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Case 3:21-cv-00175-KAD Document 1 Filed 02/10/21 Page 1 of 14

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT

JOSE VEGA-COLON, individually and as :


administrator of the ESTATE OF ANTHONY : CIVIL ACTION NO.
VEGA-CRUZ, :
:
Plaintiffs, :
:
vs. :
:
OFFICER LAYAU EULIZIER, in his official and :
individual capacity; TOWN OF WETHERSFIELD:
and “John Does I-XX”, whose names and identities :
are not currently known, :
:
Defendants. : October 27, 2020

COMPLAINT

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. This is an action to redress the deprivation by the Defendants of rights secured to

ANTHONY VEGA-CRUZ by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States

Constitution and Connecticut statutory and common law.

2. These claims arise as a result of the fatal police shooting of the Decedent,

ANTHONY VEGA-CRUZ in the Town of Wethersfield, Connecticut, on Saturday, April 20,

2019.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

3. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28

U.S.C. §§, and 1343(a)(3).

4. Venue is proper in this Court by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1391, because the events

giving rise to the claims occurred in the District of Connecticut and the Plaintiff and the

Defendants reside in the District of Connecticut.


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5. This Court has jurisdiction over the state law claims under the doctrine of

supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

PARTIES

6. Plaintiff JOSE VEGA-COLON is Administrator of the estate of his son,

ANTHONY VEGA-CRUZ, having been appointed by the Probate Court for the District of

Newington on July 23, 2019. A copy of the Certificate of Appointment is attached to this

Complaint as Exhibit A.

7. At all times relevant to the claims asserted herein, the Plaintiff’s decedent,

ANTHONY VEGA-CRUZ, was a resident of Hartford, Connecticut.

8. At all times relevant to the claims asserted herein, the Defendant, TOWN OF

WETHERSFIELD, was a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the

State of Connecticut.

9. At all times relevant to the claims asserted herein, the Defendant, Officer LAYAU

EULIZIER, was an officer in the Wethersfield Police Department and was acting under color of

law, in the performance of his duties and within the scope of his authority. He is sued in his

individual and official capacity.

FACTS

10. On April 20, 2019, at approximately 6:00 pm., ANTHONY VEGA-CRUZ

(“DECEDENT”) Decedent was driving his car on or near Silas Deane Highway, in Wethersfield,

Connecticut.

11. On information and belief, DECEDENT had not committed any crime and

officers from the Wethersfield Police Department (“WPD”), did not have reasonable suspicion to

detain DECEDENT, nor probable cause to arrest him.

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12. The involved officers from the WPD racially profiled DECEDENT and allege

that they were pulling him over for a motor vehicle violation. Said vehicle violation is not a

felony and at best may be classified as a misdemeanor.

13. Despite only being wanted for a motor vehicle violation (misdemeanor) the

involved WPD Officers, including, but not limited to, Defendant Officer (“EULIZIER”),

engaged in a vehicle pursuit with DECEDENT’s car, attempted to set up a roadblock and

rammed DECEDENT’S car, in violation of WPD’s policies. Further, WPD’s policy prohibits

shooting at vehicles and using firearms/deadly force against suspected misdemeanor offenders.

14. The attempted roadblock caused DECEDENT to lose control of his car. After

losing control of his car, EULIZIER then rammed DECEDENT’s car. The road block and the

ramming of DECEDENT’s vehicle were an unreasonable seizure.

15. After attempting a roadblock on DECEDENT and then ramming his vehicle,

EULIZIER then discharged his firearm at DECEDENT while DECEDENT was driving on Silas

Dean Highway, causing an incapacitated DECEDENT to immediately lose control of his vehicle.

The ramming of DECEDENT’s vehicle and then shooting him were excessive uses of force by

EULIZIER against DECEDENT.

16. DECEDENT never attempted to strike the involved officers, or anyone else with

his vehicle, nor did he attempt to do so. Further, DECEDENT never intentionally struck the

involved officers’ vehicles, or anyone else’s vehicle, with his car. Further, EULIZIER, nor

anyone else, were not in the direct path of the car DECEDENT was driving and EULIZIER was

easily able to step out of the way or path of the vehicle.

17. Officer EULIZIER discharged his firearm at the DECEDENT despite the fact that

he posed no imminent or immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone, including

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the involved officers. Further, EULIZIER intended to kill or seriously injure the DECEDENT

and stop the car he was driving.

18. DECEDENT, who was unarmed, was struck by the bullets fired by EULIZIER

WALKER, causing DECEDENT serious physical injury and eventually killing him.

19. DECEDENT was inside of his vehicle, and EULIZIER was on foot at the time of

the shooting.

20. At no point during this Incident did DECEDENT physically injure anyone and he

never caused serious bodily injury to the involved police officers or anyone else.

21. At the time of the shooting, EULIZIER was not in danger of being struck by

DECEDENT’s car he was driving, nor was anyone else. EULIZIER was able to and did in fact

move out of the way of the DECEDENT’s vehicle. EULIZIER used poor tactics during this

incident and poor positioning.

22. Police officers are trained not to place themselves in the path of a vehicle which

they are trying to stop, or that could potentially flee, or is fleeing. Further, police officers are

trained that if they find themselves in the path of a vehicle they are trying to stop, they are

trained to step out of the path of the vehicle rather than shooting at the vehicle if it begins to

move. Further, police officers are trained that shooting at moving vehicles is prohibited and/or

highly disfavored because it is highly ineffective and dangerous and is most likely to result in the

driver of the vehicle losing control of said vehicle, which would be a danger to the driver of the

vehicle, their passengers, and others in the general vicinity. Accordingly, EULIZIER either

was not properly trained with regards to shooting at moving and occupied vehicles, or he

violated his training with regards to shooting at moving and occupied vehicles.

23. After being shot by EULIZIER, DECEDENT was bleeding profusely. Despite

DECEDENT’s obvious serious injuries, EULIZIER did not timely summons medical attention

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for DECEDENT. Further, at no time did the involved officers attempt to provide medical aid to

DECEDENT, who eventually succumbed to his injuries.

24. DECEDENT was unarmed and posed no imminent threat of death or serious

physical injury to either EULIZIER or any other person if they were not immediately

apprehended. In other words, DECEDENT did not present a significant threat of death or

serious bodily injury to Defendant or the public.

25. WETHERSFIELD’s police department either had an inadequate policy and

training with regards to shooting at moving and occupied vehicles or EULIZIER violated the

WETHERSFILED’s Police department’s policy and shooting regarding shooting at moving

vehicles.

26. On information and belief, EULIZIER had committed a felony.

27. During the incident EULIZIER was acting under the color of law when he shot

and killed DECEDENT.

28. EULIZIER’s actions and inactions, including running onto Silas Deane Highway,

heightened the risk of a deadly encounter.

29. EULIZIER failed to use reasonable caution in attempting to apprehend

DECEDENT.

30. EULIZIER shot DECEDENT, including a shot to the head, mortally wounding

and killing him.

31. EULIZIER’s use of deadly force was unreasonable, unjustified, excessive and

caused (including proximately) the death of DECEDENT.

32. DECEDENT was entitled to be free of the use of unreasonable force that was

clearly disproportionate to the situation and which caused him deadly harm.

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33. As a direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendant described above,

DECEDENT suffered damages and physical injuries including a gunshot wound to his head,

resulting in his death at the young age of 18.

34. As a further direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendant described

above, DECEDENT was permanently deprived of the enjoyment of life’s activities.

35. As a further direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendant described

above, DECEDENT experienced physical pain, mental pain, emotional distress, suffering and

fear.

36. As a further direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendant described

above, DECEDENT suffered a complete destruction of his earnings capacity.

37. As a further direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendant described

above, the Plaintiff was forced to incur expenses for his son’s hospitalization, funeral and burial.

38. Plaintiff served notice on the Municipal Defendant, pursuant to CT. Stat. §7-465,

on August 19, 2019, and has fully complied with all conditions precedent to the commencement

of this lawsuit . The notice is attached hereto as Exhibit A to this complaint.

COUNT I (Fourth Amendment as to Officer EULIZIER)

39. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 38 above as if fully set forth herein.

40. The Defendant violated the DECEDENT’s rights as secured by the Fourth

Amendment to the United States Constitution and as applied to the Defendant by the Fourteenth

Amendment to the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to be free from

unreasonable searches and seizures. It was unreasonable and excessive for EULIZIER to set up

a road block, to ram DECEDENT’S vehicle, to point a gun at DECEDENT, to shoot at him and

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to attempt to stop the car by shooting at it. Further, this also violated police officer standards and

training.

41. EULIZIER did not give a verbal warning that deadly force would be used prior to

shooting the car that DECEDENT was in, despite it being feasible to do so.

42. The unreasonable use of force by Defendant EULIZIER deprived DECEDENT of

his right to be secure in their person against unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed to

DECEDENT under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and applied to state

actors by the Fourteenth Amendment.

43. As a result, DECEDENT suffered extreme pain and suffering and eventually

suffered a loss of life and of earning capacity.

44. DECEDENT was not armed and at no time during the incident did he verbally

threaten anyone or intentionally attempt to strike anyone with the car DECEDENT was driving.

45. The conduct of Defendants EULIZIER was willful, wanton, malicious and done

with a reckless disregard for the rights and safety of DECEDENT and warrants the imposition of

exemplary and punitive damages against him.

46. The excessive and unreasonable force used against DECEDENT by Defendant

EULIZIER, which included, but is not limited to, unjustifiably shooting of DECEDENT,

deprived DECEDENT of his right to be secure in their person against unreasonable searches and

seizures as guaranteed to DECEDENT under the Fourth Amendment to the United States

Constitution and applied to state actors by the Fourteenth Amendment.

47. The denial of medical care by Defendant EULIZIER also deprived DECEDENT

of his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed to

DECEDENT under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and applied to state

actors by the Fourteenth Amendment.

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48. As a result, DECEDENT suffered extreme mental and physical pain and suffering

and eventually suffered a loss of life and earning capacity.

49. Defendants EULIZIER knew that failure to provide timely medical treatment to

DECEDENT could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of

pain, but disregarded that serious medical need, causing DECEDENT great bodily harm and

death.

50. After shooting DECEDENT, EULIZIER did not timely summons or provide

medical attention for DECEDENT who was bleeding profusely and had obvious serious injuries,

despite it being safe to do so.

51. The conduct of EULIZIER was willful, wanton, malicious, and done with reckless

disregard for the rights and safety of DECEDENT therefore also warrants the imposition of

exemplary and punitive damages as to Defendant EULIZIER.

COUNT II (Fourteenth Amendment as to Defendant EULIZIER)

52. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 51 above as if fully set forth herein.

53. JOSE VEGA-COLON had a cognizable interest under the Due Process Clause of

the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to be free from state actions that

deprive him of life, liberty, or property in such a manner as to shock the conscience, including

but not limited to, unwarranted state interference in JOSE VEGA-COLON’s familial relationship

with his son, DECEDENT.

54. JOSE VEGA-COLON had a cognizable interest under the Due Process Clause of

the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to be free from state actions that

deprive him of their right to life, liberty, or property in such a manner as to shock the conscience.

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55. As a result of the excessive force by EULIZIER, DECEDENT died. JOSE

VEGA-COLON was thereby deprived of his constitutional right of familial relationship with

DECEDENT.

56. The aforementioned actions of EULIZIER, along with other undiscovered

conduct, shock the conscience, in that they acted with deliberate indifference to the constitutional

rights of DECEDENT and JOSE VEGA-COLON, and with purpose to harm unrelated to any

legitimate law enforcement objective.

57. Defendant EULIZIER, acting under color of state law, thus violated the

Fourteenth Amendment rights of DECEDENT and JOSE VEGA-COLON. As a direct and

proximate cause of the acts of EULIZIER, DECEDENT experienced severe pain and suffering

and lost his life and earning capacity. JOSE VEGA-COLON suffered extreme and severe mental

anguish and pain and haS been injured in mind and body. JOSE VEGA-COLON haS also been

deprived of the life-long love, companionship, comfort, support, society, care and sustenance of

DECEDENT, and will continue to be so deprived for the remainder of his natural life.

58. The conduct of EULIZIER was willful, wanton, malicious, and done with

reckless disregard for the rights and safety of DECEDENT and JOSE VEGA-COLON and

therefore warrants the imposition of exemplary and punitive damages as to Defendants

EULIZIER.

COUNT III (Battery as to all Defendants)

59. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 58 above as if fully set forth herein.

60. The Defendant EULIZIER purposefully, and/or with knowledge to a substantial

certainty that a harmful and/or offensive touching would result, touched DECEDENT in a

harmful and/or offensive manner; and/or the Defendant purposefully, and/or with knowledge to a

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substantial certainty that an apprehension of an imminent harmful and/or offensive touching

would result, attempted to cause DECEDENT to suffer an apprehension of an imminent harmful

and/or offensive touching.

61. By using a roadblock, ramming DECEDENT’s vehicle, and shooting

DECEDENT, EULIZIER applied force and/or violence against DECEDENT which was

unlawful.

62. A reasonable officer under similar circumstances would not have reasonably

believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to effect an arrest or prevent the escape from

custody of a person whom he reasonably believes to have committed an offense, or to defend

himself or a third person from the use of imminent physical force while effecting or attempting

to effect an arrest or while preventing or attempting to prevent escape. In other words, it was

unreasonable for EULIZIER to believe that the use of deadly force against DECEDENT was

necessary to defend himself or a third person.

63. EULIZIER’s use of deadly force against DECEDENT was unreasonable. Further,

in fatally shooting DECEDENT, EULIZIER acted with malice, wantonness, recklessness and/or

with an intent to injure DECEDENT. EULIZER acted with a conscious and reckless disregard

of the just rights or safety of DECEDENT and/or the consequences of this actions and inactions.

EULIZIER firing his gun at DECEDENT constitutes a conscious use of unlawful force that rises

to the level of willful, wanton, and intentional conduct and shows that EULIZIER acted in

reckless disregard of DECEDENT’s safety.

64. EULIZIER’s use of deadly force against DECEDENT was highly unreasonable

conduct, involved an extreme departure from ordinary care of a police officer, and firing at

DECEDENT created a situation where there was a high degree of danger that was apparent.

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65. The conduct of was malicious, wanton, oppressive, reckless and accomplished

with a conscious disregard for the rights of DECEDENT and Plaintiff and also entitles Plaintiff

to an award of exemplary and punitive damages.

COUNT IV (Negligence as to all Defendants)

66. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 65 above as if fully set forth herein.

67. By virtue of the foregoing, Defendants owed DECEDENT a duty of due care, and

that duty was breached in the Defendants’ negligence and failure to exercise due care in dealing

with DECEDENT proximately caused his death.

68. The Defendants acted negligently and/or failed to exercise reasonable care in one

or more ways:

a. the failure to properly and adequately assess the need to use force or deadly force

against DECEDENT;

b. the negligent tactics and handling of the situation with DECEDENT, including

pre-shooting negligence;

c. the negligent detention, arrest and use of force, including deadly force, against

DECEDENT;

d. the failure to provide prompt medical care to DECEDENT;

e. the negligent handling of evidence and witnesses;

f. violating WETHERSFIELD’s police department’s policy regarding shooting at

moving/occupied vehicles;

g. shooting DECEDENT’s vehicle multiple times while DECEDENT was inside the

vehicle, causing DECEDENT to lose control over the vehicle;

h. of giving inadequate verbal warnings and commands;

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i. failure to give a verbal warning that deadly force would be used prior to the

shooting;

j. failing to use less than lethal alternatives; and

k. using deadly force when there is no imminent threat of death or serious

bodily injury, or immediate defense of life.

69. DECEDENT was part of a narrowly defined class of foreseeable victims subject

to imminent harm.

70. The Defendant was a public official to whom it was apparent that their conduct

was likely to subject DECEDENT to imminent harm.

71. EULIZIER shooting at DECEDENT while he was driving his vehicle, created an

imminent harm and EULIZIER was able to identify DECEDENT as a victim of his shooting,

including since, EULIZIER aimed his gun at DECEDENT and intentionally pulled the trigger

and shot DECEDENT, and it should have been apparent to EULIZIER that his conduct in aiming

and shooting at DECEDENT as he drove his car would likely subject DECEDENT to harm,

including causing significant pain and suffering and ultimately death.

COUNT V (Wrongful Death as to all Defendants)

72. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 71 above as if fully set forth herein.

73. The above-mentioned wrongful act/omissions were a proximate cause of

DECEDENT’s death.

74. EULIZIER’s shooting of DECEDENT was a wrongful act that violated the

standard of care that a reasonable officer would have exercised under similar circumstances.

Further, DECEDENT’s gunshot wound to his head, which was inflicted by EULIZIER, severely

injured DECEDENT and ultimately caused his death.

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75. EULIZIER’s use of deadly force against DECEDENT was unreasonable under

the totality of the circumstances, and a reasonable officer under similar circumstances would not

have used deadly force against DECEDENT.

76. By virtue of DECEDENT’s wrongful death, his next of kin, distributes, issue, and

Plaintiffs has been deprived of the intellectual, moral, and physical training, guidance and

assistance that DECEDENT supplied and would have continued to supply in the future.

77. By virtue of DECEDENT’s wrongful death, his next of kin, distributes, issue, and

Plaintiff is entitled to recover for his pecuniary damages and DECEDENT’s conscious pain and

suffering and his wrongful death and the destruction of DECEDENT’s capacity to carry on his

life’s activities, including his capacity to earn a living as he would have if he had not been killed.

78. By virtue of DECEDENT’s wrongful death, his next of kin, distributes, issue, and

Plaintiff is entitled to recover for special damages including but not limited to DECEDENT’s

necessary medical, hospital, nursing services, and funeral expenses.

79. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff, the family, issue, and distributees of

DECEDENT has been deprived by DECEDENT’s death and his resultant economic and

pecuniary losses and as set forth above and herein.

COUNT VI (Violation of the Connecticut Constitution against Officer EULIZIER)

80. The Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in the

paragraphs 1 through 79 above as if fully set forth herein.

81. The Defendant Officer unlawfully deprived DECEDENT of the rights secured to

him by the Connecticut Constitution in the following way:

a. EULIZIER’s use of deadly force against DECEDENT was unreasonable and

unlawful; and

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b. The failure to provide and/or summons timely medical care following the use of

deadly force against DECEDENT was unreasonable and unlawful.

RELIEF REQUESTED

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff respectfully requests the following relief:

A. Actual, compensatory and just damages;

B. Common law and statutory punitive damages;

C. Attorneys’ fees and costs, including pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1988; and

D. Such other damages as in law or equity may appertain.

JURY DEMAND

The Plaintiff claims trial by jury for all issues and counts in this case.

Dated: East Haven, Connecticut


December 16, 2020
MICHAEL A. JEFFERSON
ATTORNEY AT LAW
By: ___/S/_Michael A. Jefferson____
Michael A. Jefferson, Esq.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
575 Main Street
East Haven, Connecticut 06512
(203) 787-5683
CT Fed Bar. No: ct19792
Email:
mjefferson.esq@gmail.com

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