Dash-cam footage was released Friday showing the officer-involved shooting death of an 18-year-old Connecticut resident.
State officials released the footage of last month’s shooting that shows the pursuit of the car driven by Anthony “Chulo” Vega-Cruz and his girlfriend.
After the car slides off the road, in an apparent attempt to escape officers, Vega-Cruz can be seen driving the car at a Wethersfield unit. That’s when Officer Layau Eulizier Jr. fired his gun.
Vega-Cruz was promptly taken to the hospital, but eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Reports say that the teen was shot in the temple.
The family’s attorney released a statement condemning Eulizier’s actions.
“This officer acted recklessly when he murdered Chulo, an unarmed teenager with his girlfriend, during a traffic stop. We are devastated, enraged, and continue to demand justice for their son and brother. The video tells the story, and now, the officer must pay for his actions. We urge the State’s Attorney to bring swift justice for this hurting family and criminally charge the officer who killed Chulo.”
Both officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
Wethersfield Mayor Amy Morrin Bello said “We are grateful to the Hartford State’s Attorney for promptly releasing the video evidence. This was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the family of Anthony Vega Cruz. The three videos may be disturbing to some as they show the danger of the events as they unfolded on April 20th. This is a danger that our police officers face every day in the line of duty. We must be patient and allow the process to continue and wait to see the investigation through to completion.”
Family members gathered in protest following the shooting, asking why the officer used their gun instead of something non-lethal, like stop-sticks.
Anthony “Chulo” Vega’s family and Wethersfield residents are asking for answers about what happened to their loved one. The people deserve answers from police, prosecutors, and town and state elected officials. #JusticeForChulo pic.twitter.com/eXRvCRgE6e
— ACLU of Connecticut (@acluct) April 22, 2019
Believing the car may be stolen, officers pursued the car, attempting to make a traffic stop. Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran said that there was a collision between the suspect’s vehicle and the cruiser. As one of the officers exited his squad car, that’s when Cruz accelerated.
The passenger was not injured.
Cruz was transported to Hartford Hospital and remained in critical condition for 3 days. He passed away from his injuries, NBC Connecticut reported.
His family is protesting the officer’s actions, saying that it was an excessive use of force against the teen.
Protestors are starting to gather in front of the Wethersfield Police Department demanding answers in response to the officer involved shooting of Anthony Vega Cruz. @FOX61News pic.twitter.com/t490L7OaWp
— Zinnia Maldonado (@ZinniaDee_TV) April 22, 2019
“They got the little strikes they put in the front that pops tires, why not use them, why does it have to be the guns?” Myran Alicia said.
Her statement completely ignores the timing and pace of the incident. Stop sticks are deployed across a roadway during a pursuit, blowing out the tires of a vehicle and bringing it to a stop. They’re not to be casually tossed out while a car is driving directly at someone.
Even if it were possible to have stopped Cruz by puncturing his tires, (which does not work at slow speeds…) there would have been no time to retrieve the tool from the vehicle. Her argument is completely invalid.
Cruz’s brother also spoke out. “We’re basically looking for justice, you know what I mean, because my little brother got shot in the head,” Anthony Colon said.
Anthony Colon lights candles at the vigil for his brother Anthony Jose Vega “Chulo” Cruz, 18, who has died.
Cruz had been on life support since Saturday after being shot by a Wethersfield police officer. pic.twitter.com/MvBr0hCMrA
— Ryan Lindsay (@RLindsayReports) April 23, 2019
Other LEOs stepped up to defend the actions made my Wethersfield Police.
“Our officers have to make split second sections and if they do fear for their safety, then they’ll have to take those measures as far as to protect themselves or others,” said Sgt. Dwight Washington.
“This was a very serious incident that occurred in our community. The Wethersfield police department has turned the investigation over to the state police for a thorough inquiry,” Wethersfield mayor Amy Morrin Bello said in a statement.