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Attorneys raise new questions in West Hartford police shooting that left man dead

FILE: State police officers investigate the scene after a West Hartford police officer shot and killed Mike Alexander-Garcia, August 08, 2023.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
FILE: State police officers investigate the scene where a West Hartford police officer shot and killed Mike Alexander-Garcia, August 08, 2023.

Attorneys for the family of a man shot and killed by West Hartford police earlier this month say up to seven minutes may have elapsed between the time he was shot and when officers first began to render aid.

Peter Bowman, a partner at BBB Attorneys, said Tuesday the question was raised by comparing timestamps of available police body camera footage and the metadata of a bystander’s cell phone video of the aftermath of the shooting.

“The FBI and other regulations of police officers indicate that after the use of force, justified or not, police must provide immediate medical care to those in need,” Bowman said. “This was a change that was implemented after the incident involving George Floyd.”

“One way to get the exact timing is to obtain the body worn camera of all of the officers at the scene,” the attorney said. “This will clarify the timing, but the videos released so far stop at the exact time of the shooting. The videos later in time have not been released.”

Police say on Aug. 8, Mike Alexander-Garcia was traveling in a stolen car stopped by police near Westfarms Mall. Alexander-Garcia allegedly fled from the stop, unsuccessfully attempted to steal two vehicles, then entered the driver’s seat of an SUV parked in the service bay of an auto shop on New Britain Avenue.

Body-worn and dashboard-camera footage released by the West Hartford Police Department show Officer Andrew Teeter put his police dog into the SUV. Alexander-Garcia pleads with the officer for help as the dog appears to bite him. The SUV begins to move with Teeter, Alexander-Garcia, and the police dog inside. The officer’s body camera footage then shows him shoot Alexander-Garcia multiple times in the torso.

On Tuesday, Bowman also asked why the West Hartford Police Department had not publicly announced whether or not Teeter was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.

“Typically, officers are placed on a brief paid administrative leave or a no contact assignment pending the outcome of any investigation involving the use of deadly force,” Bowman said. “The status of the officer is not clear and should be made clear by the town of West Hartford.”

West Hartford town officials declined comment on Tuesday, directing Connecticut Public to an Aug. 11 statement. Police Chief Vernon Riddick referred questions to the Connecticut’s Office of the Inspector General, which is conducting a review of the shooting. The Inspector General’s office declined comment, citing the pending investigation.

Bowman said Alexander-Garcia’s body was sent out-of-state for an independent autopsy with the help of the Autopsy Initiative, an arm of a nonprofit founded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The body has since been returned to the family, who intend to hold a memorial service for the Alexander-Garcia, Bowman said.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.

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