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
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
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.
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