The chief state’s attorney’s office released police dashcam video footage of the shooting of 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz by a Wethersfield officer, according to cbsnews.com.
The shooting occurred on April 20 and Cruz died on April 22 as a result of his wounds. According to WFSB, family members said Cruz was shoot twice in the head. Cruz was unarmed.
A week after Cruz, who was known as “Chulo”, died, his family hired the well-known civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump. Crump represented the families of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, according to courant.com.
Wethersfield police officer Layau Eulizier and officer Peter Salvatore initially pulled Cruz over because the license plates on the car he was driving were not registered to the vehicle, according to the cbsnews.com article. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave. In 2015, Eulizier was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting which was ruled justified.
The video, released by the state’s attorney’s office on May 3, shows Wethersfield police officer Layau Eulizier running in front of a car while it is briefly stopped, according to cbs.com. Eulizier yells, “Show me your hands” several times and fires two shots through the windshield.
The video footage is from Eulizier’s cruiser, another cruiser dashcam and surveillance video from a nearby business.
The video shows police stopping Cruz, who then takes off when the officer steps out of his cruiser, according to WFSB channel 3. Police catch up to Cruz down the road and attempt to stop him again. At that point, the video shows Cruz reversing his car in an attempt to flee, but his car and the police cruiser bump each other, and Cruz manages to take off.
At that point video footage shows the officer outside of his patrol car attempting to stop the car from fleeing. Cruz drives his car toward the officer who starts firing his gun directly into the windshield toward the driver.
Following the shooting, WFSB spoke with Cruz’s girlfriend Stephanie Santiago, who was in the passenger’s seat when the shooting occurred.
She told WFSB that Cruz had no intention of hurting anyone.
“He was trying to steer back and that’s when the cop came in front of the car, so he wasn’t trying to hit the cop,” Santiago said.
In statement, Wethersfield Mayor Amy Morrin Bello said, “We are grateful to the Hartford State’s Attorney for promptly releasing the video evidence. This was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the family of Anthony Vega Cruz. The three videos may be disturbing to some as they show the danger of the events as they unfolded on April 20. This is a danger that our police officers face every day in the line of duty. We must be patient and allow the process to continue and wait to see the investigation through to completion.”
Lawyers for Cruz’s family, Crump and Michael Jefferson said the videos show Eulizier “acted recklessly” when he shot at the unarmed couple.
“We are devastated, enraged and continue to demand justice for their son and brother,” the lawyers said in a statement. “The officer must pay for his actions. We urge the State’s Attorney to bring swift justice for this hurting family and criminally charge the officer who killed Chulo.”
Sources: cbsnews.com, WFSB, courant.com