REDDING, Conn. (AP) — The family of an attorney found shot in the head in a wrecked car is suing police, saying they rushed to judgment in declaring the death a suicide and didn't properly investigate because he was black.
The family of Gugsa Abraham "Abe" Dabela sued Redding police in federal court Tuesday, exactly two years after his death. The family has also hired its own forensic experts, and Connecticut NAACP officials are looking into Dabela's death.
The suit alleges police in Redding, a mostly white town, conspired to cover up a murder. It also alleges police violated Dabela's civil rights when they delayed processing his concealed pistol permit a year before his death.
Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said Thursday that he can't comment on pending litigation. He has defended the police department's handling of the investigation, and he noted the medical examiner's office ruled Dabela's death a suicide.
The lawsuit is against the town of Redding, Fuchs, seven police officers and "killer John Doe," an unknown person. It seeks undisclosed monetary awards.
"The loss of my son remains unfathomable, but the continuing revelation of lies about his death and efforts to destroy his legacy have worsened the grief and swept us into an unimaginable, never-ending nightmare," Dabela's father, Abraham Dabela, said in a statement.
Abe Dabela, 35, had argued with an unidentified town official about property taxes two nights before he died, the lawsuit says. Before his car veered into woods near his home, he negotiated several turns successfully, the lawsuit says.
The family's lawyers also say Dabela got a text message on the night of his death that read, "turn he just didn't." The lawsuit alleges information about the sender of the text was deleted sometime after Dabela's death.
The family and the NAACP say many questions remain, including why Dabela's DNA wasn't found on the trigger of a handgun found at the crash site.