Hartford State’s Attorney

Prosecutor Suspended for Inaction on Police Shooting Probes

crime scene tape up at a police-involved shooting in Hartford
NBC Connecticut

A top prosecutor is being suspended over yearslong delays on investigations into four fatal shootings by police officers, a Connecticut justice panel decided Thursday in a unanimous and apparently unprecedented move.

It was only in December that Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy announced she had determined all four shootings, in cases dating as far back as 2008, were justified, following reports by The Hartford Courant that the investigations had not been completed.

Hardy, Connecticut’s first African American state’s attorney, agreed Wednesday to the suspension of four days without pay, said State Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald, chairman of the state Criminal Justice Commission — the first known suspension of a state’s attorney.

“This is a difficult day for all of us because we know that State’s Attorney Hardy has been serving the state of Connecticut for a long period of time and has done so with great dedication on her part,” McDonald said. “That does not address, however, the serious dereliction in duty for her inexcusable delay in submitting these reports.”

The Associated Press left messages seeking comment for Hardy on Thursday.

The four reports in question involved the deaths of Ernesto Morales in Hartford on July 11, 2012; Edmanuel Reyes in Manchester on May 19, 2011; Taurean Wilson in East Hartford on Jan. 1, 2009; and Joseph Bak in Hartford on March 3, 2008.

Hardy’s eight-year term expires at the end of this month, and the commission will start deciding next week whether to reappoint her.

The state NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut and two Hartford pastors wrote a letter to the commission that urged its members to discipline Hardy and deny her reappointment.

“Throughout her two terms, State’s Attorney Hardy has engaged in willful negligence of a portion of her duties that are important to our community,” the letter said. “State’s Attorney Hardy ... has not been held to account for her poor management of the Hartford Judicial District.”

They also accused Hardy of failing to apply state laws on hate crimes when people were victims of race-based violence.

Claudine Fox, campaign manager for the state ACLU, said the four-day suspension was not long enough.

McDonald said he knew the length of the suspension would be criticized variously as too lenient or too harsh.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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