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Trooper Who Fatally Shot Milford Man Acted ‘Appropriately,’ State's Attorney Rules

State’s attorney rules on the use of deadly force in an attempted gas station robbery last October.

Trooper Who Fatally Shot Milford Man Acted ‘Appropriately,’ State's Attorney Rules
It is “a split-second decision” law enforcement has to make. In this case, the entire incident transpired in two seconds.

The Connecticut State Trooper who fatally shot a robbery suspect upon exiting the restroom of a Milford gas station Oct. 23 acted “appropriately” in his use of deadly force, a state’s attorney has ruled.

Working the graveyard shift, 15-year veteran Trooper First Class James T. Scott pulled his unmarked car into Patriot Fuels Gas Station at 719 Boston Post Road about 3:15 a.m., according to police.

“Trooper Scott removed a bottle of juice from the cooler, placed the bottle on the cashier’s counter and went to use the restroom,” State’s Attorney Kevin D. Lawlor writes in his Jan. 14 report, which cites state and local police information.

Then, according to Lawlor:

A few minutes later, Scott exited the restroom and encountered a man in a double-vented respirator mask wielding a 22-inch-long Japanese-style sword at the cashier, who was about 10 feet behind the counter.

Scott, clearly identified as a state trooper, drew his assigned pistol, pointed it at the suspect and twice demanded that he drop the blade.

The suspect, who was about nine feet away from Scott, failed to comply then started toward the state trooper “in a threatening manner.”

“This left Trooper Scott little choice in such a confined space but to make a split-second decision to use deadly force to defend himself and the cashier from the assailant,” Lawlor wrote.

One shot to the chest sent the suspect running out the front door before collapsing about 30 feet from the entrance.

Two seconds

“The entire incident, from the time Trooper Scott initially observes the perpetrator until he discharges his weapon, transpired in approximately two seconds,” Lawlor wrote.

But that’s not unusual, Lawlor noted. Statistics show that “about 90 percent of shooting incidents take place within a three-second time frame,” the state's attorney wrote.

“Attempts to shoot to wound or to injure are unrealistic and because of high-miss rates and poor stopping effectiveness can prove dangerous for police officers and others," Lawlor wrote.

The suspect, 28-year-old Matthew Lofaro of Milford, was pronounced dead on scene after unsuccessful attempts by emergency personnel to obtain a pulse.

BAC of .221

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner lists the cause of death as gunshot wound to the chest.

A toxicology report revealed that Lofaro had an elevated blood-alcohol content during the incident nearly three times the legal limit for driving at .221. The report also noted “the presence of synthetic opiate derivatives” in his system.

Police said they located Lofaro’s car parked in the motel lot next door. Found sleeping in the driver’s seat was Jonathan Cenat of West Haven, who allegedly told police Lofaro had been staying with him for several months but initially denied all knowledge about the robbery or weapon used therein.

Cenat was charged in November with conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, second-degree making a false statement and interfering with police.

No further action will be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice regarding Trooper Scott, Lawlor wrote.

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