NEWTOWN, Conn. — The off-duty police officer who shot and killed a bear in Newtown in May won't be facing any criminal charges, an investigation concluded.
An investigation by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) into the May 12 incident that left two bear cubs orphaned found that Lawrence Clarke had numerous encounters with the same bear over multiple days that caused him to fear for his family and his livestock.
The State's Attorney's Office concluded there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against Clarke.
The bear was known as "Bobbi the Bear," and she was easily identifiable by her ear tags and was popular among local residents, who posted sightings of her on Facebook. Community members would post photos of Bobbi stopping by backyards in the Redding, Bethel and Newtown area, and would recognize her by her tag: No. 217.
In coordination with the Danbury State's Attorney's office, the Environmental Conservation Police reviewed reports about "Bobbi" from 2017 until the shooting, and determined she showed signs of "habituation".
There are records of "Bobbi" having 175 human interactions in the Southbury, Redding and Newtown areas, and based on all these interactions, they found the bear had lost its fear of humans and learned to associate humans with sources of food.
Ridgefield police confirmed one of their officers who was off-duty at the time was involved in the shooting.
Bears are protected in Connecticut; there is no right to kill a bear. There is also no articulated right to defend yourself or livestock against a bear. When a bear is killed, ECP investigates.
Due to an increase in human-bear conflicts and bears breaking into homes, further legislative clarity is needed to address bear-related incidents, DEEP said.
The May 12 incident left the bears cubs orphaned but they were relocated to a wildlife rehab facility in New Hampshire.
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