By Katrina Koerting |
Redding, CT — Launching its investigation into the death of a Redding man last year, the Connecticut NAACP announced Wednesday it had a lot of questions concerning the incident and the investigation, including whether the Redding Police Department rushed to judgment.
Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela, 35, was found in his overturned car on April 5, 2014, around 1:40 a.m. with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. The medical examiner’s office ruled it a suicide, but members of the NAACP and Dabela’s family consider it suspicious and said they doubt he killed himself.
Presidents of the state NAACP and the Norwalk branch held a press conference Wednesday evening on the town green, with Dabela’s two sisters and parents, to announce their own formal investigation into Dabela’s death. The family has hired forensic professionals and attorneys to look into Dabela’s death. The case is still under investigation by the state’s attorney’s office in Danbury.
“For 16 months, we have been trapped in this nightmare, bereft of answers and besieged by questions,” said one of Dabela’s sisters who didn’t want to be named. “We know Abe, and as Abe would, we believe the truth will be revealed through facts, forensic evidence and rigorous analysis.”
She said he moved to Redding in 2011 to open his own law practice and was excited about life, his family, friends and clients. He grew up in Bethesda, Md.
“He enjoyed life to the fullest, whether embarking on a journey to every state by motorcycle, which he enthusiastically shared with friends and family on social media, or starting a spirited debate on hot topics such as the importance of the Second Amendment to maintain peace and order,” she said.
Before he died, he had distributed business cards for his new firm and had been happily mingling with friends, she said.
After the conference, Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said it was clear that Dabela’s family was still grieving.
“We are hopeful any further investigation along with the state attorney’s investigation can finally put this very tragic incident to bed so the family can find peace,” she said.
Pemberton said she and Police Chief Doug Fuchs were happy to cooperate with the investigation and welcomed the NAACP to town.
“We absolutely believe the family deserves answers to what happened to their son and their brother,” she said.
She added that she was concerned one of the NAACP leaders’ references to “murder” during the press conference meant the NAACP had rushed to judgment as well.
The NAACP leaders never formally said what they believed happened to Dabela, and whether it was a homicide or suicide — only that the investigation would answer this question.
However, when Darnell D. Crosland, the Norwalk branch president, asked people to offer information, he told a crowd of at least 50, “If there’s a murder like this in your town, in your neighboring town, this should concern you.”
He added to the group of NAACP supporters and town residents, “I think all of you will sleep better knowing what happened.”
One of the biggest questions the NAACP has is why a press release was sent five hours after Dabela’s death saying, “At this time it does not appear that there is anyone else involved in this incident and that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted,” adding that the medical examiner would conduct an autopsy.
The press release doesn’t have a release time on it, and in an interview last month, Fuchs said his computer showed the Word document for the release was created in the afternoon of April 5.
Crosland, the NAACP committee chairman for the investigation, said it was his understanding that Fuchs wrote the release right after the incident and left it on his desk with instructions to send it out in the morning.
The NAACP became involved when Dabela’s family shared the information they had gathered and the questions they had. A committee of attorneys, former police officers, NAACP branch presidents and former board members for the ACLU will investigate for the NAACP. A timeline for the investigation hasn’t been set.
After the press conference, Crosland said the family and the committee didn’t have suspects, but said he “had some theories.”
He said the 911 call was suspicious because the caller, who he identified as “Chase,” was part of the same circle as Dabela but didn’t stay on the scene after calling in the rolled-over car. Crosland also questioned why Dabela’s landlord began packing up Dabela’s possessions right after his death.
Dabela’s sister said the investigation revealed his DNA wasn’t on the trigger of the gun found at the scene.
Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile said the police told the family Dabela killed himself because he was embarrassed he wrecked his car, which he said he and the family didn’t believe was something Dabela would do.
Committee members will be visiting places with significance to the case, and speaking with people who might know something about Dabela’s death over the coming months. They asked people with information to call 860-523-9962 or email email@example.com. The investigation can be tracked on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #Justice4Abe.
A website, www.justice4abe.com, is to be launched soon and will contain the family’s questions.
Esdaile said although the NAACP was involved, it didn’t mean race was an issue.
“We’re not here on a witch hunt,” he said. “We’re just trying to get justice.”
Source: News Times
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