State's Attorney finds officers' use of deadly force reasonable in February 2019 violent chase

Two state troopers, two Willimantic police officers and a Norwich officer were found to have acted “reasonably” in the use of deadly force against a Hartford man who was killed by police after he had led police on a multi-town, high-speed chase, firing at police and civilians in his attempt to flee from a reported attempted break-in at a Norwich apartment building.

Middlesex District State’s Attorney Michael A. Gailor released a detailed report Friday on the 45-minute rampage — with links to police and civilian video footage and dispatch audio recordings, interviews with officers involved — clearing the officers involved in the death of Kyron Marcell Sands, 39, of Hartford in the Feb. 20, 2019 incident.

“Mr. Sands’ death was a tragedy and I, on behalf of the Division of Criminal Justice, extend our condolences to his family and friends,” Gailor wrote in the conclusion of his report. “In the situation presented, however, the officers’ actions in firing upon Mr. Sands were justified. Mr. Sands initiated the use of deadly physical force by firing upon an officer in Norwich. In trying to avoid apprehension, he stole two cars at gunpoint, attempted to steal several others, and fired at civilians. He then led police on a high speed chase only to exit the car with a gun and fire at the officers at that scene. At no time, did Mr. Sands surrender to authorities or demonstrate that he was no longer a threat to use deadly physical force. The Division of Criminal Justice will take no further action with regard to this incident.”

Barbara Sands, Kyron's mother, declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.

According to Gailor’s report, the incident started with a call to Norwich police that a man was attempting to break into the first-floor apartment at 228 Broad St. at 10:48 a.m. Feb. 20, 2019. Three Norwich police officers, including Officer Christopher Nott, responded. Nott attempted to stop Sands as he exited the front door of the building and chased Sands as he ran down the street.

Sands turned and fired a shot at Nott, which missed, and Nott then fired seven rounds at Sands, apparently missing Sands. At the intersection of Broad and Baltic streets, Sands stopped a car occupied by three women and ordered them out of the vehicle at gunpoint.

As he fled at high speeds, police pursued the Toyota Camry into Lisbon, where they lost sight of the car. The report said Sands got out of that car, leaving it running on Preston Allen Road and attempted to carjack another vehicle, but the driver accelerated and fled.

Police used K-9 units to track Sands on foot down an embankment toward Interstate 395 South. On the highway, Sands attempted to steal several cars at gunpoint, firing and striking the tire of one vehicle and stopping another vehicle and ordering the female driver out at gunpoint. Sands drove away southbound in the white Ford Edge located by state Trooper Robert Maurice and pursued as Sands exited onto Route 2 East in Norwich and immediately got back onto the I-395 on-ramp.

Sands got off the highway in Yantic at Exit 14 and drove through at least one red light onto Route 32 north toward Windham. The report said chase speeds exceeded 100 mph and state police used stop sticks on Route 32 in Windham. Sands' vehicle swerved to the right after hitting the stop sticks, went airborne, struck trees and crashed. Sands’ head struck the windshield and airbags deployed. But Sands managed to climb out a rear passenger door.

State troopers and Willimantic police officers ordered Sands to show his hands. The report said Sands ignored them, ran to a residence at 12 Old Plains Road, still holding a pistol. He raised the gun pointed at the officers, and Willimantic officer Jonathan Lisee fired eight rounds at Sands. Trooper Maurice fired four rounds at Sands, and Willimantic police Corporal Keith Edele fired one shot at Sands.

Sands continued to run, and the report said he attempted to break into the rear door of the home at 12 Old Plains Road. The occupant locked the rear door and went to the front of the house. Two men working on a barn in the yard also witnessed the encounter.

The report said Sands had dropped his pistol in the driveway of the home, but officers were unaware of that, and believed he still carried the gun to the back porch. Police continued to order Sands to surrender, the report said. At the rear of the house, Trooper Maurice fired three more rounds, and Corporal Edele fired two shots. Trooper Gregory DeCarli fired one shot.

Sands got up from the porch and ran toward the barn. Trooper DeCarli fired one shot, and Trooper Maurice also fired one shot. Sands fell face down and was placed in handcuffs. A state trooper and a Willimantic police officer performed first aid on Sands’ wounds as emergency medical crews were called. Paramedics found him unresponsive and he was declared dead.

An autopsy conducted by Deputy Chief State Medical Examiner Dr. Maura DeJoseph found that Sands had been struck seven times, including in the right cheek, left rear torso, left shoulder twice, the right rear torso and right index finger.

Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley said he was relieved that the actions of the Norwich officers were found to be appropriate. Officer Nott, a seven-year Norwich police veteran, had been placed on administrative leave for a short time after the incident, but returned to duty as a patrol officer, Daley said.

Daley also expressed condolences to Sands' family and said it was "a blessing" that no civilians were hurt during the high-speed chase and shooting.

Willimantic Police Chief Robert Rosado could not be reached for comment Friday.

c.bessette@theday.com

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