An investigation into four Bridgeport officers' use of deadly force in a police-involved shooting two years ago that killed a man during a firearm sale sting operation has determined that the officers' actions were justified and didn't break any laws, according to state's attorney for the Litchfield judicial district.
Bridgeport Officer Everton Walker, Det. Christopher Borona, Det. Sean Ronan and Det. James Borrico were under investigation after Carnell Williams was killed by police gunfire during law enforcement response to a staged gun buy involving an undercover officer on Nov. 24, 2013. State law requires an investigation into police force that results in the death of another person.
In a report detailing the investigation findings, the state's attorney said that Williams was armed with a gun and aimed it at police officers as they tried to take him and associate Kiarra "Kiki" Davis into custody during a police-staged gun transaction.
The State Police Statewide Urban Violence Cooperative Crime Control Task Force and Bridgeport police had received a tip from an informant that Kiarra "Kiki" Davis, who has ties to Bridgeport Correctional Center inmate Samuel Dejesus, a felon convicted on narcotics charges, wanted to sell two firearms for $750, according to the state's attorney's office. Police received information that Dejesus instructed her to do so to get money for his bail.
So, Officer Walker posed as a buyer and called Davis to set up the Nov. 25, 2013 meeting under the guise that he wanted to purchase the weapon. Davis changed the meeting location to the Burger King at 193 Boston Avenue in Bridgeport.
Twelve Bridgeport police and task force officers were involved in the sting operation. In a police briefing before the meeting, responding officers were told Davis might bring Williams, referred to as a "crazy"man name "Nay Nay," to assist her with the transaction. Their real identities were not known at the time.
The plan was for Walker to meet Davis in the parking lot, show her the money and ask to see the firearms, according to the state's attorney's office. Once he got sight of the weapons, he was instructed to walk away and signal officers stationed in unmarked vehicles so that they could swarm Davis's car and take her into custody, the state's attorney's office said.
However, when he arrived and called Davis, who told him where to park, there was another car waiting with several men inside who police suspected were associated with her, according to the state's attorney's office. After that, Walker couldn't reach her by phone for awhile, but she finally texted him and told him to turn off his headlights, the report said. When he called her again to say she was leaving because he didn't believe she was coming, she said she was in the Burger King even though officers couldn't see anyone matching her description inside, according to the state's attorney's office. Walker started to leave and then she called and again told him where to park and to turn off his headlights, the report said. He did as she asked but then said he was leaving because he didn't feel comfortable, so she responded with her actual location and description of the gold Nissan Altima she was in, according to the report. Initially she had said she would be in a black Honda, the state's attorney's office said.
By that point, many of the officers were concerned Walker was in danger because it seemed like Davis was stalling and hiding her identity and location, the report said.
But Walker continued with the operation and approached the passenger side of the car as Davis asked him to do, according to the report. Davis was driving the car and the window was rolled down halfway, revealing a male passenger, later identified as Williams, who she said was there to protect her, the report said. Walker could see that Williams carried a large, loaded revolver, which was pointed downward, so he walked away from the car and signaled to the waiting officers.
Officers positioned unmarked police cars to block Davis and Williams from getting away and police, including Detectives Borrico, Ronan and Borona, surrounded the car with guns drawn, identifying themselves as law enforcement, according to the report. Walker yelled that the passenger had a loaded gun, which three other officers confirmed hearing, the report stated. Williams didn't comply with several commands to put his hands up and drop the weapon and neither party would shut off the car and open the door as asked, the state's attorney's office said.
With the passenger door locked and the window up, Det. Borrico tried unsuccessfully to break the window using his handgun, according to the report. The officers saw Williams moving around a lot in the car and waving around a large handgun that he then pointed in their direction, the report said. Multiple officers also responding heard a shot fired, followed by more gunshots, which all turned out to be fired by police, the investigation found. Walker said that he saw Borrico disappear from sight after hearing a gunshot, so he thought he was hit with a bullet, according to the report.
Walker and Detectives Borona, Borrico and Ronan fired shots at the car and both of Davis and Williams got out of the vehicle, the report said. Williams tried to flee and a police dog was released after him, but he fell to the ground, twisting and moving with his hands concealed. Borrico said he was worried that Williams still had a gun that he planned on using and was also concerned that he didn't have any cover, the report said. That's when Borona fired his gun at Williams from 20 feet away and the police dog apprehended Williams, according to the report. The dog was called off, but Williams kept his hands on his waist area and resisted being handcuffed, according to the report.
That incident happened quickly in about the span of a minute since Walker signaled police to come to his aid, the report said.
Police handcuffed him and brought him to Bridgeport Hospital, where he later died of multiple gunshot wounds. Davis sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to her face from the gunfire while she was in the car.
The medical examiner's office determined that Williams suffered five gunshot wounds, one of which entered his mid-back, struck his right lung and exited his chest, causing his demise, the report stated. Forensics investigators determined that Williams' fatal injury happened in the car after blood matching his DNA was found in the passenger's side of the vehicle and they deduced that it was from the gunshot wound that punctured his lung and claimed his life, according to the report.
Another bullet went through his lower back and exited his left shoulder and the other wounds were found in his right shoulder, upper right arm and right hand, the report on the medical examiner's findings said. Williams also suffered from dog bite marks on his right leg. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by police shooting.
Williams also had marijuana in his system at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner.
Williams' DNA was found on four bullets, two of which penetrated his body, the report said, however forensics evidence couldn't determine which specific bullet killed Williams and therefore they couldn't identify which officer fired the fatal shot.
When detectives interviewed Davis, she said she "was in the wrong place at the wrong time" when a van pulled up with multiple "cops" and that she put her foot on the gas when her car was bumped. She told police that the officers fired at her car, but that she didn't fire a gun or have one in her hand at the time. She refused to say why she and Williams were at the Burger King or whether there were firearms in the car, but said "at the end of the day it all falls on me" and she has to "own this," the report said. She didn't elaborate on what she meant by that, deferring further questions to her attorney after she was released from the hospital. State police said they couldn't reach her lawyer, so the state's attorney tried to offer her immunity in exchange for information, but she declined further interviews, the report said.
A Burger King patron interviewed told police that he saw about six Bridgeport police officers with guns drawn surrounding a tan car. He heard a "loud bang" after seeing the car window roll down and then heard several other bangs from gunfire that happened "very fast," according to the report. The tan car moved to leave the parking lot, but struck a handicap sign, the man said in a statement. He said he saw officers rush to the vehicle, open both front doors and remove both people inside from the car, handcuffing the driver, the report said. Meanwhile, he heard the passenger screaming that he was hurt and needed an ambulance, so officers stayed with him until an ambulance arrived, the man said in his statement. He was the only civilian witness in the case.
Investigators reviewed surveillance videos from Price Rite, Chase Bank, United Check Cashing and Burger King in the area near the police-involved shooting incident and found that the video provided evidence consistent with the officers' statements.
Investigating detectives also seized a black nylon-type backpack from the passenger side of the car, an unloaded Ruger .357 Magnum revolver on the backpack and another unloaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver in the backpack, as well as five copper-colored Winchester 38 SPL cartridges and a copper-colored Federal 357 Magnum cartridge in the bag. The Division of Scientific Services found Williams' DNA on the firearms, which were both operational, the report said.
Investigators determined that Walker fired two shots, Ronan fired six, Borona fired eight and Borrico fired nine, the report said. The most rounds that could have been fired was 25 and detectives found 24 at the scene, according to the report.
Davis and Dejesus were arrested in connection to the gun sale arranged in the sting operation. She pleaded nolo contendere in Fairfield court to charges of attempt to commit the illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver, illegal possession of weapons in a motor vehicle, attempt to commit firearms trafficking and attempt to commit assault on a police officer. She was sentenced on Feb. 27, 2015 to 15 years in prison suspended after five if she proves good behavior and meets the conditions of her sentence and five years of probation after her release, according to the report.
Dejesus pleaded guilty to attempt to commit illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver, attempt to commit firearms trafficking and conspiracy to commit illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver. He was sentenced on March 27, 2015 to 15 years in prison, with the opportunity to get out after seven on good behavior, and five years of probation after his release, according to the report.
State law allows police to use deadly physical force if defending themselves from being killed due to the "use or imminent use of deadly physical force" by another person as long as the officer has the "objectively reasonable" belief that such force is necessary to protect himself from being killed, the report said.
The investigation concluded that the officers statements' were corroborated by evidence, the civilian witness's statement, surveillance videos, radio transmissions, forensics, bloodstain pattern analysis and the medical examiner's findings, according to the report. Investigators determined that Walker, Ronan, Borrico and Borona "believed the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend themselves and their fellow officers from the imminent use of deadly physical force" and that their actions were justified and appropriate, according to the report.
"Mr. Williams was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle, holding a revolver that Officer Walker believed to be loaded," the state's attorney's office said in the conclusion section of its report. "Multiple officers observed Mr. Williams waving the gun above his head and moving around significantly within the vehicle. Mr. Williams refused to follow repeated police commands to open the door, show his hands, and lower his firearm. Instead, Mr. Williams leveled the firearm in the direction of police officers. Mr. Williams’ behavior caused a threat of lethal harm to the safety of all of the officers involved. At this point, Officer Walker and Detectives Ronan, Borrico and Borona resorted to the use of deadly force. Mr. Williams sustained several gunshot wounds, one of which caused his demise."
No further action will be taken on the case by the Division of Criminal Justice, according to the state's attorney's office.
The State Police Western District Major Crime Squad, as requested by the State's Attorney's office in Fairfield, conducted the investigation with the help of the state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection's Forensic Science Laboratory and the office of the state medical examiner in Farmington. The Fairfield state's attorney's office also asked that another office be assigned to the case, so Litchfield's state's attorney's office took on the investigation in Jan. 6, 2014.