HARTFORD – State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor today released his report on the March 9 use of deadly force by Waterbury police officer James McMahon against Ra’Shamel Rogers. While Rogers survived, Lawlor retained jurisdiction over the investigation into the incident. The following is a reaction from David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut:
“When the laws to hold police accountable to communities are no longer working, it is time for new laws. This incident and today’s report are the latest evidence that Connecticut needs statewide police reform.
The state’s attorney’s report leaves many unanswered questions about what happened when Waterbury police officer James McMahon shot Ra’Shamel Rogers. In the interest of transparency and public understanding, we call on prosecutors to immediately release the enhanced video footage of this entire incident. We call on the Waterbury Police Department to improve public safety and transparency by immediately adopting a mandatory body camera and dashboard camera program for all officers, with robust policies in place to protect civil liberties and the public interest. We encourage police departments statewide to advance public and police officer safety by restricting police car chases and prohibiting police from shooting at occupied vehicles, as other police departments have done throughout the country.
The public still does not know whether James McMahon was struck by the car that Ra’Shamel Rogers drove, whether McMahon’s shots caused Rogers to lose control of the vehicle, or whether Rogers was offered the opportunity to have legal representation present when he spoke with police at the hospital. The few clear facts of this case demonstrate serious flaws in police training and policies, including a lack of training to avoid pursuing and approaching cars in ways that jeopardize police and bystanders’ safety.
Connecticut must dismantle barriers to police accountability by adopting independent oversight of police. Too many families have suffered losses and violence at the hands of police in Connecticut, only to be failed by our justice system in their quests for answers and accountability. This year alone, we have seen the Rogers family struggle for answers in Waterbury and the Bridgeport community fight for transparency while grieving 15-year-old Jayson Negron’s death at the hands of police. This summer, after a three-year wait, Jose Maldonado’s family saw prosecutors decline to seek justice in their loved one’s death at the hands of East Hartford police.
We will continue to work toward a future in which police accountability, transparency, and independent oversight are the norm and the public can have confidence in justice.”
Connecticut does not keep track of how many people are injured or die after encounters with police. Reporting from the Washington Post shows that at least nine people have died after being shot by police in Connecticut since 2015. Most recently, police in Bridgeport fatally shot and killed 15-year-old Jayson Negron; the state’s attorney has not yet released its preliminary investigative report in that case.