The defense attorney for a suspended Hartford police officer asked a Superior Court judge Tuesday to dismiss the charges against his client because the prosecutors in the case had improperly shared secret information from the grand jury with other lawyers.
Attorney Michael Georgetti said Officer Robert Lawlor's case was prejudiced when former Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano transferred the criminal case to New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington.
Georgetti said information about the grand jury proceedings should not have been forwarded to Dearington without the permission of the three-judge panel that determined there was probable cause that Lawlor committed a crime when he fatally shot 18-year-old Jashon Bryant and wounded another man during a stakeout in May 2005.
Additionally, Georgetti questioned whether attorneys in Dearington's office committed prosecutorial misconduct when they shared the grand jury information with attorneys representing Brandon Henry and the family of Jashon Bryant.
Lawlor was charged with manslaughter and assault in the death of Bryant, who was a passenger in a car parked on North Main Street when Lawlor and Dan Prather, an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, approached the vehicle.
Lawlor and Prather were trying to remove illegal guns from the streets, Lawlor has said.
Lawlor told investigators he believed that Bryant and another man in the car, Henry, had a gun when he ordered them out of the vehicle. Instead of getting out, Henry drove away and Lawlor opened fire. Bryant was killed instantly. Henry was wounded in the chest and crashed into a parked car several blocks away.
Police did not find any weapons in the car after the shooting.
Prather told the grand jury that he did not believe his life was in danger as he stood beside the car, according to documents.
During Tuesday's hearing, Georgetti called Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly, who presented evidence to the grand jury, and attorneys Jefferson Jelly, A. Paul Spinella and David Jaffe, who represent Henry and the estate of Bryant, to testify that they had received copies of the grand jury documents.
Prosecutor Kevin Doyle said the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings were not released to the attorneys until after Lawlor's arrest and his arrest warrant affidavit and the investigative grand jury report were made public.
Doyle argued that prosecutors have the authority to keep victims and victims' families informed during a criminal case.
Judge Joseph Koletsky is expected to make a decision after March 18.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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