CSAO: Report of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury Concerning the Use of Deadly Force upon Robert Miessau on February 21, 2006, in the City of Waterbury.

Report of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury Concerning the Use of Deadly Force upon Robert Miessau on February 21, 2006, in the City of Waterbury.

Preface | Synopsis of the Incident | Overview of the Investigation | Circumstances of the Incident | Evidence Seized and Forensic Findings | Cause of Death and Related Findings | Applicable Law | Conclusion

Preface

This report is being made in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) Section 51-277a, Division of Criminal Justice Administrative Policies and Procedures Policy Number 00-01 and the protocol promulgated pursuant to said policy and procedure.

This report is being filed with the Chief State’s Attorney as required under Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-277a(c).

An investigation of the use of deadly physical force by Officer Daniel Dougherty, a member of the Waterbury Police Department, upon Robert Miessau, date of birth August 28, 1959, was conducted by members of the State’s Attorney’s Office for the Judicial District of Waterbury with the assistance of the Waterbury Police Department, the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crime Squad, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The use of deadly physical force occurred on February 21, 2006 at or near 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, Connecticut.

Synopsis of the Incident

The Waterbury Police Department received a 911 call on February 20, 2006 at approximately 11:04 p.m. regarding a possible suicide at 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, Connecticut.

Waterbury patrol officers responded to the scene and were met by Christine Boodoo who informed the officers that her father, Robert Miessau, had made phone calls from the house at 106 Hillview Avenue, threatening suicide which caused her and her mother, Wanda Miessau, to go to the house at 106 Hillview Avenue.

Robert Miessau fired gunshots which blew out a window of the home and caused Ms. Boodoo to believe her father shot himself.

Waterbury police officers established phone contact with Robert Miessau, called in hostage negotiators and alerted the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to respond.

Robert Miessau began to verbally threaten to shoot at the police and other neighbors and, over the course of the next three hours, he fired a number of shots from at least two different weapons, in the direction of the police.

The police continued to try and talk to Robert Miessau by telephone without success.

The ERT officers established a perimeter around 106 Hillview Avenue, including snipers. One sniper team composed of Officers Michael Dethlefsen and Daniel Dougherty, took up a position with a clear view of the front of the house at 106 Hillview Avenue. While the team was taking up their position, Robert Miessau fired a shot in their direction.

While attempts to safeguard civilians were taking place, as well as plans to try to gain access to the house were being developed, Robert Miessau came out of the residence armed with a long rifle. He shouldered the weapon and fired a shot towards the police perimeter. Miessau then continued to aim his gun at the police perimeter. Officer Daniel Dougherty, fearing for other persons safety, fired one shot, killing Robert Miessau.

Overview of the Investigation

On Tuesday, February 21, 2006, at approximately 2:15 a.m., in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-277a and Division of Criminal Justice Administrative Policies and Procedures, Policy 00-01, the Waterbury Police Department notified me of the use of deadly force by Officer Daniel Dougherty. Shortly thereafter, I responded to 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, CT and implemented the protocol mandated by Policy Number 00-01. The investigation into the use of deadly physical force by Officer Daniel Dougherty was conducted by Supervisory Inspector James Deeley and Inspector Joseph Forte of the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the Waterbury Police Department Detective Bureau, Patrol Division and the Emergency Response Team as well as the Connecticut State Police, Western District Major Crime Squad and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Circumstances of the Incident

On Monday, February 20, 2006, at approximately 11:04 p.m., Lavaughn Sanderson of 95 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, Connecticut called the Waterbury Police Department 911 line to report a possible suicide.

Mr. Sanderson related to the operator that a woman, identified as Christina Boodoo, had come to his home asking that he call the police. Ms. Boodoo was fearful that her father, Robert Miessau, who lived at 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, CT, had just shot himself. Ms. Boodoo subsequently detailed in a two-page written statement to Det. Richard Baxter of the Waterbury Police Department that at about 10:40 p.m. on February 20, 2006, she received a phone call from a family friend, Mary Hoyt. Ms. Hoyt informed Ms. Boodoo that her father, Robert Miessau, had just called her and told her that he, Mr. Miessau had a loaded shotgun and threatened to kill himself.

Ms. Boodoo contacted her mother, Wanda Miessau, and they both went to 106 Hillview Avenue and knocked on the door.

Robert Miessau told Ms. Boodoo and Ms. Miessau to go away, several times, and then proceeded to fire two shots from a gun, one of which blew out a window of 106 Hillview Avenue.

While Ms. Boodoo and Ms. Miessau were at the front door knocking, Robert Miessau called Mary Hoyt to ask if she called the police. Mr. Miessau left the phone line open and Ms. Hoyt heard Mr. Miessau tell the people at the door to go away, and she then heard two gunshots.

The Waterbury Police Department responded to the call as a possible suicide.

The first officers on the scene were Officer David McKnight and Sergeant David Sheehan. They spoke with Ms. Boodoo and learned that Mr. Miessau had a history of psychiatric trouble, owned at least one gun and had previously tried to kill himself. The officers then cautiously approached 106 Hillview Avenue. They observed a window that had been damaged and heard a male voice coming from inside. The officers then retreated from the house and called Robert Miessau’s cell phone number, which was provided by Ms. Boodoo.

Once telephone contact with Mr. Miessau was established, he told Officer McKnight that he would shoot anyone who approached the house. A short time later Mr. Miessau called Officer McKnight back and told him that he could see police near the house and that he would shoot them if they did not back off. Mr. Miessau also told Officer McKnight that he had "a splatter gun and a long gun that shoots straight." He further stated "I’ll shoot police cars and anyone in them."

At this point in time, the Waterbury Police had established a perimeter by restricting motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area and established a command center.

The Waterbury Police Department sent a hostage negotiator to the scene at approximately 11:10 p.m., who, once briefed, established telephone contact with Robert Miessau. The negotiators maintained intermittent telephone contact with Miessau throughout the three-hour incident.

The Waterbury Police Department Emergency Response Team (ERT) was alerted at approximately 11:20 p.m. and, once assembled, responded to 106 Hillview Avenue.

The ERT unit responded after several shots had been fired from the house at 106 Hillview Avenue. The unit had two sniper teams which set up at two different locations. Team One, composed of Officer Michael Dethlefsen and Officer Daniel Dougherty deployed to an area north of 106 Hillview Avenue, which afforded a view of the front and north side of the dwelling. Team Two, composed of Officer Viera and Officer Struber, deployed to the south, having a view of the rear and south side of the dwelling.

Other members of the ERT unit tried to survey the dwelling and were informed by Team One (Dethlefsen/Dougherty) that they were fired upon from the suspect house. The Team also relayed that pellets from the shot went through the trees over their heads.

Team One then retreated to 98 Hotchkiss Street and set up on the first floor, rear porch of that residence. This maintained Team One’s ability to see the front and north side of 106 Hillview Avenue.

During the time that the ERT unit was deploying and while on scene, at least five shots were fired from 106 Hillview Avenue beyond the originally reported two gunshots.

During this period of time, the police contacted the surrounding residences of 106 Hillview Avenue in an attempt to evacuate neighbors or to have them stay in their basements.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, February 21, 2006, Robert Miessau exited the front door of 106 Hillview Avenue with a long gun. Miessau shouldered the weapon and fired a shot in the direction of the police perimeter. Officer Dougherty observed this from his position at the rear porch of 98 Hotchkiss Street.

Officer Dougherty continued to observe Robert Miessau aiming the long gun at the police perimeter. Officer Dougherty, fearing for the safety of the police on the perimeter, fired one shot, striking Miessau.

Once Officer Dougherty fired the single shot, the ERT unit utilized a flash bang and a smoke grenade to see if gun fire would be received out of 106 Hillview Avenue, and entry could be made.

The ERT entry team approached 106 Hillview Avenue and used a second flash bang inside the dwelling and made entry.

Once inside, the ERT entry team found Robert Miessau on the floor by the doorway with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. Also located was a rifle by Miessau’s side and a shotgun on the couch. The floor was also littered with spent shotgun shells and there were live shotgun rounds on a nearby table. A subsequent inventory of Robert Miessau’s pockets revealed seven (7) twelve gauge shotgun shells in his left, front, pants pocket and six (6) 12 gauge shotgun shells in his right, front, pants pocket.

Evidence Seized and Forensic Findings

The Connecticut State Police, Western District Major Crime Squad, responded to 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury, Connecticut on February 21, 2006 to process the scene. The following relevant evidence was collected and tested:

  1. Remington Winchester Rifle, D6844844, Model 700, .308 caliber, with scope, three rounds and a magazine.
  2. One Federal fired cartridge case, caliber, .308 Winchester.
  3. One lead fragment, weighing 63.5 grams.
  4. One Remington fired shot shell, 12 gauge.
  5. One Savage semi automatic rifle, Model 6A, caliber .22 long rifle, no serial number.
  6. One Winchester fired cartridge case, caliber .22 long rifle.
  7. One Remington fired shot shell, 12 gauge.
  8. One Winchester fired cartridge case, caliber .22 long rifle.
  9. One Winchester fired cartridge case, caliber .22 long rifle.
  10. One Winchester fired cartridge case, caliber .22 long rifle.
  11. Mossberg bolt-action shotgun, Model 395KA, 12 gauge, no serial number.
  12. One Remington fired shot shell, 12 gauge.
  13. One caliber .30 bullet jacket and one bullet jacket fragment, total weight 31.0 grams. [Collected at time of autopsy]

Results

The Remington Winchester Rifle, Model 700, .308 caliber, #1, was the weapon in the possession of, and used by, Officer Daniel Dougherty. That weapon was fired one time and #2 is the cartridge case which resulted from the single shot fired by Officer Dougherty.

The Connecticut State Police recovered two weapons from the house at 106 Hillview Avenue, Waterbury Connecticut:

(a) #5, one Savage semi-automatic rifle, Model 6A, caliber .22 long rifle, and

(b) #11, one Mossberg bolt-action shotgun, Model 395KA, 12 gauge.

These were located in close proximity to Robert Miessau’s body. Both of these weapons were operable.

The State Police also recovered seven shell casings from 106 Hillview Avenue, in close proximity to the body of Robert Miessau:

(a) Three (3) Remington fired shot shell (#4, 7 & 12), and

(b) Four (4) Winchester fired cartridge case, caliber .22 long rifle (#6, 8, 9, & 10).

The State Police further determined that #4, 7, and 12 were fired from #11, the Mossberg shotgun and #6, 8, 9, and 10 were fired from #5, the Savage, caliber .22 semi-automatic rifle.

This forensic evidence is consistent with the reports of Mary Hoyt, Christina Boodoo and the police that at least seven shots were fired from the house at 106 Hillview Avenue.

Based on evidence seized and crime scene processing, the State Police concluded:

"It appears that the victim was standing at the front door of his residence with the Savage rifle (Exhibit #15) across the front of his body, bolt side out, when he sustained a fatal wound from a member of the Waterbury Police Department Tactical Team. It appears that the round struck the victim under his right nipple area, exiting under his armpit and subsequently striking the stock end of the gun. The lead bullet fragment found and seized on the floor of the living room is consistent with being the bullet that struck the victim and the rifle."

Cause of Death and Related Findings

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was notified of Robert Miessau’s death. Doctor Ira J. Kanfer, Associate Medical Examiner for the State of Connecticut performed the autopsy on Mr. Miessau on February 22, 2006. One bullet was recovered from the body of Robert Miessau and it was turned over to Detective Donald Elmendorf of the Connecticut State Police - Western District Major Crime Unit. Dr. Kanfer certified the cause of death of Mr. Robert Miessau as gunshot wound of the chest and the manner of death as a homicide.

The deceased was shot in the left side of the chest, evidenced by an entry type wound. There is an exit type wound on the right side of the chest and it appears that the bullet, upon exiting the right side of the chest, may have struck the rifle stock.

The gunshot wound to the chest is described as follows:

Gunshot Wound A is an entry-type gunshot wound located on the left side of the chest 18" downward from the top of the head and 8" to the left of midline. It is a 1 cm. Hole surrounded by a 1 mm. Of abrasion. Associated with the entry wound is approximately 9 cm. In greatest dimension of secondary missile impacts surrounding the entry wound. Associated with the entry wound is Exit Wound B located on the right side of the chest 18" downward from the top of the head and 5: to the right of midline. It is a 2.5 cm. Hole with a bullet immediately adjacent to the hole. The bullet is a copper jacketed, large caliber bullet and a fragment is also recovered. The path of the bullet is from left to right, back to front and slightly downward. The bullet markedly disrupts the left lung and obliterates the heart. Associated with injuries are approximately 300 cc. And 400 cc. Of fluid and clotted blood in the left and right pleural cavities each respectively.

A toxicology analysis of the deceased’s blood failed to detect the presence of basic drugs or opiates, however, caffeine and alcohol were detected. The alcohol level was 0.06%

Applicable Law

Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-277a provides that:

"...the Division of Criminal Justice shall cause an investigation to be made whenever a peace officer, in the performance of his duties, uses deadly physical force upon another person and such person dies as a result thereof..."

The State’s Attorney must file a report with the Chief State’s Attorney which details: 1) the circumstances of the incident, 2) a determination of whether the use of deadly physical force by the officer was appropriate under C.G.S. Section 53a-22, and 3) any future action to be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice. C.G.S. Section 51-277a(c).

Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-22 provides, in part, that:

A peace officer...is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person ... only when he reasonably believed that such force is necessary to (1) defend himself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.

Our courts have interpreted this statute to mean that first, the officer must believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to defend himself or another from imminent use of deadly physical force and second, that belief must be objectively reasonable. State v. Smith, 73 Conn. App. 173, 184-85 (2002).

Conclusion

Based upon the investigation by the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the Waterbury Police Department, the Connecticut State Police Western District Crime Scene Unit and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, as well as the reports and statements of the various witnesses, the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury finds that Officer Daniel Dougherty’s actions were reasonable based upon the totality of the circumstances.

It is concluded that Officer Dougherty, based upon applicable law, was justified in using deadly physical force in the shooting death of Robert Miessau, and that he reasonably believed, as permitted by C.G.S. Section 53a-22, such force was necessary to defend others from the use of deadly physical force.

Accordingly, no further action is to be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice.

John A. Connelly

State’s Attorney

Judicial District of Waterbury



Content Last Modified on 7/15/2014 3:13:06 PM