EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The State’s Attorney has ruled the deadly force used by two East Hartford police officers while responding to a domestic violence incident was justified.
On Sept. 5, 2019, East Hartford officer Andre Lyew reported to the home of John Carras on a report of an ongoing domestic dispute. On an open 911 call, Carras could be heard threatening the victim, telling them they were going to die. Upon arrival, the officer saw Carras strangling a victim, who was lying on the floor.
The officer asked Carras multiple times to let go of the victim and had to threaten to shoot him before he complied.
The officer instructed Carras to go out to the back deck and lay down on his stomach with his hands away from his body, and he complied.
Officer Lyew directed a male neighbor standing by to go into the house to check on the victim – later identified to be Carras’ wife.
Officer Daniel Zaleski arrived on the scene and both he and Officer Lyew decided to handcuff Carras. As they tried to put handcuffs on Carras, Carras jumped up and punched Officer Zaleski several times, put him in a headlock, and tried to get Zaleski’s firearm.
Officer Lyew drew and deployed his taser as Carras turned from assaulting Officer Zaleski and rushed toward Lyew. The taser did not affect Mr. Carras, according to the report.
Carras punched Lyew in the head and then tried to throw Officer Zaleski off of the deck.
Officer Lyew unholstered his firearm and warned Carras he would shoot if he did not stop.
Carras rushed at Officer Lyew with both fists clenched while screaming. Officer Lyew then fired five shots at Carras until he stopped moving toward him. Officer Zaleski fired his weapon once at Carras after hearing gunshots.
Carras was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Carras’ wife was also transported to the hospital. She survived but sustained serious injuries.
The two officers were transported to the hospital with multiple non-life-threatening injuries.
At the time of the incident, East Hartford police neither had body cameras nor dash camera videos.
Officer Lyew believed his life and Officer Zaleski’s life would have been in danger if Carras assaulted him and disarmed him, which caused Lyew to used deadly force on Carras. The State’s Attorney found Officer Lyew’s belief reasonable in light of all of the evidence, therefore justified.
Officer Zaleski believed the use of deadly force was needed to defend himself and Officer Lyew from Carras, who was about to use deadly physical force. The State’s Attorney found Officer Zaleski’s belief reasonable in light of all of the evidence, therefore justified.
Carras was a high school psychologist at Berlin Public Schools.