section 51-277a of the General Statutes provides in part that, whenever a peace officer in the performance of such officer’s duties, uses physical force upon another person and such person dies as a result thereof, the Division of Criminal Justice shall cause an investigation to be made and shall have the responsibility of determining whether the use of physical force by the peace officer was appropriate under Section 53a-22.
Pursuant to Section 51-277a(b), the Chief State’s Attorney designated a prosecutorial official of a judicial district other than the judicial district in which the event occurred to conduct the investigation. On October 25, 2017, Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane assigned the undersigned State’s Attorney of the Judicial District of Windham.
The Connecticut State Police Eastern District Major Crimes Division forwarded their primary incident investigation on August 22, 2018. After reviewing that investigation and securing additional information, it is the conclusion of the undersigned that Brandon Uzialko did not die as a result of the use of deadly physical force by Norwich Police Officer Damien Martin. The actions of Officer Martin given the circumstances were appropriate, his conduct admirable.
Mr. Uzialko’s shooting at Officer Martin justified Officer Martin’s use of deadly force. The deadly physical force used by Officer Martin as evidenced by the autopsy report, however, cannot be found to have been the proximate cause of the death of Mr. Uzialko. The facts clearly indicate Mr. Uzialko died from a gunshot to his head, which the evidence indicates was self-inflicted.
I would like to thank the Connecticut State Police Eastern District Major Crimes Division for their investigation. No further action is to be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice as a result of this incident.
Dated at Danielson, Connecticut this 7th day of March, 2019.
ANNE F. MAHONEY
WINDHAM JUDICIAL DISTRICT