Police were justified in fatally shooting a Berlin High School psychologist during a domestic violence incident, according to state law officials.
John J. Carras was shot to death on Sept. 5, 2019, in his East Hartford home, by two police officers who were responding to a report of domestic violence.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Windham announced that the officers had been cleared of any wrongdoing. She also issued copies of witness and police reports surrounding the incident as well as a timeline of the investigation.
Through the reports, a storyline of what happened on Sept. 5 comes together.
On that day, according to court documents, Carras experienced “intense jealousy” when he discovered a text on Victim One’s phone. Because this is a domestic violence incident, Carras’ victims are identified only as Victims One, Two, and Three.
He began to argue with Victime One and strike her. She tried to escape the home from the deck door off the kitchen, but Carras dragged her back inside, kicking and screaming, the Windham State Attorney’s Office said.
At that time, Victims Two and Three, who are juveniles, attempted to call 911, but Carras knocked the phones from their hands. One of the lines remained open to 911 and police responded. On the open line, Carras could be heard telling Victim One she was “done” and “going to die,” court documents said. A female voice could be heard screaming “get help now.”
Victims Two and Three left the home to find help. A neighbor, Tim Macfarlane, went to help the children. Macfarlane entered the home and saw Carras on the ground next to Victim One who was “squirming, but not making any noise,” court records said. Carras was strangling Victim One. Carras told Macfarlane everything was fine and to leave. Macfarlane said he was going to call the police. Carras said, “go ahead.”
East Hartford Police Officer Andre Lyew was the first to arrive on the scene at 6:23 p.m. When Lyew went inside he saw Carras strangling Victim One, whose face had turned purple and appeared lifeless.
Lyew pointed his gun at Carras and ordered him to get off Victim One. Carras looked up briefly but continued his stranglehold. Lyew said he would shoot, and Carras got off Victim One. Carras raised his hands over his head and Lyew ordered him to go outside onto the deck off the kitchen and get on his stomach with his arms away from his body. Carras did this, court documents said.
Less than 10 minutes after Lyew arrived, Officer Daniel Zaleski was at the house. He ran up the deck stairs and Lyew told Zaleski he had Carras covered. Lyew told Zaleski to place handcuffs on Carras. That’s when Carras brought his legs under him, jumped up, and punched Zaleski in the face several times, according to court records. Carras put Zaleski in a headlock.
Lyew drew his Taser and shot it at Carras. The Taser connected, but “did not have the intended effect of stopping” Carras. Lyew then partially blocked a punch Carras threw at his head and was knocked back. Lyew saw Carras try to throw Zaleski over the deck, which was about 10 feet above the ground.
Lyew dropped his Taser and pulled his gun. Carras rushed Lyew and Lyew shot Carras five times. Zaleski also fired a shot. As he dropped to the ground, Carras said "thank you," according to court records.
At 7:03 p.m., Carras was pronounced dead.
Victim One was transported to the hospital where she was treated for serious physical injuries and lived.
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