Man fatally shot by federal task force in Hartford identified; name of FBI agent involved withheld from report

Nicholas Rondinone, Hartford Courant

New Haven State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin has identified the Hartford man fatally shot by a New Britain police officer and a FBI agent, members of a federal task force serving a warrant Wednesday morning in Hartford.

Benecio Vasquez, 34, suffered a number of gunshot wounds, Griffin wrote in a preliminary report released Friday, in an apparent exchange of gunfire involving members of the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force and Connecticut Violent Crimes Task force.

Griffin also named one of the two task force members involved as Christopher Kiely, a New Britain police officer. The other task force member that fired their weapon was a FBI agent, who was not named in Griffin’s initial report.

Griffin wrote that he was advised by federal authorities that the name of the FBI agent involved has not been authorized for public release.

Kiely was among five New Britain police officers that fired their weapons in a shooting that killed 20-year-old Zoe Dowdell and injuring two teens in New Britain in 2017. They were later cleared of wrongdoing.

New Britain police said in a news release Friday that Kiely, an 11-year veteran of the department, had been “assigned to administrative duties pending the results of an internal investigation.”

Federal task force members were on Enfield Street with a federal warrant to take 33-year-old Brandon Spence into custody for violating the conditions of his supervisory release from federal prison weapons charges, according to Griffin.

Federal prosecutors said the violation stems from accusations that Spence shot someone on Dec. 7 about a block away from the task force shooting on Enfield Street.

During the arrest, task force members came upon Vasquez about the same time they arrested Spence, and that’s when the gunfire was exchanged, officials said.

Law enforcement sources told The Courant that Vasquez was in a vehicle with Spence and attempted to run from the task force members there to arrest Spence.

Griffin did not detail what led up to the shooting, but said the events leading up to the shootout are a “primary focus” of the ongoing investigation.

It remains unclear how Vasquez and Spence were connected, but officials said earlier this week that they are looking into any association. Vasquez was on federal supervised release for weapons convictions at the time he was shot by task force members.

The shooting unfolded about 9 a.m. Wednesday, sending residents out of their homes amid reports that bullets struck a gas line, witnesses said.

Several smashed up SUVs sat in the middle of Enfield Street amid the scores of authorities that flooded the area following the shooting. Authorities kept the public out of the area and would not explain how events unfolded.

Griffin’s report provides little detail beyond what state police shared on Wednesday and does not discuss the vehicles.

He said that the task force members on hand were not wearing body cameras and that footage obtained from Hartford police does not capture the shooting.

Griffin, working with state police detectives, will determine if the use of deadly force was justified and lawful.

Given a FBI agent was involved in the shooting, state investigators are working in conjunction with the U.S. attorney’s office and members of the FBI’s Inspection Division.

Nicholas Rondinone can be reached at