A civil rights complaint filed against former Hartford police detective Robert Lawlor, who shot and killed a teenager and wounded a 21-year-old while on duty in 2005, has been dismissed, according to a letter he received from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Lawlor, a retired 18-year veteran of the police department, shot and killed 18-year-old Jashon Bryant in the North End of Hartford when an undercover sting operation went awry in May of 2005.
He was found not guilty of manslaughter in a 2009 court decision, but a federal investigation was launched to look into Lawlor’s conduct and determine whether he was justified in pulling the trigger. The case was thrown out Friday.
According to the letter from U.S. Department of Justice Section Chief Robert J. Moossy, Jr., investigators found that “the evidence does not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal rights statutes” and the justice department is closing the investigation.
Hartford police spokesman Lt. Brian Foley said the HPD Firearms Review Board continues to investigate through the Firearms Review Board process.
“The incident is a sad and tragic circumstance,” Foley said. “The department hopes that all those involved, as well as the community, can continue in the healing process.”
Lawlor’s attorney, Michael Georgetti, expressed gratitude and relief at the decision.
"Both Bob Lawlor and I are very pleased that the justice department has finally completed their investigation,” said Lawlor’s attorney, Michael Georgetti. “It's hard to imagine that it took this long but I think that closure of this matter once and for all will be very good for Bob Lawlor, and also for the family of the young man that was killed some eight years ago. And I hope all of them everybody in this matter can put this all behind them and move on."
Lawlor said in court in 2009 that the incident unfolded after Bryant got into a car holding a gun and the driver sped off toward an FBI agent. Lawlor fired and Bryant was killed. No gun was found.
The NAACP sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting a federal investigation after Lawlor was acquitted by an all-white jury.
Bryant’s family said they’re still devastated and haven’t been able to find peace.