CSAO: Report on the Death of Gerard Chapdelaine

Report on the Death of Gerard Chapdelaine

Report of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of New Britain Concerning the Shooting Death of Gerard Chapdelaine in Wethersfield on November 6, 2007

Scott J. Murphy
State’s Attorney
Judicial District of New Britain
April 11, 2008

Acknowledgments | Introduction | Summary of the Evidence | Applicable Wethersfield Police Department Procedures and Policies | Applicable Law Regarding the Use of Deadly Force by Police Officers | Findings of Fact | Conclusion

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In issuing this report concerning the death of Gerard Chapdelaine, the undersigned received important assistance from a number of state agencies. These agencies include the Connecticut State Police, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the State Police Forensic Science Laboratory. Their assistance and expertise permitted the undersigned to have a complete and thorough investigation into this tragic event. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the members of the Wethersfield Police Department, all whom fully cooperated with the State Police and the New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office and provided all information requested of them.

INTRODUCTION

In the early morning hours of November 6, 2007, at approximately 12:30 a.m., officers of the Wethersfield Police Department, while on duty, responded to a report of a suspicious individual leaving the Food Bag Convenience Store, located at 384 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, Connecticut. Shortly thereafter, Gerard Chapdelaine was observed by the police walking southbound on the Silas Deane Highway. Wethersfield Police officers encountered Mr. Chapdelaine and subsequently Mr. Chapdelaine was shot by the police, thereby causing his death.

The New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office was notified of this incident and personnel from that office responded to the scene. The undersigned, upon being advised of the incident and that Mr. Chapdelaine was deceased, requested that the Connecticut State Police conduct an investigation into the shooting of Mr. Chapdelaine. This decision was made pursuant to General Statutes Section 51-277a(a), which requires the State’s Attorney to conduct an investigation, utilizing appropriate law enforcement agencies, whenever a peace officer, in the performance of his duties, uses deadly physical force upon another person and such person dies as a result. This statute requires the State’s Attorney to determine, upon completion of the investigation, the circumstances of the incident and whether deadly force was appropriate under Section 53a-22 of the General Statutes.

The Wethersfield Police Department, upon learning of the shooting, immediately dispatched additional officers to the location of the incident, who began to investigate the incident. Their duties included securing the scene and identifying and interviewing witnesses. The officers involved in the shooting were removed from the scene and instructed not to discuss the incident with each other. The weapons and clothing of the police officers who had discharged their firearms were seized and later turned over to the State Police. Officers from the Central District Major Crime Squad of the Connecticut State Police arrived in Wethersfield at approximately 2:30 a.m. on the morning of the shooting and the investigation was then turned over to them. They were briefed on the incident by officers from the Wethersfield Police Department and thereafter commenced their investigation.

The State Police, on the morning of the shooting, processed the shooting scene and the surrounding area. In addition, that morning and on subsequent days, they conducted interviews of witnesses. An autopsy on the body of Mr. Chapdelaine was performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and a written report was made of that autopsy. The State Police Forensic Science Laboratory conducted several examinations of physical evidence and written reports were thereafter generated.

Upon completion of their investigation, the State Police provided to the undersigned their investigative results, including police reports, written witness statements and reports of forensic tests performed. After reviewing all pertinent documents and pursuant to Section 51-277a(c) of the General Statutes, this report is hereby filed.

SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE

Overview

In the early morning hours of November 6, 2006, Gerard Chapdelaine entered the Food Bag Convenience Store, located at 384 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, Connecticut and purchased a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. He then left the store and walked in a southerly direction. The attendant noticed that Mr. Chapdelaine had blood on his face and hands and no visible injuries. This and other observations caused the attendant to become suspicious and to telephone the Wethersfield Police to report the incident.

As a result of this telephone call, the police dispatcher sent two police officers, Officer Ronald Floyd and Officer Anthony DeMonte, to look for this individual. Officer Michael Wren, who had been with Officer Floyd, heard the radio transmission and also responded. Mr. Chapdelaine was observed by the police officers walking southbound on the sidewalk of the Silas Deane Highway. The officers stopped their vehicles with the intent of approaching Mr. Chapdelaine. Mr. Chapdelaine brandished a handgun and multiple shots were fired. During the incident, Officer DeMonte retrieved his department issued rifle from his police cruiser and shot Mr. Chapdelaine. Mr. Chapdelaine fell to the ground, was subdued and then transported to Hartford Hospital, where he died.

Later that night, Wethersfield police were contacted by Hartford police personnel and advised that Mr. Chapdelaine was a suspect in a shooting incident that had occurred earlier in the evening at 47 Bolton Street, Hartford. As a result of that shooting incident, Lorna Coley, the mother of Mr. Chapdelaine’s girlfriend, was killed.

Processing of the Scene

Members of the Central District Major Crime Squad of the Connecticut State Police processed the scene, the intersection of Silas Deane Highway and Church Street and the surrounding area, during the early morning hours of November 6, 2007. This processing including a survey of the area, the drafting of a sketch map, videotape and still photography of the scene, and the identification, seizure and cataloguing of numerous pieces of evidence. Police reports were written detailing the processing of the scene. During the processing of the scene a heavy, steady rain was falling.

The Silas Deane Highway is a major commercial thoroughfare in Wethersfield which runs in a generally northerly and southerly direction. Church Street runs in a generally west and east direction, with a traffic light at the intersection with the Silas Deane Highway. In this area the Silas Deane Highway has three southbound lanes and two northbound lanes. There are a number of commercial establishments in this area of the Silas Deane Highway, including a Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop, which was open at the time of this incident, and a Lamore’s Gulf Station. Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop is approximately .2 miles south of the Food Bag Convenience Store and both establishments are located on the east side of the highway. Illumination consisted of overhead street lights on the east side of the Silas Deane Highway as well as lighting emanating from the nearby commercial establishments.

The scene itself was more than three hundred feet long. At the north end of this scene a marked Wethersfield Police vehicle was parked in the right northbound lane of the Silas Deane Highway, facing in a southerly direction. In the area around this vehicle the State Police found four expended Winchester .40 caliber shell casings. At the southern end of this scene was found a second marked Wethersfield Police vehicle, parked in the center and right southbound lanes and facing in a northeast direction. Adjacent to the driver’s side front tire of this vehicle was a "Ruger" Blackhawk .357 revolver, covered by an orange raincoat. Twenty-five feet south of this police vehicle, the State Police found a .223 caliber shell casing. To the northeast of this police vehicle, the State police found two medical kits, loose currency and coins, a lighter, a box cutter type knife and boxes of Marlboro brand cigarettes.

The State Police located a bullet like projectile in the parking lot of the Corner Store, a convenience store located on the Silas Deane Highway in the southeast corner of the intersection with Church Street. A copper colored suspected bullet jacket was found on the driveway of Bellezza Salon & Spa, which is located on the east side of the Silas Deane Highway, south of the intersection with Church Street.

Two suspected bullet strikes were observed during the processing of the scene. The first was in a utility pole, CL&P #1401, located in front of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. This strike was approximately 43 inches from the ground. Found at the base of this pole were bullet-like fragments. The second apparent bullet strike was found in the "Tim Horton’s" sign located on the property of this establishment. As examination of this strike led investigators to conclude that the direction of the projectile that struck this sign was north to south.

The "Ruger" Blackhawk .357 revolver previously mentioned was examined by the State Police. It was found with the hammer back in a cocked position and red blood-like stains were present on the trigger guard as well as on the frame of the weapon in the vicinity of the trigger guard. The cylinder portion of the weapon was askew within the frame to the point of where the cylinder could not be turned and had to be removed from the weapon with force. Once the cylinder was removed it was noted that the cylinder had a maximum ammunition capacity of six rounds. The cylinder contained four expended shell casings and two empty chambers. The State Police further noted what appeared to be multiple firing pin strikes on the primers and bases of the expended shell casings located in the cylinder.

The clothing, firearms, magazines and duty belts of Wethersfield Police Officers Ronald Floyd and Anthony DeMonte were seized and turned over to the State Police. In addition, the firearms of Officer Wren, Detective Patkoske and Sergeant Fisher were inspected and all ammunition was accounted for. An atomic absorption analysis kit was performed on the hands of Mr. Chapdelaine at Hartford Hospital, as well as Wethersfield Police Officers DeMonte, Wren and Floyd, Sergeant Fisher and Detective Patkoske. At the hospital bullet like fragments and projectiles were seized from the clothing of Mr. Chapdelaine.

Several days after the shooting, the Wethersfield Police were notified by a resident that a bullet had been found on the sidewalk in front of 48 McMullen Avenue, Wethersfield. A Wethersfield police officer went to that location and found and seized a R-P .357 magnum jacket hollow point bullet. The bullet was later turned over to State Police investigators. This bullet was similar to the fired cartridge cases found in the revolver seized at the scene. It had two small indentations on the brass. McMullen Avenue is located between Bolton Street, the scene of the Hartford shooting, and the location of the Wethersfield shooting which is the subject of this report.

Witnesses

Allen Woods

Allen Woods gave a written statement to the Wethersfield Police Department on November 6, 2007. The following information is based on this statement.

Mr. Woods was the attendant at the Food Bag Convenience Store on the morning of November 6, 2007. At approximately 12:25 a.m. he was outside smoking a cigarette when a man now known as Gerard Chapdelaine walked toward the store from the Silas Deane Highway. Mr. Woods and Mr. Chapdelaine entered the store, with Mr. Woods going behind the counter. Mr. Chapdelaine asked for a pack of Marlboro box cigarettes. Mr. Woods noticed that there was blood on the face and hands of Mr. Chapdelaine. Mr. Chapdelaine explained the presence of blood by saying that his car had been towed and he had punched out a window because he was upset. Mr. Chapdelaine then asked for and received permission to use the bathroom to clean up. He remained in the bathroom one or two minutes and then left the Food Bag. Mr. Woods watched Mr. Chapdelaine as he walked across the parking lot and headed south on the Silas Deane Highway.

Mr. Woods stated that he was suspicious because he did not observe any visible injury on either hand of Mr. Chapdelaine. He concluded that the story given by Mr. Chapdelaine was not accurate and that the blood most likely was not from Mr. Chapdelaine. Immediately after Mr. Chapdelaine left the store, Mr. Woods called the Wethersfield Police Department to report his observations and suspicions. The dispatcher told him that they would send somebody to look for this individual.

Officer Ronald Floyd

Officer Floyd wrote and signed a police report describing his involvement in this incident. The following information is taken from this police report.

Officer Floyd of the Wethersfield Police Department was on duty working the midnight shift on the morning of November 6, 2007. He was sitting in his police cruiser, which was parked at the intersection of Church Street and Main Street, speaking with Officer Wren, who was in his parked cruiser, when Officer DeMonte and he were contacted over the radio by the police dispatcher. The dispatcher told them that the clerk at the Food Bag had reported that a man with blood on his face and hands had left the store heading south on the Silas Deane Highway. The dispatcher further told him that the clerk had seen no cuts on the man. A description of the man was given to the officers. Both Officer DeMonte and Officer Floyd acknowledged the dispatcher.

Officer Floyd drove west on Church Street and then turned onto the Silas Deane Highway, heading north. Officer Floyd observed a man fitting the description given by the dispatcher walking south on the sidewalk adjacent to the Silas Deane Highway. Officer Floyd stopped his vehicle and, with a spotlight, illuminated the man, Mr. Chapdelaine, who was approximately 30 feet north of the officer. The man lifted up his sweatshirt, pulled out a large revolver from his waistband and uttered the phrase, "yeah, motherfucker".

Officer Floyd began to drive his vehicle northbound on the Silas Deane Highway heading in the direction of the suspect individual. At the same time he alerted other officers, using his police radio, to the fact that the suspect had a gun, yelling "gun, gun". Mr. Chapdelaine began to jog southbound on the sidewalk with the handgun pointed in the direction of Officer Floyd. The two came within 10-15 feet of each other. Officer Floyd passed Mr. Chapdelaine and then turned his vehicle around and began to drive southbound on the Silas Deane Highway, stopping his vehicle in the middle of the road, across from Premier Cleaners.

Officer Floyd exited his vehicle and took cover behind it. He saw Mr. Chapdelaine continuing to jog down the sidewalk of the Silas Deane Highway to the vicinity of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. He also saw the cruiser of Officer Michael Wren, which had arrived at the scene and was now parked in the roadway of the Silas Deane Highway. Mr. Chapdelaine was now pointing his handgun at the cruiser of Officer Wren.

Officer Floyd called for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon, which resulted in Mr. Chapdelaine turning and pointing his handgun at Officer Floyd. Officer Floyd could hear a clicking sound, which he interpreted as being Mr. Chapdelaine pulling the trigger of the handgun, with the intent of shooting Officer Floyd, but the gun malfunctioned. Officer Floyd then fired his weapon twice at Mr. Chapdelaine.

Mr. Chapdelaine, after being fired upon, took cover behind a telephone pole. Both Officers Floyd and Wren continued to call for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon but he did not do so. Mr. Chapdelaine began to "fiddle" with his handgun, which Officer Floyd believed was an attempt to clear the malfunction. Mr. Chapdelaine then pointed the gun at Officer Floyd and again clicking sounds were heard. Officer Floyd concluded that Mr. Chapdelaine was continuing in his efforts to shoot him. Officer Floyd as a result fired two more times at Mr. Chapdelaine. Officer Floyd saw Mr. Chapdelaine flinch and then Mr. Chapdelaine called out "come on motherfucker". At about this time Officer Floyd looked back and saw that Detective Patkoske and Sergeant Fisher had arrived on scene and had parked their vehicles on the Silas Deane Highway.

Officer Floyd then observed Officer DeMonte driving his police cruiser northbound on the Silas Deane Highway, stopping his vehicle approximately 10 feet from Mr. Chapdelaine. Officer Floyd alerted Officer DeMonte by radio of the location of Mr. Chapdelaine. This caused Officer DeMonte to drive northbound on the Silas Deane Highway, make a u-turn, proceed southbound on the Silas Deane Highway and then stop his vehicle south and east of Officer Wren’s vehicle.

Officer Floyd heard repeated calls made by various police officers for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon. Mr. Chapdelaine then began to walk toward the cruisers of Officers Wren and DeMonte. Officer Floyd heard two shots fired that he did not recognize as coming from a police issued Glock handgun. Officer Floyd saw Mr. Chapdelaine walking on the Silas Deane Highway, in front of the two police cruisers, when he heard a rifle shot. This shot caused Mr. Chapdelaine to stagger, fall to the ground and drop his handgun. Officers then approached Mr. Chapdelaine, handcuffed him and called for an ambulance. The handgun of Mr. Chapdelaine was picked up by Officer Wren and moved away from Mr. Chapdelaine.

Officer Michael Wren

Officer Wren wrote and signed a police report describing his involvement in this incident. The following information is taken from this police report.

Officer Wren is a Wethersfield police officer who was on duty on the early morning hours of November 6, 2007. At approximately 12:30 a.m. he was in his parked cruiser in the area of Church Street and Main Street, talking with Officer Floyd. He heard over his police radio the dispatcher send Officers Floyd and DeMonte to the Food Bag on a report of a suspicious man with blood on his hands and face. Officer Wren decided to respond to the scene with Officer Floyd.

Upon turning his cruiser north onto the Silas Deane Highway Officer Wren saw the suspect, Mr. Chapdelaine, walking southbound on the sidewalk. He observed Officer Floyd drive up to Mr. Chapdelaine. Officer Wren parked his vehicle in the parking lot of Premier Cleaners, which was 25-30 feet in front of Mr. Chapdelaine. As Officer Wren was parking his vehicle he observed Mr. Chapdelaine pull out a large handgun. He saw Officer Floyd drive north on the Silas Deane Highway, with Mr. Chapdelaine pointing the gun at Officer Floyd’s vehicle. Mr. Chapdelaine then looked in the direction of Officer Wren and pointed the gun at this officer. Officer Wren put his vehicle into reverse and drove from the parking lot onto the Silas Deane Highway, stopping his vehicle in the area of Lamore’s Gulf Station.

Officer Wren exited his vehicle, using the car door for protection, and drew his firearm. Officer Wren began to call for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon. He observed Mr. Chapdelaine walking south on the Silas Deane Highway until he reached Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. He saw Mr. Chapdelaine then stop, point the gun at Officer Floyd and repeatedly pull the trigger. Officer Wren heard clicking sounds but the gun did not fire. He then heard shots being fired, which he later determined had come from Officer Floyd. Mr. Chapdelaine got behind a telephone pole, approximately 80 feet from Officer Wren’s position and pointed the gun at Officer Wren. Officer Wren again saw the trigger being pulled and heard clicking sounds but the firearm did not discharge. Officer Wren then heard another shot fired, which he later determined came from Officer Floyd.

Officer Wren then saw that Detective Patkoske and Sergeant Fisher had arrived at the scene and heard the siren of Officer DeMonte cruiser as he arrived. Officer DeMonte stopped his vehicle in front of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop, in front of the telephone pole where Mr. Chapdelaine was located. Officer DeMonte then drove north on the Silas Deane Highway and Officer Wren heard Officer DeMonte yell, over the radio, that Mr. Chapdelaine had a gun. Officer DeMonte then parked his vehicle behind the cruiser of Officer Wren.

Mr. Chapdelaine then moved away from the telephone pole and Officer Wren saw him attempt unsuccessfully to fire his handgun at the police. After Mr. Chapdelaine "fiddled" with the gun, he again pointed the gun at Officers DeMonte and Wren and pulled the trigger. This time, Officer Wren reported, he twice saw flashes from the muzzle of the handgun and the sounds of a gunshot. At this time Mr. Chapdelaine was approximately 75-80 feet from Officer Wren.

Mr. Chapdelaine then began to walk across the highway. Officer Wren heard officers repeatedly yell for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his firearm. In addition, he heard Detective Patkoske use his loudspeaker to make similar demands. Officer Wren stated that he did not fire his handgun at this time because of a fear of striking another officer in the background. Mr. Chapdelaine walked toward the center line of the highway and then headed south toward the cruisers of Officers Wren and DeMonte. Officer Wren stated that he lost sight of Mr. Chapdelaine at this time because a spotlight from another police cruiser blinded him. Officer Wren moved along his vehicle looking to get a view of Mr. Chapdelaine when he heard Officer DeMonte say that the suspect was down. Officer Wren stated he did not hear the rifle shot that struck Mr. Chapdelaine.

Officer Wren then approached Mr. Chapdelaine who was lying on the pavement and saw the revolver on the ground next to Mr. Chapdelaine. He moved the gun away from Mr. Chapdelaine. First aid was administered to Mr. Chapdelaine and an ambulance was requested.

Officer Wren stated that he believed that Mr. Chapdelaine’s intention throughout this incident was to kill a police officer.

Detective Michael Patkoske

Detective Patkoske wrote and signed a police report describing his involvement in this incident. The following information is taken from this police report.

Detective Patkoske had worked the evening shift on November 5, 2007 and remained after midnight to complete work on a report. He was in the Wethersfield Police station with Sergeant Fisher when he overheard the radio transmission of Officer Floyd about a gun. Detective Patkoske immediately left the police station in an unmarked cruiser and drove to the scene. Sergeant Fisher was in a police vehicle behind him. Upon arriving at the scene Detective Patkoske parked his vehicle on the roadway of the Silas Deane Highway, approximately 75 yards north of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. He observed Officer Floyd’s cruiser also parked on the Silas Deane Highway north of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. He saw an individual standing next to a telephone pole near the restaurant. He heard Officer Floyd shout for the suspect to drop his weapon and then heard two shots fired. Detective Patkoske then saw Mr. Chapdelaine walk across the highway and heard two more shots fired. The detective was unsure who had fired these four shots. Detective Patkoske used the public address feature in his vehicle to demand the suspect drop his weapon. This request was made, Detective Patkoske estimated, 15-20 times, but Mr. Chapdelaine did not comply with this order. Instead he walked in the middle of the roadway. Detective Patkoske heard a single rifle shot and saw Mr. Chapdelaine fall to the ground.

Detective Patkoske requested an ambulance be dispatched. He saw Officer Wren handcuff Mr. Chapdelaine. He observed officers provide Mr. Chapdelaine with first aid until the ambulance arrived.

Sergeant Michael Fisher

Sergeant Fisher wrote and signed a police report describing his involvement in this incident. The following information is taken from this police report.

Sergeant Fisher was the supervising sergeant on duty at the time of this incident. He was in the police station with Detective Patkoske when he heard Officer Floyd broadcast the words, "gun, gun". Both Detective Patkoske and he went to their respective vehicles and drove to the scene. Upon his arrival he observed the parked vehicles of Officers Floyd and Wren and Officer DeMonte’s cruiser traveling northbound on the Silas Deane Highway. Sergeant Fisher parked his cruiser on the Silas Deane Highway, between the vehicles of Officer Floyd and Detective Patkoske. He saw Officer DeMonte move his vehicle to the area where Officer Wren’s vehicle was parked. He also saw the suspect, Mr. Chapdelaine, standing behind a telephone pole. He and other officers ordered Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon and get on the ground but he did not comply. Sergeant Fisher obtained from the trunk of his vehicle a beanbag shotgun, a less lethal weapon, but determined that Mr. Chapdelaine was too far from him for the weapon to be used. He then moved to Officer Wren’s vehicle. From that location he observed Mr. Chapdelaine leave the telephone pole and begin to walk across the highway with his arm raised toward Officers Wren and DeMonte. Sergeant Fisher continued to be unable to use the less lethal force weapon because of the distance and concerns over cross-fire.

Sergeant Fisher observed the defendant loitering on the roadway north of Officer Wren’s vehicle when he heard the two gun shots fired, seconds apart. He also observed at least one muzzle flash associated with the gun shot. Sergeant Fisher did not know who fired these two shots but knew it was not Officer Floyd, Detective Patkoske or himself. Mr. Chapdelaine began to walk south on the roadway toward Officer Wren’s vehicle, when Mr. Chapdelaine fell backwards to the ground. Sergeant Fisher did not hear the rifle shot that struck Mr. Chapdelaine.

After Mr. Chapdelaine fell, Sergeant Fisher rushed to where Mr. Chapdelaine was lying. He observed Officer DeMonte stand over Mr. Chapdelaine, Officer Wren move a revolver away from the body of Mr. Chapdelaine and Detective Patkoske call for an ambulance.

Officer Anthony DeMonte

Officer DeMonte wrote and signed a police report describing his involvement in this incident. The following information is taken from this police report.

Officer DeMonte was on duty on the early morning of November 6, 2007 and was assigned the responsibility of patrolling a portion of Wethersfield in a patrol vehicle. As a member of the Capitol Region Emergency Services Team he was assigned a Colt M-4 Carbine Automatic Rifle, which he kept in the trunk of his patrol vehicle. At approximately 12:30 a.m. he was sent by the dispatcher to the area of the Food Bag on the Silas Deane Highway on a report of a man with blood on his face and hands. Soon after, he heard on his radio that Officer Floyd had observed this man in front of the "Victorian Gallery" building on the Silas Deane Highway. Moments after that transmission Officer DeMonte heard Officer Floyd transmit the words, "gun, gun". As a result Officer DeMonte activated his lights and siren and drove toward the scene.

Upon arrival at the scene Officer DeMonte saw several police vehicles north of the intersection with Church Street. Officer DeMonte was now unsure of whether Officer Floyd had said "run, run" which would mean a foot chase, or "gun, gun". As he drove up to Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop he heard over the police radio Officer Floyd telling him to keep moving, that the suspect was next to him. Officer DeMonte then saw Mr. Chapdelaine standing behind a utility pole, with a gun in his hand. He saw Mr. Chapdelaine raise his hand and point the gun at him. Officer DeMonte quickly moved his vehicle, parking his vehicle just south and west of Officer Wren’s vehicle. Officer DeMonte exited his police car and moved to the back of the vehicle. As he did this he heard several people yelling, "drop the gun, drop the gun". He retrieved his rifle from the trunk of the vehicle and aimed it at Mr. Chapdelaine. Officer DeMonte was concerned that if he fired this weapon he might strike police officers who were north of his location.

Officer DeMonte watched Mr. Chapdelaine for a period of time but then lost sight of him. He then heard two gunshots which he believed were near his position. Officer Wren, in response to a question from Officer DeMonte, stated that the gunshots were Mr. Chapdelaine firing at them. Officer Wren also stated that Mr. Chapdelaine was coming toward them. Due to two shots having been fired, which Officer DeMonte believed had been fired by Mr. Chapdelaine and being unable to locate Mr. Chapdelaine, Officer DeMonte’s concern for his physical safety was heightened.

Before Officer DeMonte could take action, he again saw Mr. Chapdelaine walking east on the Silas Deane Highway, a few yards north of Officer Wren’s vehicle. Mr. Chapdelaine had the revolver in his hand, pointing toward the ground. Officer DeMonte noted that given the present position of Mr. Chapdelaine and himself, a missed rifle shot would likely hit a brick wall by Premier Cleaners. Officer DeMonte then aimed his rifle at Mr. Chapdelaine and fired. Mr. Chapdelaine fell backward as a result of being shot.

Officer DeMonte stated that he fired his weapon because Mr. Chapdelaine was armed, had not complied with demands that he drop his weapon and had already fired two shots at police officers. He was also concerned that he would lose sight of Mr. Chapdelaine again. Because of the presence of other officers, he was also concerned over the possibility of striking another officer in a cross-fire, thus limiting the opportunities to use his firearm. As a result of all of these factors, Officer DeMonte was in fear of his physical safety, the safety of other police officers on scene and civilians that might be in the area.

Jane Davis

Ms. Davis provided a written statement to Connecticut State Police on November 23, 2007. The following information is taken from this statement.

Ms. Davis lived in Wethersfield and her residence on Church Street faced the Silas Deane Highway. At approximately 12:15 a.m. on the morning of November 6, 2007, her niece, Heather Kennedy, and she were awake in the apartment when they heard what sounded like gunshots. Her niece and she looked out the window of the residence and saw police cars moving about with lights flashing. The two women heard police commands "drop your weapon", two or three times, loud and clear. The niece then heard another shot and five or six additional commands, broadcast over a loud speaker, to "drop your weapon". Then the niece heard two or three shots more and then silence. Ms. Davis said the entire incident lasted five or six minutes. Both women, who were inside the residence with doors and windows closed, heard the commands to drop the weapon very loud and clear.

David Santoro

Mr. Santoro provided a written statement to the Wethersfield Police on November 9, 2007. The following information is taken from this statement.

Mr. Santoro lives on Church Street, Wethersfield. Sometime between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on November 6, 2007, Mr. Santoro, while preparing to go to bed, heard at least five popping sounds, that sounded like gunshots. He heard a siren, which caused him to open his front door and look toward the Silas Deane Highway. He saw two police vehicles with flashing lights at the intersection. An officer on the public address system in the vehicle ordered somebody to "drop the gun", and "put it down". He then returned to his bedroom to put on his shoes. While in his bedroom he heard a pop. Thereafter he walked toward the Silas Deane Highway and observed an ambulance arrive. He then returned home.

Hartford Shooting

On the morning of November 6, 2006, at approximately 12:03 a.m. the Hartford Police Department received a 911 call from 47 Bolton Street, 2nd Floor, of a report of a person having been shot at that location. Hartford Police units arrived at that location shortly thereafter and found Lorna Coley dead, with a gunshot wound to the head.

Jahmesha Shani Williams, the mother of Mr. Chapdelaine’s child, gave a written statement to the police reporting that Mr. Chapdelaine had entered her apartment with a handgun by breaking the glass of a slider door. He then fired two shots at her, missing her. He then pointed the gun at Ms. Williams’ mother, Ms. Coley, and pulled the trigger three times. The first two times the gun jammed and no bullet was discharged. On the third pull of the trigger the gun fired and Ms. Coley was shot. Mr. Chapdelaine then left.

Hyacinth Tingling, who was also present at the time Ms. Coley was shot, also gave a written statement to the police. In her statement she told police that Mr. Chapdelaine first fired his handgun while outside the apartment, shattering the slider door glass. He then fired a shot at Ms. Williams and missed. He then fired a shot at Ms. Coley and missed. Mr. Chapdelaine then attempted to fire the gun again but it would not fire. Mr. Chapdelaine continued to attempt to fire the gun and he succeeded in firing the gun in the direction of Ms. Tingling, but missed. Mr. Chapdelaine then walked up to Ms. Coley, put the gun to her head and shot her. Mr. Chapdelaine then ran out of the house, with blood all over him.

The Hartford Police processed the crime scene at 47 Bolton Street and thereafter produced a police report detailing their observations and conclusions. The Hartford Police found a copper jacketed projectile in a bottle of household cleaner within the main bedroom of the apartment. Based on physical evidence at the scene, the Hartford investigators concluded that this projectile was fired from the outside of the residence through the slider door, shattering the glass, and then went through a bedroom door. A second round was believed to have struck a sofa inside the apartment, then traveled through a bedroom wall, exiting outside the apartment. This round was not recovered. During the autopsy of the body of Ms. Coley, a third bullet was recovered.

Autopsy

An autopsy of the body of Gerard Chapdelaine was performed by Dr. H. Wayne Carver, Chief Medical Examiner, at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, on November 6, 2007. Dr. Carver, after completion of the autopsy, wrote a report detailing the autopsy and his findings.

Dr. Carver noted in his autopsy report that he found a gunshot wound to the right chest, four inches below the right nipple. The bullet, upon entry, traveled through the body, front to back and right to left. It caused damage to the liver and right adrenal gland. The wound track ended in the erector spinae muscle of the left side of the back, where a deformed, small caliber copper jacketed projectile was recovered. It was inscribed, W-678.

A second gunshot wound was found in the upper left arm of the decedent. The bullet passed from the posterior medial aspect of the arm to the lateral aspect of the arm, causing a highly unstable fracture of the humerus, and then exited the body. Multiple irregular metal fragments were revealed through x-ray. The largest of the fragments was inscribed, W-679.

A third wound was observed on the left thigh of Mr. Chapdelaine. This wound demonstrated hemorrhaging within the subcutaneous fat but did not extend to the fascia or into the musculature. A specimen x-ray revealed no metal dense fragments. A fourth wound was noted on the posterior aspect of the right calf of Mr. Chapdelaine. It is described as a secondary missile injury which caused hemorrhaging within the subcutaneous fat but did not extend to the fascia or into the musculature. A horizontal subcutaneous wound track ended in an irregular abrasion on the posterior lateral aspect of the leg. Again, a specimen x-ray revealed no metal dense fragments.

Dr. Carver concluded that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds. The manner of death was homicide. A toxicological report of blood taken from the body of Mr. Chapdelaine showed that alcohol was detected with a concentration of .11%.

Forensic Testing

The State Police Forensic Laboratory was asked to examine certain evidence seized in connection with this investigation and perform appropriate tests. The following is a summary of the tests and test findings:

1. The criminalistics section of the lab examined the Atomic absorption kit taken from Gerard Chapdelaine. The instrumental analysis detected the presence of the element lead on the sample labeled, "left palm". The instrumental analysis failed to detect the presence of lead, barium or antimony on the samples marked: "left back", "right palm", and "right back".

2. The firearms section of the lab examined the "Ruger" Blackhawk .357 revolver, which was seized at the scene. The cylinder of this revolver was examined and four Remington fired cartridge cases, .357 caliber magnum, were removed from this cylinder. These cartridge cases were found to have multiple indentations on the primer and brass. These indentations were consistent with additional strikes from the firing pin. These four cartridge cases had been fired from the "Ruger" revolver. This weapon was test fired without malfunction and was thus determined to be operable.

3. The firearms section of the lab also examined four Winchester fired cartridges cases, .40 caliber Smith and Wesson, which had been seized from the roadway of the Silas Deane Highway. Each of these four cartridge cases were found to have been fired in the Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun which was seized from Officer Ronald Floyd.

4. The firearms section of the lab examined a bullet fragment seized from the driveway of "Bellezza Salon & Spa". Upon examination the lab concluded that this bullet fragment had class characteristics consistent with the test specimens obtained from the Glock handgun seized from Officer Floyd. The bullet fragment lack individual characteristics markings necessary for a positive identification.

5. The firearms section of the lab examined a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson fragmented bullet seized from the clothing of Mr. Chapdelaine at Hartford Hospital. Upon examination the lab concluded that this bullet fragment had class characteristics consistent with the test specimens obtained from the Glock handgun seized from Officer Floyd. The bullet fragment lack individual characteristics markings necessary for a positive identification.

6. The firearms section of the lab examined a Winchester fired cartridge case, .223 caliber Remington which was seized from the Silas Deane Highway. This cartridge case was found to have similar class characteristics as the test specimens fired from the Colt M-4 carbine rifle seized from Officer Anthony DeMonte. It lacked the individual characteristic markings necessary for a positive identification.

7. The firearms section of the lab examined a .223 caliber Remington fragmented bullet which was removed from the body of Mr. Chapdelaine by Dr. Carver during the autopsy and labeled W-678. Upon examination the lab concluded that this bullet was fired from the Colt M4 carbine rifle seized from Officer Anthony DeMonte.

8. The firearms section of the lab examined two bullet fragments and one lead fragment, seized from the body of Mr. Chapdelaine by Dr. Carver during the autopsy. These items could not be further identified.

9. The firearms section of the lab examined two .357 caliber magnum bullets obtained by the Hartford Police Department during their investigation of the homicide at 47 Bolton Street. One bullet was found in a bottle of household cleaner in the main bedroom. The second bullet was recovered from the body of Ms. Coley during the autopsy. Upon examination the lab concluded that both bullets had similar class characteristics as the test specimens obtained from the "Ruger" handgun seized from the Wethersfield scene. Each bullet lacked sufficient individual characteristic markings for a positive identification.

10. The firearms section of the lab examined a Remington cartridge, .357 caliber magnum, which was found at 48 McMullen Avenue. This cartridge had two small indentations on the brass. This is the same type of ammunition as the fired cartridge cases found in the cylinder of the "Ruger" handgun.

APPLICABLE WETHERSFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT POLICIES AND DIRECTIVES

The Wethersfield Police Department has a written directive concerning the use of deadly force. It states that an officer is justified in using deadly physical force only when the officer reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend the officer or a third person from the use of, or imminent use of, deadly physical force. The directive also states that where feasible the officer should give verbal warning of intent to use deadly physical force.

APPLICABLE LAW REGARDING THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE BY POLICE OFFICERS

Section 53a-22(c) of the General Statutes permits a police officer to use deadly physical force upon another person when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force. The test to determine reasonableness is both subjective and objective. First, the officer must believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to defend himself or another from the imminent use of deadly physical force. Second, that belief must be objectively reasonable. See State v. Smith 73 Conn. App. 173, cert. den. 262 Conn. 923 (2002).

The test is not whether it was in fact necessary for the officer to use deadly physical force in order to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force. The test is whether the officer believed it was necessary to use deadly physical force and whether such belief was objectively reasonable, based on the facts and circumstances known to the police officer at the time the decision to use deadly force was made. See State v. Silveira 198 Conn. 454 (1986), State v. Adams 52 Conn. App. 643 (1999).

The United States Supreme Court has explained this test in a civil rights case.

"The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight...The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance of the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving---about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation." Graham v. Connor 490 U.S. 386 (1989).

FINDINGS OF FACT

Based on a review of the investigation the undersigned makes the following findings of fact:

At about midnight on November 6, 2007 Gerard Chapdelaine was outside 47 Bolton Street, Hartford, the residence of Lorna Coley and her daughter, Jahmesha Shani Williams. Armed with a "Ruger" Blackhawk .357 revolver, Mr. Chapdelaine shot out the glass in a sliding door and gained entry into the apartment. He began to terrorize the three occupants by firing his handgun. While inside the apartment, Mr. Chapdelaine experienced a malfunction with the gun, as he pulled the trigger several times without the gun discharging. He was quickly able to get the gun operational and shot Ms. Coley in the head, killing her. In total, Mr. Chapdelaine, while at this residence, fired three or four bullets.

After leaving 47 Bolton Street, Mr. Chapdelaine began to walk southbound toward the town of Wethersfield. He walked into the Food Bag Convenience Store, located at 384 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield at approximately 12:25 a.m. and purchased a pack of cigarettes. The distance between the Coley residence and the Food Bag is approximately 1.15 miles. The attendant at the Food Bag noticed blood, likely that of Ms. Coley, on the face and hands of Mr. Chapdelaine. He became concerned because Mr. Chapdelaine’s explanation for the blood, that he had punched out a window, was inconsistent with the attendant’s observation of no cuts visible on Mr. Chapdelaine. As a result, after Mr. Chapdelaine left the premises and started to walk south on the Silas Deane Highway, the attendant called the Wethersfield Police to report his observations. The dispatcher, upon receiving the information from the attendant, transmitted the information over the police radio and sent Officers Floyd and DeMonte to investigate the matter.

At the time that this radio transmission was sent, Officer Floyd was in his cruiser at the intersection of Church Street and Main Street, talking to Officer Wren. Upon receipt of this transmission, both officers began to drive their respective vehicles toward the Silas Deane Highway, with Officer Floyd in the lead. Turning onto the Silas Deane Highway, Officer Floyd saw Mr. Chapdelaine and recognized him as likely being the person described by the Food Bag attendant. Officer Floyd stopped his vehicle and shined his spotlight on Mr. Chapdelaine. Mr. Chapdelaine uttered an obscenity and pulled out of his waistband a revolver. Officer Floyd, seeing the gun, reported that fact over the radio and drove north on the Silas Deane Highway, stopping in the middle of the roadway. Officer Wren, arriving at the scene also saw Mr. Chapdelaine with a handgun and he parked his vehicle south of Mr. Chapdelaine, also on the Silas Deane Highway.

Both officers called out for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon but he did not. Instead he pointed his revolver at both officers and pulled the trigger multiple times. The gun did not discharge, apparently malfunctioning. Mr. Chapdelaine retreated to a CL&P pole, where he took cover and continued to try to fix the malfunction in his gun. Mr. Chapdelaine continued to ignore repeated calls to drop his weapon. Officer Floyd, during this time, fired a total of four shots at Mr. Chapdelaine. One of the shots fired by Officer Floyd struck Mr. Chapdelaine in the left arm, but did not incapacitate him. Bullets fired by Officer Floyd also struck the Tim Horton’s sign and the CL&P pole behind which Mr. Chapdelaine had taken cover.

Additional Wethersfield police officers arrived at the scene. Sergeant Fisher and Detective Patkoske parked their vehicles north of Mr. Chapdelaine, near the vehicle of Officer Floyd. Officer DeMonte drove his police cruiser north on the Silas Deane Highway to a location west of Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop. He observed Mr. Chapdelaine point a revolver at him, causing Officer DeMonte to quickly drive away. He parked his vehicle south of the location of Mr. Chapdelaine, near the vehicle of Officer Wren. Detective Patkoske used his public address system in his vehicle to broadcast commands for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop his weapon. The other officers on scene continued to call out demands for Mr. Chapdelaine to drop the weapon. Mr. Chapdelaine, after the arrival of these additional officers, moved from behind the telephone pole and walked on the Silas Deane Highway in the general direction of the vehicles of Officers Wren and DeMonte. As he did this he continued to point his firearm at the police and pull the trigger. Several officers heard gunshots and saw muzzle flash and concluded that Mr. Chapdelaine had fired his gun at them.

Officer DeMonte, a member of the Capital Services Emergency Team, had a rifle in the trunk of his vehicle. He removed the rifle from the trunk and prepared it for firing, if necessary, at Mr. Chapdelaine. Officer DeMonte, concerned about the danger of striking another police officer or a bystander, momentarily held his fire. When Mr. Chapdelaine moved to a location where Officer DeMonte was confident he could fire without endangering innocent life, he fired. Mr. Chapdelaine was struck by the bullet fired by Officer DeMonte and fell to the pavement. He subsequently died of these gunshot wounds.

CONCLUSION

At the time that officers of the Wethersfield Police Department encountered Mr. Chapdelaine had already taken the life of one person, Lorna Coley, with his handgun. Mr. Chapdelaine, upon seeing the police, brandished the handgun, and attempted to shoot them. Fortunately, the gun malfunctioned and did not fire. However, Mr. Chapdelaine continued to manipulate his gun, in an apparent efforts to fire the weapon at the officers. The Wethersfield Police, numerous times, demanded that Mr. Chapdelaine drop his weapon and surrender. He refused, instead continuing his attempts to fire his handgun. Even when confronted with five Wethersfield Police officers, Mr. Chapdelaine did not surrender or make efforts to retreat. Instead he moved in an offensive manner, weapon in hand, toward the police.

Based on the actions of Mr. Chapdelaine, the Wethersfield Police were justified in concluding that Mr. Chapdelaine was intent on causing them great bodily harm. While the handgun of Mr. Chapdelaine was malfunctioning, for the police to conclude that he could not get the handgun operational and fire would have exposed them to a significant risk of being shot. An illustration of this risk is that Mr. Chapdelaine apparently was having a similar problem with the gun malfunctioning just prior to shooting Ms. Coley. Several officers concluded that in fact Mr. Chapdelaine did succeed in getting the gun to fire and had fired two shots at them. The forensic evidence does not provide an answer as to whether in fact Mr. Chapdelaine did fire his handgun at the police. With Mr. Chapdelaine repeatedly pointing the gun at police officers and pulling the trigger, the only reasonable conclusion for the police on scene to make would be that Mr. Chapdelaine had the intent and capability of shooting them. It was reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances, for the police to conclude that Mr. Chapdelaine posed a grave and imminent threat to their physical safety.

Given the totality of these circumstances, it was reasonable for Officer DeMonte, at the moment he fired his rifle, to believe that Mr. Chapdelaine was using or about to use deadly physical force. To protect himself and other police officers from this threat, Officer DeMonte was justified in using deadly physical force.

No further action will be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice.

Scott J. Murphy
State’s Attorney



Content Last Modified on 4/11/2008 2:59:44 PM