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'The Driver Had His Weapon:' Hartford Police Shoot Man Who Evaded Officers

Chion Wolf (file photo)
Connecticut Public Radio

A man has died after he was shot by Hartford Police Friday night.

The Connecticut State Police have identified Alphonso Zaporta, 41, of Windsor, as the man shot by police on a highway on-ramp in Hartford.Interim police Chief Jason Thody updated the media on the shooting Saturday morning and said that police attempted to stop a vehicle on Friday night just after 9 p.m. near the intersection of Russ St. and Park Terrace. But, the driver fled, attempting to get on I-84 Westbound instead of pulling over. Police caught up to the suspect as he came upon a traffic jam, but Thody said he hit a civilian vehicle and kept trying to evade police.

The interim chief said the police were finally able to stop the vehicle. A passenger got out of the car and surrendered. But, the driver wasn’t cooperating, according to Thody, and that’s when a struggle ensued. 

“At one point, the officer can be heard yelling that the driver had his weapon,” Thody said. “As the driver was pulled from the vehicle, he was in possession of the officer’s gun. At that point, the driver was shot.”

Zaporta was shot by Hartford detective Zack Sherry, according to state police. Sherry has reportedly been placed on administrative leave. 

Thody said that three officers captured the incident with their body cameras. Mayor Luke Bronin has seen the footage. He said to him it’s clear that the suspect was the aggressor. He’s asking the state’s attorney investigating the incident to release the footage.

“We will continue to urge and ask that that video be released. I think it’s important that the public see that video as quickly as possible,” Bronin said. 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.”

The Connecticut State Police’s Eastern District Major Crime Squad is investigating the matter. It will submit findings to Matthew Gedansky, the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Tolland.

Brian Foley, aide to Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said to expect more information to be available Monday.

“We’re looking to continue to improve transparency following a police shooting as we’ve done in the three police shootings [New Haven, Wethersfield, and Danbury] since James Rovella took office,” Foley said.

The Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in on the shooting, saying that the city doesn’t have to wait for state investigators to release the footage to the public.

“It is well within the City of Hartford’s power to immediately, publicly release the body camera footage and names of the city police employee or employees who shot and killed someone last night, and we call on the City to do so,” said David McGuire, the executive director of ACLU Connecticut. “It is deeply problematic that Mayor Bronin and Interim Chief Thody have seen footage from last night, but not the people they are responsible for serving.”

Hartford officers have not said why they were attempting to stop the vehicle.

This story has been updated.

Frankie Graziano’s career in broadcast journalism continues to evolve.

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