Fatal Norwich Police Shooting Was Justified: State's Attorney

A Connecticut state’s attorney has found Norwich police justified in fatally shooting 52-year-old Michael Dugas the night of Feb. 24, 2013.

Dugas was shot six times after calling 911 to report a man with a gun on the Norwich green, then standing in the green with his hands – and a pellet gun – in his pockets, according to a report released by State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan.

The report says Dugas had a history of depression and alcohol abuse and had displayed suicidal tendencies. Autopsy results showed his BAC to be .27, more than three times the legal limit to drive.

A friend and neighbor told investigators Dugas had spent much of the day watching TV and drinking vodka at her apartment, according to the report.. Dugas left around 5:30 p.m. but returned an hour later with a cordless phone, which he used to call 911 to say a man with a gun was on the green.

After hanging up with police, Dugas walked over to the green, where he stood with his hands in his pockets, the report says. Officers arrived at the park and asked Dugas to show his hands, a request that Dugas reportedly ignored.

Dugas paced back and forth in the center of the park and told officers not to approach him, according to the report.

“Show us your hands and get on the ground. We want to help you,” the report quotes an officer as saying over the loudspeaker. “We are not here to hurt you, show us your hands and get on the ground.”

When a K-9 arrived at the scene, the officer reportedly told Dugas he had a dog and asked him to get on the ground, warning that he might otherwise be bitten. Dugas did not get down, and instead drew what looked like a revolver and pointed it at the officer, according to the report.

The report says police repeatedly asked Dugas to put down the gun and opened fire when he refused. Officers discharged 41 rounds and Dugas was struck six times. He was handcuffed and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Dugas’ revolver turned out to be a pellet gun, according to the report. There were no pellets inside, but the gun had been loaded with a carbon dioxide canister, and witnesses said they heard a “pop” before police shot Dugas.

The report concludes that “the use of deadly physical force was appropriate.”

Dugas’ family filed a lawsuit against the city and responding officers late last month, claiming police had used unreasonable, unjustified and excessive deadly force against Dugas.

Seven responding officers were placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

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