Watch CBSN Live

Connecticut authorities release dashcam footage of fatal police shooting of 18-year-old

Connecticut officials have released video of an officer-involved shooting in Wethersfield that happened last month. The 18-year-old driver, Anthony Jose Vega Cruz, was fatally wounded.

Wethersfield Officer Layau Eulizier is seen on police dashcam and business surveillance videos running in front of a car while it is stopped briefly during the April 20 chase. Eulizier yells, "Show me your hands" several times and fires two shots through the windshield.

Vega Cruz died two days later at a hospital. His 18-year-old girlfriend, Stephanie Santiago, who was a passenger during the shooting, was not injured.

A second officer, Peter Salvatore, pulled Vega Cruz over shortly before the shooting. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave. Eulizier was previously involved in a fatal 2015 officer-involved shooting that was ruled justified.

CBS Hartford affiliate WFSB spoke with Santiago, who insists Vega 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 told the station.

Eulizier and another officer were trying to pull over Vega Cruz, whose nickname was Chulo, because the license plates on the car were not registered to that vehicle, officials said.

Conn. police dashcam shows officer opening fire by Associated Press on YouTube

Lawyers for Vega Cruz's family, Ben 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."

David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said there was no reason why a problem over license plates should have escalated into a fatal shooting that endangered motorists on the busy, four-lane Silas Deane Highway. He urged state lawmakers to pass legislation to reduce and better track violence by police.

Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy and Wethersfield officials said they released the videos in the interest of transparency while Hardy determines whether the shooting was justified. Hardy said she did not know how long the investigation will take.

Wethersfield Mayor Amy Morrin Bello said the footage highlights the dangers "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."

Parts of the videos were edited "out of respect for Mr. Vega Cruz and his family," Hardy said. There also was no audio on most of the dashcam video because of apparent microphone synching problems, Police Chief James Cetran said.

It was the second time in two weeks that Connecticut officials have taken the unusual step of releasing video of a police shooting so soon after it happened.

Last week, officials released footage of two police officers opening fire on an unarmed couple in a car in New Haven on April 16, while responding to a reported attempted armed robbery. A 22-year-old woman was wounded but survived.

Both shootings sparked several days of protests by families, clerics, Black Lives Matter activists and others. All three officers who fired their guns in the two shootings are black.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue