Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane has postponed his retirement by 30 days, upon a request from the Criminal Justice Commission to complete a report about Hartford Judicial District State’s Attorney Gail Hardy’s docket of unresolved cases of killings by police.
During Kane’s tenure as Chief State’s Attorney, a role that oversees prosecutors’ investigations into and decisions about police uses of force, Hardy has left open five cases of deadly shootings by police – one assigned to her in April by Kane himself, and four that were automatically under her jurisdiction according to previous state law. The open cases on Hardy’s docket are the police killings of: Anthony Jose “Chulo” Vega Cruz in April 2019, Joseph Bak in 2008, Taurean Wilson in 2009, Edmanuel Reyes in 2011, and Ernesto Morales in 2012. A Hartford Courant review also found that Hardy took, on average, longer than other state’s attorneys to close cases of killings by police.
The following is a reaction from ACLU of Connecticut executive director David McGuire:
“Prosecutors should actively use their roles to hold police accountable to the people they are supposed to serve. It is unconscionable that families have been waiting for years, and in some cases more than a decade, for prosecutors to decide whether they will try to hold police accountable for killing their loved ones.
State’s Attorney Hardy’s lack of action in killings by police is inexcusable, and Chief State’s Attorney Kane’s failure to hold her accountable for her inaction has been completely irresponsible. Both problems show the need for a new Chief State’s Attorney who will dedicate themselves to police accountability. As this situation shows, Connecticut still needs a new Chief State’s Attorney who will vocally, actively pursue policies, procedures, and laws to hold police accountable.
It is completely unacceptable that Kane decided to assign Hardy to the case of Anthony Jose “Chulo” Vega’s death while four additional cases of killings by police languished on her docket, and the problem is much deeper than a faulty tracking system. Any report regarding Hardy’s inaction should also include a complete description of how the Division of Criminal Justice, under Kane’s watch, allowed these cases to go unresolved, so the Criminal Justice Commission and Connecticut’s next Chief State’s Attorney are able to take swift, thorough action to hold prosecutors accountable for their roles in pursuing justice for people killed and harmed by police.”
Beginning in 2015, Connecticut law has required the Chief State’s Attorney to select and assign an out-of-district prosecutor to investigate every time police shoot and kill someone. As of October 1, 2019, Connecticut law also requires the Chief State’s Attorney to select and assign an out-of-district prosecutor to investigate every time police use deadly force, including when police use deadly force but do not kill someone. Prior to 2015, state’s attorneys were responsible for investigating killings by police that occurred in their judicial districts.