Body camera footage released of Bristol ambush, but suspect’s toxicology report pending

Toxicology results are still pending on the suspect who ambushed three Bristol police officers, according to a preliminary report issued Monday by Connecticut’s police inspector general. The update came one day after the inspector general released limited body camera footage of the attack.
“As of the date of this report, neither the death certificate nor the toxicological report is available,” wrote Inspector General Robert Devlin.
Toxicology results could shed light on the events leading up to last Wednesday’s attack. Witnesses say the suspect, Nicholas Brutcher, encountered police at a nearby bar moments before luring the officers to his home with a fake 911 call.
Sgt. Dustin DeMonte and Officer Alex Hamzy were killed, reportedly with an AR15-style rife. Officer Alec Iurato was injured but survived.
On Sunday, Devlin released a two-minute clip from Iurato’s body camera. It begins seconds after Iurato was shot in the leg. As the officer runs for cover, you can hear dozens of rapid-fire shots and a woman screaming. After crouching behind a police cruiser, the footage shows Iurato killing the suspect with one shot to the neck.
“Although some details of the investigation remain to be determined, it is evident from the evidence collected so far that Officer Iurato’s use of deadly force was justified,” Devlin wrote on Sunday.
Under a 2019 state law, if an officer uses deadly force, body camera footage must be released within four days. The idea behind the law was transparency, according to Mike Lawlor, a former criminal justice advisor to Gov. Dannel Malloy.
"Providing a lot of information very quickly -- actual videotape or police reports or audio recordings -- tends to diffuse a fair amount of [rumors]," he said. "Now that people have seen this video, you get a clear idea of how horrific this scene was."
The 2019 law was a response to two deadly police shootings in Wethersfield and Hamden. But it was controversial. Opponents argued that four days is too soon to release video in an ongoing investigation.
"And then, lo and behold, there is additional video recordings available,” said state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck), during legislative debate in June 2019.
The law lets the officer review video before it's made public. Existing state law also allows footage to be withheld if it shows “a scene of an incident that involves … a victim of homicide or suicide … if disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
That’s why Devlin only released a two-minute clip and withheld footage from DeMonte and Hamzy’s body cameras. The video does not show how the shooting began, but Lawlor says it shows enough.
"If the officer involved reasonably believed he, or others, were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, that is justified,” said Lawlor. “And that's what you see on that videotape."