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Grand Juror Probes Police Shooting

White Officer Killed Black Youth In May

November 10, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer

A grand juror has been appointed to review a controversial shooting in Hartford earlier this year in which an undercover police officer shot and killed a teenager suspected of carrying a gun, sources close to the investigation said.

Subpoenas have already been sent to Hartford police detectives who initially investigated the case, sources said.

The anonymous grand juror, believed to be a judge, was appointed at the request of Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly, who took over the investigation to avert any potential conflict of interest on the part of authorities in Hartford.

Connelly declined to comment on the probe, which is expected to take several months.

The shooting of 18-year-old Jashon Bryant created a groundswell of anger in the city's North End, where the shooting took place. Bryant, who is black, was shot and killed by Hartford Officer Robert Lawlor, who is white.

On May 7, Bryant had been sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked in a lot 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, who were part of a task force aimed at removing illegal guns from the streets, believed that they had seen Bryant and another young man holding a gun as they sat in the car.

The officers ordered Bryant and Henry to get out of the car, but Henry started the car - and Lawlor opened fire. Bryant was killed instantly, and Henry drove off despite being shot once in the chest. He continued for several blocks, eluding police before crashing into a parked car.

Lawlor later said he opened fire when he saw Bryant reaching for what he believed was a gun. But despite an extensive search of the car and the surrounding neighborhood, police were never able to recover a weapon.

Sources close to the investigation said several subpoenas have already been sent to Hartford detectives, and more are expected to follow.

Two weeks ago, sources said, Connelly joined a team of state forensics experts to reconstruct the shooting at the spot where it happened. The experts are now reviewing the information to determine if the shooting could have happened the way Lawlor said it did, according to sources.

Jefferson Jelly, the attorney representing Bryant's family, said the family was glad to hear that a grand juror had been appointed to review the shooting.

"There is a lot riding on this investigation, not only for the Bryant family but for the community," he said. "The family is grateful that everything is being done to get to the bottom of this situation. ... The community needs to know that if there is a bad apple in the police department, then something will be done to remove it."

A. Paul Spinella, the attorney for Henry, said his client has not been sent a subpoena yet, although Henry is one of the key witnesses in the case. So far, Henry, who recovered from his injuries, has not provided police with a statement. Henry was later arrested after police said they recovered drugs from the car.

Lawlor and Prather have both provided statements, although Lawlor's attorney, Michael Georgetti, who represents the city police union, declined to comment on the investigation.

Lawlor remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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