NAACP, Family Question Circumstances Of Redding Lawyer's Death

REDDING, Conn. – The death of Redding lawyer Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela, who was found dead in his car of a gunshot wound last year, is the subject of an investigation launched by the state NAACP and the Norwalk branch of the NAACP.

Abe Dabela's sister, surrounding by NAACP members from across the state, discusses the investigation into the Redding man's death.
Abe Dabela's sister, surrounding by NAACP members from across the state, discusses the investigation into the Redding man's death. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

The body of Dabela, 35, was found in his car after a motor vehicle accident less than a mile from his house on April 5, 2014. The gunshot wound to the back of his head was ruled a suicide by the Office of the Medical Examiner in October 2014. However, Dabela’s family and NAACP officials believe that there are still many questions surrounding his death, and are now seeking answers.

“We’re not here on a witch hunt, we’re just striving to get justice,” said Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile. One of the biggest questions about Dabela’s death is why police issued a press release hours after the body was discovered, calling the death a suicide, Esdaile said.

The NAACP has put together a committee of members who will be talking with police and people in the community to find out more about what happened. The committee will be led by Norwalk Branch President Darnell Crosland and will include NAACP presidents and members from Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, New London and Waterbury.

Crosland said that Dabela was a young and ambitious attorney who should not have had reason to kill himself.

“We don’t plan to rush to judgment, we plan to take our time, to review all the information before us, to have a think tank that’s worthy of this community. And at the end of it, if there’s a conclusion that nothing was amiss, we’ll be ready and willing to announce that. However, if we find there’s some protocols that weren’t followed, some things that need to be changed, we’re going to address those issues appropriately,” Crosland said.

“We can’t do this alone, and I think all of you will sleep better at night knowing what happened here. This is not something we should brush under the rug and go along business as usual,” he said.

One of Dabela’s sisters, who identified herself only as “G,” said that her brother lived life to the fullest and enjoyed riding his motorcycle and engaging people in spirited debates. She said he was excited about an upcoming motorcycle trip and recent success with his newly incorporated legal practice.

“Today, 16 months into this investigation, we believe Abe did not commit suicide and humbly ask the public to assist us to find the truth and get justice for Abe,” she said.

The investigation did not substantiate suicide, and none of his DNA was found on the trigger of the gun at the scene, she said.

State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky released a statement Thursday saying that the Redding Police Department, state police, the Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection Forensic Science Laboratory and the Office of the State’s Attorney have been actively working on the case for more than a year. He expressed condolences to the Dabela family and said he understands their concerns.

“That said, we must note that it is not unusual for investigations such as this to take some time before a final determination can be made about the circumstance of the death,” he said.

He said his office has been in contact with the family and their attorney, and that the Redding Police Department has been cooperative with the family’s expert.

“We will continue to listen to the concerns and to provide them with information to the extent possible while maintaining the integrity of the investigation.”

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