State's Attorney Finds Fatal Police Shooting of Berlin High Psychologist Justified

The State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Windham investigated that the fatal police shooting of a Berlin High School psychologist in East Hartford last year and determined that it was justified.

The report released on Tuesday details what police and witnesses said happened at the home of John Carras on Sept. 5, 2019.

Police were called to the home of around to investigate a domestic violence incident after getting a 911 call in which a woman could be heard screaming.

The report from the state’s attorney says Carras was “known as a well-respected professional and loving family man,” but was intensely jealous and that he found a text on a woman’s phone that “enraged him because it came from her colleague after school hours,” they argued and he assaulted her and she sustained serious and life-threatening injuries.

Two children were present and were found with a neighbor when police arrived.

Officer Andre Lyew arrived six minutes after the call came in to find a neighbor in the street with two children, pointing to the house.

Inside the house, the officer found Carras assaulting the woman and told him to get off of her, the report says.

When Carras did not cooperate, Lyew yelled to get off the victim or he would shoot him, the report says. Carras finally complied, raised his hands above his head and complied with commands from police.

Another officer, Officer Daniel Zaleski, responded. As he leaned down to put Carras in handcuffs, Carras jumped up and punched Zaleski several times in the face while screaming, the report says. Carras had placed Zaleski in a headlock and struggled to get his gun.

Lyew had been knocked back when Carras jumped up, and Carras’ back pressed against the muzzle of Lyew’s gun, causing it to malfunction, the report says. Lyew holstered his firearm, then drew a stun gun and Carras rushed at Officer Lyew.

The stun gun did not stop Carras and he punched Lyew and tried to throw Zaleski over the deck railing, the report says. 

Carras then rushed at Lyew, screaming and with fists clenched and Lyew fired five times at Carras until he stopped moving, the report says.

When Carras fell to the ground, he looked up at Lyew and said, “Thank you,” according to the report.

After hearing the gunshots, Zaleski fired his department-issued weapon once at Carras. 

Other officer who arrived, treated Carras, then emergency medical technicians arrived. Carras was pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m.

Carras had fentanyl, ethanol, and diphenhydramine in his system at his time of death, according to the medical examiner’s report. 

In the autopsy report ruled the cause of death as gunshot wounds of the trunk of Carras’ body.  Carras had six gunshot wounds, including one re-entry wound and two punctures from a stun gun.

The state’s attorney report says four bullets recovered by the medical examiner were fired by Lyew and one was fired by Zaleski.  An additional bullet Lyew fired was found in a grill on the deck. 

There were no police body cameras or dash camera videos and the state’s attorney said the “recently passed Police Accountability legislation should address this need in the future.” 

“The availability of such video would have substantially assisted the review of the officers’ actions that night,” the report says.

The state’s attorney determined that each officers believed the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend himself and the other and the evidence is that they were legally justified.

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