An Ansonia police officer who shot a man accused of running into him with a vehicle in February returned to light duty this month.
But Officer Joseph Jackson won’t be patrolling the city’s streets again until state police complete an investigation.
Meanwhile, the man Jackson shot appeared at Superior Court in Derby Monday (June 30), where a judge ordered him to provide a DNA sample to state police investigating the case — which may lead to additional charges being filed against him.
Jackson was on patrol downtown Saturday, Feb. 1, when a motorist flagged him down in the area of Main and Maple streets about 2 p.m.
The motorist told Jackson a man had just gotten into a crash with another vehicle at the other end of the Maple Street bridge and was trying to drive away from the scene.
Jackson stopped the driver, Maurice “Mo” Beall, 33, who got out of his vehicle to speak with Jackson.
But then Beall suddenly tried to get back into his car, and tried to get something inside, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Gaetano said in court Monday.
Jackson and Beall grappled with one another briefly before Beall got back into his car and tried to drive away, Gaetano said.
Jackson got in front of Beall’s car to prevent it from leaving the scene, but Beall allegedly drove the vehicle at Jackson, hitting him in the hip and leg as the officer fired three shots at the car.
Beall was struck in the left arm and abdomen but managed to leave the scene before being found in Derby, in the area of E. Ninth and Hawkins streets.
Also found in Derby — a blood-stained handgun.
Necessary Evidence Or ‘Fishing Expedition’?
Beall appeared before Judge Barbara Brazzel-Massaro at Superior Court in Derby Monday, where Gaetano asked that he be compelled to provide state police with a DNA sample by swabbing his cheek.
Judges can order defendants to provide such samples as long as they believe there’s probable cause to believe that the evidence sought may be “of material aid” in determining whether the person is guilty of committing the offenses with which he’s charged, and also that the evidence sought “cannot practicably be obtained from other sources.”
Beall’s lawyer, Gregory Cerritelli, objected to Gaetano’s request, saying the state was using it as a “fishing expedition” in an effort to bring additional gun possession charges against Beall.
In addition to possible new weapons charges in the state case, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon is also a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Cerritelli also pointed out that Beall has several prior felony convictions on his record — and would have been required to provide a sample of his DNA to a state database after those prior convictions.
The lawyer called Gaetano’s request “disingenuous at best.”
The prosecutor disagreed, saying the DNA sample couldn’t be obtained practicably.
“It’s not a fishing expedition, these are serious felony charges,” he told Judge Brazzel-Massaro.
The judge then called Matthew Reilly, a state police detective who was at court Monday to collect Beall’s DNA sample, to the witness stand.
Reilly testified that cops couldn’t use the prior sample of Beall’s DNA because of a “chain of custody issue” at the state’s forensic lab — state cops can’t be sure who took the prior swab, who delivered it to the lab, and “whose hands it may have passed through.”
Reilly also said the law prevented lab personnel from identifying DNA samples there without a search warrant.
Cerritelli asked whether state cops wanted the DNA sample “to investigate whether or not the firearm that was recovered may or may not be linked to (Beall).”
“That’s part of it,” Reilly responded, adding later that state police were still working on a “use of force” investigation of the shooting.
Cerritelli later asked how DNA matches are made for unsolved crimes.
Reilly said unknown samples from crime scenes are run through the database. In the event of a match, cops obtain search warrants to get a new, “confirmatory” DNA sample from whoever the DNA matches.
The lawyer then asked the judge to deny Gaetano’s request.
“I can’t believe that the state takes a swab from someone, requires a felon to submit to submit to a swab, then the evidence can’t be used later on in a context like this,” he said. “It’s just mind-boggling to me. I think the evidence could be obtained through another source.”
But the judge granted the prosecutor’s motion.
The judge said the DNA sample would be relevant to the charges Beall already faces — as well as the investigation into whether the shooting was justified — adding it was speculative for Cerritelli to argue his client will face new charges if there’s a match.
She then continued the case to July 29.
Beall has been held on bonds totaling $105,000 on charges of second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, assault on a public safety officer, driving without a license, and evading responsibility.
Beall also faces more than seven years behind bars on a probation violation charge connected to a 2010 drug dealing charge.
Officer On Light Duty
Meanwhile, Jackson has been back in uniform for three weeks — albeit on “light duty” doing administrative and clerical work, pending the completion of the state police investigation, Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale said Friday (June 27).
Hale said Jackson, a popular cop who has received several life-saving awards from the department over the years, was justified in firing at Beall.
But the ultimate decision will rest with Milford State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor, once the state police finish their investigation and submit it to him.
“Certainly we’d want to get him back sooner rather than later,” Hale said, adding that the department will review his “injury status” when the state police investigation is complete.
Lawlor said Friday once the state police are finished with their probe he’ll review it and issue a report with a ruling on Jackson’s use of force.