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Family of suspect killed in Willimantic police shooting speaks out

News 8 Exclusive

The family of a Norwich man who was shot dead Wednesday by police is speaking only to News 8.

Investigators said 39-year-old Kyron Sands led them on a wild chase through multiple jurisdictions.

Officers also tell us at times, Sands fired shots at other drivers and pursuing officers before the chase ended in nearby Willimantic.

“It’s still hard to process it right now,” said longtime friend Leonard Miller.

Devin Johnson said he’s known Sands so long he considers him a brother. “He was battling mental health issues and it was strong mental health issues,” he said.

Felicia Delaurentis is first cousins with Sands. She told News 8’s Mario Boone the man was a paranoid schizophrenic who was off his medication and having a breakdown.

“They knew the situation with him,” Delaurentis said, referring to the police department’s familiarity with Sands. “It should’ve been dealt with differently.”

We asked Norwich police about that claim. A spokesman declined to comment.

Betty Fromerth lives below Sands in the 200 block of Broad Street. She made the initial call to police after she says Sands tried to bust into her apartment.

Related Content: Officials ID man killed following car chase, officer-involved shooting in Willimantic

“He was, I guess, high on something,” Fromerth said. “He was really whacked out. He kicked in this door inside.”  

And that’s when she says the violence escalated. “He was shooting randomly going down the backstairs. Then, when he saw the police, he started shooting at them.”

To be clear, Sands has a lengthy criminal history, including a 2015 guilty plea for assaulting a police officer.

“He was getting better,” said Miller, the longtime friend. “He was a work in progress.”

His family said they do not condone what he’s accused of, if true. But they do question police tactics in dealing with mentally ill suspects.

“If I know somebody has a mental health issue, I’m going to deal with that person according to their mental health issue,” said Miller.

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