SUFFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Connecticut State’s Attorney has determined that the Suffield police officer who shot and killed a West Springfield man during a traffic stop earlier this year was justified in using deadly force.
According to a report by the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Middlesex Peter A. McShane, Suffield Police Officer Richard Devin acted appropriately when he fired his service weapon, killing 57-year-old Thomas N. Gezotis, Jr., of West Springfield, on April 13,2017.
“I am pleased with the findings of the external and independent investigation conducted by the Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney’s Office into the officer involved shooting that occurred on April 13, 2017 in the Town of Suffield,” Suffield Police Department’s Chief of Police Richard Brown said in a statement to 22News. “As expected, the State’s Attorney’s Office found that Suffield Police Officer Richard Devin was legally justified in using deadly physical force to defend himself and others around him during this incident.”
Chief Brown added in the statement, “This incident serves as an illusion of the split second decisions that our police officers are sometimes forced to make for their safety and the safety of the public in the performance of their daily duties.”
Timeline of events outlined in report:
According to the report, Suffield police officers set up a “stakeout” near a cafe on East Street that afternoon after receiving word that a stolen vehicle out of West Springfield was parked there.
During the stakeout, a police lieutenant allegedly instructed Devin via police radio to pull over a taxi that had just pulled up to the front of the cafe and left with a passenger. Devin stopped the taxi with Gezotis inside and after confirming with the driver that he had picked him up from the cafe, allegedly asked him to get out with his hands up. According to the report, Devin described Gezotis’ facial appearance as strange and almost crazed.
Gezotis allegedly began to get out of the minivan taxi with his hands up, but dropped them as Devin came around the back. The report states that Devin said he saw Gezotis pulling up his shirt with one hand and grabbing at the butt of what appeared to be a black pistol with the other. Gezotis then allegedly pulled out the weapon and pointed it at Devin as he walked toward him, according to the report.
The officer allegedly began shooting at Gezotis after he saw his gun hand move up and down quickly as if the weapon was recoiling as a result of him firing it. Devin continued firing at Gezotis until he dropped to the ground, according to the report.
Gezotis’ weapon was later determined to be a black Crossman Vigilante .177-caliber 4.5-mm airsoft gun, which McShane says strongly resembles a large caliber handgun.
He later died at the hospital from gunshot wounds.
McShane said Gezotis was later identified as the man who robbed a bank in Enfield earlier that morning. He said Gezotis was identified as the man who robbed the bank through surveillance photos and evidence that was allegedly found inside the stolen car and on his person.