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Videos Of Hartford Police Shooting Released, Showing Struggle Between Suspect And Police

A screengrab from one of three videos released by the state's attorney for the judicial district of Tolland on Monday, July 29 depicting a July 2019 fight between a suspect and police officers that resulted in the suspect's death.
State's Attorney For The Judicial District Of Tolland
A screengrab from one of three videos released by the state's attorney for the judicial district of Tolland on Monday, July 29 depicting a July 2019 fight between a suspect and police officers that resulted in the suspect's death.

Three days after a man was shot and killed by a Hartford police detective, the state’s attorney investigating the incident released body camera footage showing the shooting from the perspective of three different police officers.

Investigators say that the deadly encounter with Alphonso Zaporta, 41, began after he fled an attempted stop Friday night. The stop at the intersection of Park Terrace and Russ Street at 9:17 p.m. was part of a criminal investigation, according to the Connecticut State Police.

When officers finally caught up to Zaporta at an I-84 Westbound on-ramp near Capitol Avenue, the videos released Monday show that police had trouble subduing him.

At one point during the struggle, an officer can be heard on the video yelling, “He’s got my gun.”

Less than 20 seconds later, three shots are fired.

The Connecticut State Police have identified Zack Sherry, a detective with 14 years of experience, as the man who shot Zaporta. The Hartford Police Department has confirmed that Sherry’s been placed on administrative leave and said that it’s department policy to do so when an officer discharges his or her weapon.

The incident is being investigated by Matthew Gedansky, the state’s attorney for the judicial district of Tolland. Gedanksy is reviewing whether the use of force was justified.

“The State’s Attorney extends his condolences to Mr. Zaporta’s family,” reads a statement from the state’s attorney’s office that accompanies the video release. “The investigation is in its early stages and it is not possible to predict at this time how long it will take to complete. Additional information will be provided when appropriate.”

State investigators haven’t revealed yet which officer had his gun taken by Zaporta, and it is not clear from the videos that have been released.

Those videos have been edited, according to Monday’s statement from the state’s attorney’s office: “The video has been edited out of respect for Mr. Zaporta and his family, but the material being released does capture the portions of the incident pertinent to the investigation into the use of deadly force.”

No audio can be heard in the first 60 seconds of each video. The state’s attorney’s office said that’s because the the camera operating system used by Hartford Police Department doesn’t allow for audio recall in body cameras for the first minute of video.

The interim police chief of the Hartford Police Department, Jason Thody, spoke about the incident the morning after it happened. He detailed the driver’s attempted escape, from coming upon traffic and hitting a car while backing away, to the officer’s deployment of “Stop Sticks” to disable the vehicle. While a passenger got out of the vehicle and surrendered, the driver of the vehicle can be seen fighting with an officer.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy and we train to avoid using deadly force whenever possible,” Thody said. “But, sometimes circumstances leave our officers with no alternative.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin had called at the weekend for the videos to be released, saying he believes they make clear that the suspect was the aggressor.

“I will say that this is precisely why it’s so important to have body camera footage so that we can see as best we can an accurate depiction of what’s happened in real time,” Bronin said.

City officers began wearing body cams earlier this year. Within hours of the shooting, the ACLU of Connecticut demanded that the Hartford Police Department release the footage.

“Police have killed another person in Connecticut, and once again, the public is struggling for information because police refuse to provide it,” David McGuire, the ACLU of Connecticut’s executive director, said at the time.

An autopsy of Zaporta was conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington on Monday.

Copyright 2019 Connecticut Public Radio

Frankie Graziano joined CPBN in October of 2011 as a sports producer. In addition to reporting for WNPR, Graziano produces feature profiles for CPTV and the web.
Vanessa de la Torre comes to WNPR after more than a decade as a newspaper reporter at the Hartford Courant, where her storytelling and investigative work on Hartford education was recognized regionally and by the Education Writers Association. She has also written for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and interned at the Washington Post and the Imperial Valley Press in her native El Centro, Calif., a desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border. Vanessa received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and her master's from Stanford’s journalism program.
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