Inspector general: Norwich officer justified in firing at shooter. What the report says
NORWICH — A Norwich police officer was justified in using deadly force in 2021 when he shot back at a man accused of firing a hail of semi-automatic rounds at him seconds earlier, according to a report released Wednesday by the state Office of Inspector General.
The 37-page report concluded that Officer Scott Dupointe legally used deadly force against 28-year-old Andrew O’Lone on Oct. 26, 2021, when the two reportedly exchanged gunfire in the area of Norwich’s Westwood Park.
Inspector General Robert Devlin Jr. and Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Slitt, the report’s authors, found Dupointe’s actions were correctly undertaken to prevent O’Lone from shooting at him and “possibly shooting at others.”
The agency will take no further action in the matter.
How the shooting happened
On the night of the incident, O’Lone walked out of his 123 Westwood Park apartment carrying an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle loaded with an illegal 30-round magazine containing an unknown number of bullets, the report states.
O’Lone is accused of firing at least one shot that likely struck a home on Elizabeth Street Extension, prompting neighbors to call police. Several officers, including Dupointe, were dispatched to the scene.
At approximately 9:57 p.m., O’Lone crossed in front of Dupointe’s cruiser in the area of Dunham Street and Stanley Place and “immediately began opening fire” on the officer who avoided being hit by crouching down behind his steering wheel, police said. Dupointe, his vehicle disabled, fired two shots at a fleeing O’Lone, missing him both times.
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Investigators said O’Lone fired a total of 18 5.56-caliber rounds at Dupointe, 11 of which hit the officer’s cruiser, and several of which lodged in the vehicle. Several of O’Lone’s rounds hit at least three nearby homes – one bullet was found in a Dunham residence’s staircase – and another vehicle.
Scene investigators found Dupointe’s cruiser was hit in the bumper, right headlight, hood and windshield. One bullet passed through the windshield, and traveled the length of the vehicle’s interior before exiting the rear window.
“The evidence strongly suggests that had Officer Dupointe not ducked behind the windshield of the vehicle, he stood a great chance of being struck by one of the bullets fired by O’Lone,” the report states.
O’Lone dropped his weapon and discarded a ski mask, jacket and gloves he was wearing before retreating back to his apartment, Slitt and Devlin wrote. O’Lone’s mother later called police from Maryland to inform them her son was mentally ill and wanted to turn himself in.
O'Lone faces seven charges, including assault on a public safety officer
O’Lone surrendered and was charged with criminal attempted murder, criminal attempt to commit first-degree assault, assault on a public safety officer, first-degree criminal mischief, illegal possession of an assault weapon, possession of a high-capacity magazine and second-degree criminal mischief.
O’Lone has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held on a $1 million bond. He is due next in New London Superior Court on April 5.
Under state law, police officers are justified in using deadly force if they reasonably believed they or another person is facing actual or imminent use of deadly force at the time and it was also reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was needed to defend themselves or others.
“There is no question O’Lone possessed a dangerous weapon,” the report states. “De-escalation measures would not have been appropriate or safe under the circumstances. Finally, Officer Dupointe’s own actions in no way created a situation triggering the use of deadly force."
Video footage and audio recordings from Dupointe’s dashboard and body cameras were reviewed as part of the Inspector General’s Office’s investigation, as was surveillance taken from Norwich Housing Authority cameras.
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In a statement, Dupointe, who was later restored to full-duty status, said O’Lone fired at him multiple times from roughly 25 to 30 yards away. Dupointe said he exited his vehicle and saw O’Lone running.
“It was clear the individual was violent, could be carrying additional weapons and was a threat to the public or other officers who were responding to the area,” Dupointe said, according to an interview transcript. “At this time, I discharged my firearm two times in the direction of the individual.”
Several witness statements were taken during the initial investigation by members of the Eastern District Major Crime Squad. Many of those interviewed recalled hearing gunshots and seeing a man fleeing through the neighborhood.
'How did a mentally ill man obtain a semi-automatic rifle?'
Investigators also noted one matter of “great interest” in the case: “... how did a mentally ill man under a court-ordered conservatorship obtain a semi-automatic rifle?”
Norwich police learned O’Lone, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder whose baseline was described by his nurse as “paranoid,” may have acquired the weapon years before.
“Unfortunately, the question of where O’Lone acquired the rifle used to fire at Officer Dupointe is not answered by this investigation,” Slitt and Devlin wrote.
John Penney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (860) 857-6965.
This article originally appeared on The Bulletin: Inspector general: Norwich police officer justified in firing at man