The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Mother of Hartford man killed by police outside Springfiel­d casino demands answers

- By Lisa Backus

The mother of William Tisdol, the 48-year-old Connecticu­t man killed by Massachuse­tts police outside the MGM Springfiel­d casino, is seeking answers to what led to her son’s death last weekend.

“As his mother, I have the right to those answers,” Gloria CarterVaug­ht said in an interview with Hearst Connecticu­t Media Group. “He might have been belligeren­t to someone or had a fight with someone, but he left the building, he was headed to his car.”

A spokespers­on for the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, which is investigat­ing the police use of deadly force, said Tisdol exchanged gunfire with officers before he was killed. Unlike Connecticu­t, where authoritie­s are required to release video within 96 hours of a police use-of-force incident, Massachuse­tts will likely not provide the footage until the investigat­ion is completed, officials said this week.

The Hampden County District Attorney Records Center denied Hearst Connecticu­t Media Group’s public records request for any body or dash camera videos of the incident.

As of Thursday, Carter-Vaught said she had not yet spoken with Massachuse­tts State Police or the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office to get details on her son’s death or the investigat­ion into the police shooting that killed him.

It isn’t the first time a family member has been shot by police. William Tisdol’s 15-year-old son Caleb and two others were shot by New Britain police in December 2017. The three teens, one of whom died in the shooting, were accused of committing a violent string of carjacking­s in New Britain and other towns when they were cornered by officers looking for their vehicle.

New Britain police were cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting after an investigat­ion showed the teens tried to flee and run over two officers.

The shooting occurred before Connecticu­t’s 2019 law requiring the release of video footage within four days of a police useof-force incident.

As the investigat­ion unfolded, William Tisdol fought hard for the release of the body and dash camera videos as his son was incarcerat­ed on robbery charges. The investigat­ion took 13 months to complete. The family was not allowed to view the videos until days before it was released publicly more than a year after the shootings.

The investigat­ion in the death of William Tisdol is continuing and will be completed expeditiou­sly with all findings released to the public, according to James Heydon, spokespers­on for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.

Carter-Vaught said family members went to the funeral home Thursday to make arraignmen­ts to bring her son’s body back to Connecticu­t for burial. Carter-Vaught said she was told by the mother of Tisdol’s eight children that an autopsy revealed he had been shot in the clavicle and the bullet traveled to his lung. A spokespers­on for the Massachuse­tts medical examiner has not return phone calls seeking the cause and manner of Tisdol’s death.

Tisdol had stopped at his mother’s Vernon home last Friday afternoon before going to the casino, she said.

“We were goofing off talking and laughing,” she said. He had rented a car to come see her and later drive with friends to Springfiel­d.

He had been saving his money to buy his own car, she said. Tisdol had struggled to stay out of trouble and was once sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for selling crack cocaine, she said. He had been selling drugs to support his family even as he held a job, she said.

“The only problem I had with him was that I’d tell him I didn’t raise you to keep getting arrested,” she said. “I said you have to stop it, you have children. That’s what he was trying to do.”

After visiting his mother, Tisdol went to the Springfiel­d casino with friends.

“They told me they had a wonderful time,” she said. “They were losing, so they wanted to go home, but he was winning so he brought them home and came back.”

Carter-Vaught said her son’s friends told her he didn’t have a weapon and wasn’t bothering anyone when they were at the casino with him.

But Tisdol’s mother said he could get aggressive when he’s had too much to drink.

“They give you all that free liquor at the casino, he was probably tipsy,” she said.

The incident began around 2 a.m. Saturday when members of the Massachuse­tts State Police Gaming Unit and Springfiel­d police received a report that a man was “acting aggressive” to others and was possibly armed inside the MGM Springfiel­d casino, Leydon said in a news release after the shooting.

The man was located as he was leaving the casino heading in the direction of Main and Union streets, Leydon said. A foot chase ensued with shots fired between the man and responding officers, Leydon said. The man was struck by gunfire and taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfiel­d, where he died, officials said. Gulluni’s office, the Massachuse­tts State Police Detective Unit and the Springfiel­d Police Detective Bureau are investigat­ing the deadly use of police force, Leydon said.

“He was no longer in the building, why did they feel the need to chase him?” CarterVaug­ht said. “Why did they feel the need to approach my son when he had left the building and was heading toward his car?”

After the shooting, he had been in the hospital for at least six hours, but the family wasn’t notified he had been gravely injured until after he died, Carter-Vaught said.

She wept openly when she recalled her 6-yearold great-grandson asking why his grandfathe­r died.

“He said to me, ‘Gigi, why would my grandfathe­r leave me like that? He was my best friend,’ ” she said. “I told him that he didn’t leave you on purpose.”

 ?? Gloria Carter-Vaught / Contribute­d photo ?? Gloria Carter-Vaught wants to know why Massachuse­tts State Police shot and killed her son William Tisdol, right, outside the MGM Springfiel­d casino last weekend.
Gloria Carter-Vaught / Contribute­d photo Gloria Carter-Vaught wants to know why Massachuse­tts State Police shot and killed her son William Tisdol, right, outside the MGM Springfiel­d casino last weekend.

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