WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Relatives raised questions Monday about the police killing of a man who was trying to escape in a stolen car after an officer and police dog climbed in and the K-9 attacked.
As Connecticut’s Office of Inspector General investigates the West Hartford police shooting of Mike Alexander-Garcia, his relatives and their lawyers said they believe it wasn’t justified.
“The use of deadly force in this situation was unnecessary, excessive and irresponsible,” attorney Ken Krayeske said at a news conference. He and another lawyer for the family, Peter Billings, suggested that the officer escalated the situation and didn’t give Alexander-Garcia clear instructions about how he could avoid being shot.
West Hartford police haven’t immediately commented on the family’s contentions. In a statement last week, Chief Vernon L. Riddick said that “a dangerous situation” led up to the shooting and that the department “believes strongly in transparency and in all facts being gathered and impartially evaluated.”
Authorities said police were chasing Alexander-Garcia Aug. 8 after he fled from a crashed and stolen car, tried to carjack two other vehicles, dashed into a tire shop and hopped into a sport utility vehicle that was being serviced.
According to surveillance, dashboard and body-camera video: A police dog leaped into the SUV through a window, and Officer Andrew Teeter opened the door and got in. The dog bit Alexander-Garcia as he sat behind the steering wheel yelling “help me!” and “officer, please!”
The SUV backed out of the service bay, turned, glanced off a parked police cruiser and a tree and began to drive off. After yelling “don’t do it” and “I’m going to shoot you,” Teeter fired several shots into Alexander-Garcia’s back.
The SUV ultimately crashed into a utility pole.
The inspector general’s office said Teeter suffered a broken rib and cuts on his head.
Sheelynashary Alexander-Garcia told reporters Monday that her 34-year-old brother struggled with substance abuse but had hopes for his future.
“I’m not standing here defending his actions. But he wasn’t a bad person,” she said at Monday’s news conference. “We want justice. We want the truth about what happened to Mike.”