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Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy withdraws from reappointment ahead of vote following criticisms of her handling of deadly police shooting investigations

This Oct. 24, 2019 photo shows Gail P. Hardy, Hartford State's Attorney. During a video conference call with the state's Criminal Justice Commission, Hardy acknowledged mistakes and apologized for taking years to complete reports on whether police were justified in four fatal shootings, but defended the overall job she has done amid calls for her reappointment to be rejected. (Michael McAndrews/Hartford Courant via AP)
This Oct. 24, 2019 photo shows Gail P. Hardy, Hartford State's Attorney. During a video conference call with the state's Criminal Justice Commission, Hardy acknowledged mistakes and apologized for taking years to complete reports on whether police were justified in four fatal shootings, but defended the overall job she has done amid calls for her reappointment to be rejected. (Michael McAndrews/Hartford Courant via AP) (Michael McAndrews/AP)

Hartford State’s Attorney Gail P. Hardy abruptly withdrew from seeking reappointment as the Criminal Justice Commission met Monday in executive session to discuss the matter after hours of interviews and public comment.

The commission came out of executive session Monday afternoon to vote but announced that they received a message while meeting privately that Hardy was no longer seeking reappointment.

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Hardy will continue to serve as the state’s attorney until the commission finds a replacement. Two hours after withdrawing her name from consideration, the chief state’s attorney’s office announced Hardy accepted a job as executive assistant state’s attorney leading a diversity initiative.

“It has been my privilege to serve as state’s attorney in Hartford for nearly 13 years,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am grateful for that experience and I am also looking forward to this exciting new opportunity to work on behalf of all of the people of Connecticut.”

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The commission heard from more than two dozen people Monday, a significant portion of whom, including colleagues, clergy, and members of her church, supported Hardy continuing as state’s attorney.

“Mrs. Hardy provides a daily example… for how to seek justice but remain objective,” said Jesse Giddings, a prosecutor in her office.

Giddings described his boss as a leader that “holds people accountable yet seeks justice.”

A former assistant state’s attorney, Nicole Christie, also voiced her approval of Hardy, saying she received support from Hardy as a Black prosecutor.

“She’s dedicated to the community and to justice, as evidenced in the investment she made in me,” Christie, now an attorney in private practice who attends the same church as Hardy, said Monday.

Those who spoke against Hardy voiced strong concerns with her ability to handle cases involving police violence, among other issues.

“If we allow this body of work to be approved that is the most egregious in the state, it would be OK for others to do the same. We cannot afford that,” said Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP.

Several people who spoke had lost loved ones to shootings, including two police shootings Hardy investigated, and believed that Hardy failed them and their families.

Anthony Colon, whose brother Anthony Vega Cruz was killed by a Wethersfield police officer in 2019, said he and his attorneys went to meet with Hardy on a sub-zero day but were ignored and kept outside. They called, but she did not answer until they called from an unknown number.

“She knew we were outside, she knew... she basically just left us outside,” Colon said.

Veronica Diaz said they know who killed her brother Eros last year, but will not act. She spoke as the family of a shooting victim that was also ignored. Diaz referenced police shooting reports left open by Hardy.

“What sounds like paperwork is in actuality the only closure a family has left after the murder of their loved one. This isn’t some menial task deserving a slap on the wrist. This is the murder of people in our community. If this is acceptable, what four families do you chose that don’t deserve closure for their slain loved ones,” Diaz said. “Will I have to wait 12 years, is that now the acceptable standard in the state of Connecticut.”

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Hardy, the state’s first black state’s attorney, spent nearly four hours Friday facing questions about delays in deadly police shooting investigations, how she would rebuild community trust and her case load during her near 13-year tenure.

The Courant reported in October reported that Hardy left open four deadly police shooting investigations dating back as far as 11 years. Immediately following the report, McDonald asked then-Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane to investigate the matter. The commission, in an unprecedented move, suspended Hardy earlier this month for four days.

Hardy described the failure to complete the reports from 2008 to 2011 as a failure during her tenure under questioning from the commission.

In an apology before the commission, Hardy said: “With respect to four use of deadly force reports, I let down victims who had lost family members at the hands of police. In those same, cases I let down police officers who awaited written outcomes of their fate.”

In other action, the commission voted 6-to-1 to reappoint Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt, who has been running the judicial district since 2011.

Platt was first appointed State’s Attorney in June 2011 and reappointed in 2012. She is chief law enforcement official for the Judicial District of Waterbury, which includes the city of Waterbury and the towns of Middlebury, Naugatuck, Prospect, Southbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury.

Nicholas Rondinone can be reached at nrondinone@courant.com.

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