Officer was justified in fatal shooting

Waterford - A Waterford officer who fatally shot a 27-year-old man during a domestic incident last year was justified in using deadly force, according to a report by the New London State's Attorney.

The report, released Thursday by the Chief State's Attorney's office, said the use of deadly force was appropriate because of the imminent danger Desjon J. Edwards posed during the June incident.

Officer Matthew Fedor shot Edwards twice in the back after Edwards stabbed Officer Robert Yuchniuk during a domestic disturbance at Edwards' 8 Windy Ridge Place home.

"Officer Fedor reasonably believed that the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend himself and others from the use of deadly physical force," Michael Regan, the state's attorney for New London, wrote in his report. "The use of deadly physical force was, therefore, appropriate."

Just after 10 p.m. June 8, Fedor, Yuchniuk and Sgt. Edward Lougee responded to a 911 call from Edward's girlfriend, Allison Forte, for an "out-of-control male" at the home.

Edwards' mother, Lisa Edwards, was also home. His mother told police that he had a substance-abuse problem and left Natchaug Hospital where he was seeking treatment earlier that day.

Forte told police he had been drinking a lot and threatened her, according to the report.

The report said that when Lougee arrived he saw Fedor standing at the bottom of a staircase talking to Edwards who was at the top of the stairs. As Edwards backed into a small room a knife fell out of his hand and landed in the doorway.

That's when Fedor fired his Taser at Edwards, but it had no effect, according to the report. Yuchniuk also fired his Taser. It, too, had no effect.

Lougee then saw Edwards pick up the knife and charge across the hallway toward Yuchniuk.

Yuchniuk retreated to the kitchen. Edwards followed. He stabbed Yuchniuk in the left arm.

"Officer Fedor yelled at Desjon Edwards to drop the knife. Sgt. Lougee saw Desjon Edwards stab Officer Yuchniuk and heard Officer Yuchniuk cry 'he got me,'" Regan wrote in the report. "As Sgt. Lougee was raising his firearm to shoot Desjon Edwards, Officer Fedor discharged two rounds from his firearm."

Yuchniuk received stitches and was treated at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

Edwards was pronounced dead at L&M about four hours after the incident.

Waterford police detectives and investigators from the New London state's attorney office responded for the investigation.

Detectives found that three of the Taser barbs had missed Edwards and only one had hit him in the side of his face, according to the report.

Later at the scene, Lisa Edwards told Detective Edward DeLaura that her son had consumed "a ton" of alcohol that day and suffered from depression and anxiety for which he had been prescribed Prozac.

"She stated that he had been acting crazy since he began taking the Prozac," according to the report.

Family members said Edwards was a father of two and a 1999 graduate of Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton.

Edwards' uncle, James Startz, said the family realizes that there was imminent danger, but were still trying to understand how Edwards was able to arm himself.

"Obviously this was a big loss for us," Startz said. "It's not that it got to the point where they had to do something. It's how did it get to that point ... You knew you were going in to a hostile situation. It seems like at some point some protocol was missed."

Fedor, who was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, returned to duty about 30 days later after going through protocol established by the department and union, said Chief Murray Pendleton.

"I'm pleased that the issue has been looked at … and a finding has been provided for both the officer and his family and hopefully we can move on and … learn from what occurred," he said.

Investigators from the New London State's Attorney office and state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad investigated the shooting.


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