Wethersfield Officer Involved in Fatal 2019 Shooting Resigns

A Wethersfield police officer who shot and killed an 18-year-old after the teen sped away from a traffic stop resigned from the department in April, police said Wednesday.

Officer Layau Eulizier voluntarily resigned on April 15, 2020.

The resignation centers around the April 20, 2019 shooting of Anthony Vega-Cruz on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield. His death prompted protests from the community calling for transparency and justice in the case.

In a letter dated April 15, 2020, Eulizier said despite Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy's conclusion that his use of force was justified, he and his family have been threatened and harassed since the incident.

"Unfortunately, there are a vocal few who harbor a bias against police and do not understand the realities of police work or the dangers we face in enforcing the law and protecting our communities," he wrote in his resignation letter.

Vega-Cruz initially stopped when Wethersfield police officers pulled him over for a motor vehicle violation, but then sped away, leading police on a brief chase, according to a state's attorney investigation into the incident.

Officer Layau Eulizier's cruiser collided with Vega-Cruz's car and Eulizier jumped from his vehicle ordering Vega-Cruz to show his hands.

According to the report, Vega-Cruz attempted to drive away, nearly hitting Officer Eulizier.

Officer Eulizier fired two shots into the windshield of the car, hitting Vega-Cruz once in the head.

A passenger in the car, Vega-Cruz's 18-year-old girlfriend, Stephanie Santiago, was not injured.

Hardy concluded that Eulizier was justified in using deadly force because he feared he would be run over as Vega-Cruz tried to speed away.

This was the second time Eulizier used deadly force during an incident. As a member of the Manchester Police Department, Eulizier shot and killed a bank robbery suspect with a knife in the town of Bolton in Aug. 2015. It was determined he was justified in that shooting as well.

An 18-year-old was shot in Wethersfield Saturday, after the teen allegedly tried to hit an officer with his vehicle. On Monday, Connecticut State Police confirmed that the teen, Anthony Jose Vega Cruz, died of his injuries.

Vega-Cruz's family have said Eulizier's past supervisors had expressed concerns about his performance and difficulty handling stressful situations, and that he should have never been hired by the Wethersfield Police Department. They also called for changes in police culture and policies.

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