Gail Hardy authored a surprising twist Monday to her reappointment as lead prosecutor for the Hartford Judicial District.
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Before a vote in a virtual meeting on whether Hardy would serve another term, the Hartford state’s attorney who was criticized for her handling of police use-of-force investigations told the state Criminal Justice Commission that she no longer wanted to be considered for reappointment.
“During the course of our executive session, the chief state’s attorney received a letter from State’s Attorney Hardy indicating that she was withdrawing her application for consideration to reappointment,” announced commission chair and Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald.
McDonald then said Hardy would stay on until a replacement is found.
Hardy didn’t say anything about the letter when she spoke before the executive session, thanking those who testified in support of her reappointment.
“These are people who know Gail Hardy and know Gail Hardy’s work,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate that after being punished for delaying those reports, that this is something that is going to tarnish my entire career.”
Earlier this month, Hardy was suspended for four business days without pay, something McDonald said was unprecedented. It was a disciplinary action for Hardy’s slow response in investigating several police shootings.
At one point in 2019, Hardy had yet to close five use-of-force investigations, including four that were at least seven years old. She closed four of them -- the shooting deaths of Joseph Bak (March 3, 2008, in Hartford), Taurean Wilson (Jan. 10, 2009, in East Hartford), Edmanuel Reyes (May 19, 2011, in Manchester) and Ernesto Morales (July 11, 2012, in Hartford). But that came after then-Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane recommended to the commission that a meeting take place to consider disciplinary action regarding her management of the cases.
Hardy said that each fatal shooting was justified and that no further action was required in any of the cases.
The last investigation she oversaw was of the shooting death of Anthony Jose Vega Cruz by Wethersfield police officer Layau Eulizier Jr. She resolved that in March, calling Eulizier’s use of force “objectively reasonable.”
Vega Cruz’s brother Anthony Colon spoke in opposition of Hardy’s reappointment before the Criminal Justice Commission.
“She has installed false trust with my family while handling the officer-involved shooting of my younger brother who was killed in the Wethersfield shooting last year,” Colon said. “She also showed lack of responsibility on a number of occasions with communication with my family and our legal team.”
Hardy hasn’t revealed why she withdrew. Shortly after the dramatic withdrawal, the state Division of Criminal Justice announced that Hardy would be reassigned to lead the division’s diversity initiative.
“I’m excited that State’s Attorney Hardy has agreed to take on this important new role in leading the Division of Criminal Justice’s efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion in our workforce and greater outreach to the community,” Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo said in a statement. “I’m excited to work with State’s Attorney Hardy in her new role.”
Hardy was Connecticut’s first Black state’s attorney.
In the same virtual meeting, the fate of Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt played out differently. Her reappointment was confirmed with just one dissenting vote.
That came from Reginald Dwayne Betts, who criticized Platt for protecting a prosecutor in her office in 2011. Betts accused Platt of shielding Terence Mariani Jr., whose closing argument comments about a defendant in a murder case led to an appellate court ordering a new trial.
Betts wanted her to do more than what she did, which was to order him to undergo counseling.
Platt defended her actions, saying that she “changed behavior” and enacted a zero tolerance policy in the wake of the Mariani incident.
The investigation most linked to Platt’s name involved the death of 15-year-old Jayson Negron. Platt cleared Bridgeport police officer James Boulay in her 2018 report, saying he was justified in the shooting of Negron after a brief chase in which the teen was driving a stolen car.
Commission chair McDonald asked Platt if there was anything she’d have done differently in developing the report.
“I don’t think I could have done it any quicker,” Platt said. “I don’t think I could’ve released any more information. I don’t think I could’ve met with the family anymore.”
“Those reports are difficult, and I don’t say they’re difficult because of the amount of work that goes into them -- which is extraordinary,” she said. “I say they’re difficult because you’re dealing with a tragic situation.”
The Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union opposed Platt’s reappointment because of decision-making in police use-of-force investigations. In particular, ACLU-CT representatives disagree with her choosing not to look at Tasers as deadly weapons.