New Haven State's Attorney Reports on Use of Force Investigation

On August 16, 2016, shortly after 10 a.m., members of New Haven Fire Department Engine 10, American Medical Response, and the New Haven Police were dispatched to 480 Ferry St. upon the receipt of a 911 call. The caller, Paula Rodriguez, told the dispatcher that her son had entered her apartment and was acting strangely. Her son was in possession of a serrated knife about 5 to 6 inches in length. She further indicated that her son wanted the police to come so that he could attempt to stab the officer and then be shot and killed by the police. Rodriguez also stated that her son suffered from mental illness. Rodriguez spoke little English and the information was relayed to the dispatcher through an interpreter.

Arriving firefighters entered the lobby of 480 Ferry St. and met Paula Rodriquez. The firefighters were able to communicate with Rodriguez through a bilingual security guard. Rodriguez told the firefighters basically the same information she had provided to dispatch including the fact that her son had told her he wanted to commit "suicide by cop."

New Haven Police Officer Brian Jackson entered the lobby and was being updated by fire personnel. At this time the elevator door on the first floor opened and a Hispanic male wearing no shirt exited. Witnesses in the lobby state that this male took a step or two out of the elevator and then took a knife out of his pocket. The knife was described as a kitchen or steak knife with a blade approximately 4 ½ to 8 inches long. The translator in the lobby advised Officer Jackson that this male was the person Rodriguez was speaking of.

Lobby witnesses state that this man, later identified as Roberto Orsini-Rodriguez, walked quickly and directly toward the police officer. Officer Jackson was heard to give commands to drop the knife at least two times. As these command were being given the officer was observed by witnesses to be retreating backward. The Hispanic male was holding the knife in his right hand in an aggressive manner as if he was going to lunge forward. Officer Jackson fired twice at this male when the distance between them was in the range of two to eight feet according to witnesses. Struck twice, Orsini-Rodriguez fell to the ground and was subdued. He received medical attention at the scene and was then transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he received further treatment for his injuries. He will survive.

At the direction of New Haven State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin, the Connecticut State Police Central Division Major Crime Unit investigated the use of force by Officer Brian Jackson. The reports and statements generated by this investigation have been reviewed by State’s Attorney Griffin and it is his conclusion that the use of force exercised by Officer Jackson was both reasonable and justifiable in order to protect both himself and other individuals at the scene.

The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office commends the New Haven Police Department and the Connecticut State Police for the professionalism displayed during the course of this investigation.