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State's Attorney: Wethersfield officer "justified" using deadly force after pursuit

The incident happened in April 2019 when 18-year-old Anthony Vega-Cruz drove off from a traffic stop
Wethersfield shooting

The State's Attorney's office reported Wednesday that Wethersfield police officer Layau Eulizier was justified in his use of force last Spring. 

Eulizier, an Air Force veteran who joined Wethersfield police in August 2018, shot and killed 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz in Wethersfield on April 20, 2019 when Vega Cruz drove his car at the officer while trying to flee a traffic stop, police said. A passenger, Vega Cruz's 18-year-old girlfriend, was not injured.

Wethersfield police tried to pull Anthony Vega-Cruz over at about 6 p.m. that Saturday because his license plates didn’t match his car, and they thought it may have been stolen, according to police accounts.

Vega Cruz’s family said the car was not registered.

Police say Vega Cruz crashed into a cruiser and then drove toward an Officer Eulizier on foot, who opened fire. The teen was struck in the head, according to his family.

An 18-year-old woman who was in Vega Cruz’s car was not charged, police said.

The shooting drew outrage from community members and advocates. 

The Cruz family attorney responded to the decision in a statement in part,

“We are outraged that the officer will not face charges, but we remain hopeful that we will help the Cruz family find justice in civil court. 

The ACLU also released a statement calling the decision shameful. 

Eulizier previously served as a police officer for the Manchester Police Department from September 2014, to August 2018. On August 14, 2015, while a Manchester officer, Officer Eulizier was involved in a deadly officer-involved shooting in Bolton.

According to the State’s Attorney, the suspect waved a knife at responding officers, and Bolton Resident State Trooper Brian Contenta and Officer Eulizier discharged their firearms in defense.

RELATED: Lawyer, family of victim in Wethersfield shooting speak out

RELATED: First on FOX61: Video shows Eulizier in Manchester traffic stop

RELATED: AP: Wethersfield officer who killed driver worried past bosses