Since April 16, police in Connecticut have shot at four young Black and Latino drivers and passengers, killing one, severely injuring another, and endangering the lives of two others. Today, Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy released some dashboard camera footage of Wethersfield Police Department employee Layau Eulizier, Jr. shooting and killing 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz, known as "Chulo."
Members of his family, Wethersfield residents, and Moral Monday CT have held rallies and protests calling for individual accountability for Eulizier, and for police accountability and transparency overall.
David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, had the following reaction to today’s release of some dashboard camera footage:
“Anthony Vega should still be alive today. There is no reason why police needed to escalate a traffic stop over a license plate problem into executing an 18-year-old boy. Police violence against people of color in Connecticut is a pandemic. It is long past time for every town and state elected official across Connecticut to take democratic control over police to stop police violence.
How many more people have to die or be hurt by out of control police employees before Connecticut starts holding police accountable to democratic checks and balances?
We join members of the Wethersfield community, Moral Monday CT, and members of Anthony Vega’s family in demanding justice for Chulo and accountability for the Wethersfield Police Department’s employees. We are outraged by Anthony Vega’s death at the hands of Wethersfield police, by the callous stonewalling from many town and state elected officials who have the power to ensure justice, and by the unnecessary delay in the release of this dashboard camera footage. We further call on the Connecticut General Assembly to pass a statewide law to rein in and track the numbers of incidents of police violence in our state, and to take additional action this year and next to stop police violence.
For years, Wethersfield’s police department has been operating dangerously, and the town’s police employees have long engaged in the suburban version of stop and frisk against Black and Latino drivers and people near the town’s border with Hartford. The Wethersfield Town Manager and Town Council have the power to stop police violence in Wethersfield and to hold Layau Eulizier and the other police employees in this video accountable for Anthony Vega’s death.”
Connecticut does not require the state to collect or report the number of times that police hurt or kill people in the state, so the public and policymakers must rely on news reports to attempt to track those numbers. According to news reports, since 2013, police in Connecticut have shot and killed at least 24 people. Since 2005, at least 18 people have died after being tased by police in Connecticut. In 2017, at least six people died in Connecticut, including a three-year-old boy, after police decided to chase people with their vehicles. This was an increase from previous years.
The Wethersfield Police Department is the only police agency in Connecticut that has been cited every year by the state for disproportionately stopping Black and Latino drivers. State data shows that Wethersfield police employees also disproportionately stops motorists along the town’s border with Hartford, and stop drivers near the Hartford border for equipment or paperwork violations – stops that have historically been linked to pretext enforcement – at a much higher rate. Anthony Vega, a young Latino man, was stopped by Wethersfield police employees on Silas Deane Highway, at a location near the Hartford border.
For additional information about Wethersfield: https://www.acluct.org/en/news/justiceforchulo