RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- A town police officer who fatally shot a millionaire philanthropist armed with a handgun during a domestic dispute at the man's Ridgebury Road home last year was justified in his use of deadly force.
Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky on Wednesday released a report that concluded Ridgefield Police Officer Jorge Romero's use of deadly force against John Valluzzo, 75, was justified in the May 24, 2013, incident.
It was determined that the 38 Special Smith & Wesson that Valluzzo was holding during the incident was not loaded, according to the report.
"That the gun Mr. Valluzzo held was unloaded does not affect this determination of justifiable behavior by the officer," Sedensky wrote in the report. "It was entirely reasonable for (Romero) to treat Mr. Valluzzo's gun as being loaded with ammunition that could take his life and the lives of those around him."
Police had rushed to the Ridgebury Road home after dispatchers received a call from a Florida woman, who said her cousin, Anna Messina, called and said Valluzzo, her boyfriend, was drunk and pointing a handgun at her inside his home, according to the report.
An autopsy later found that Valluzzo's blood-alcohol content was .14, nearly twice the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle in Connecticut.
Romero arrived on the scene first about 5:15 p.m., punching a pass code into the driveway's security gate and driving up to the house before approaching an open side door on foot with his gun drawn, he recalled in a written report excerpted in Wednesday's report.
Once Romero reached the open doorway, he saw Valluzzo standing inside the home about 15 to 20 feet away. Romero said he then shouted, "Police, drop the gun!"
Instead, according to the officer's report, Valluzzo turned to face Romero and started "charging" toward him as the officer repeated his order to drop the gun.
"He was approximately three to five feet from me when I fired two rounds from my service weapon," Romero wrote in his report.
Valluzzo, a well-known local philanthropist who founded the Military Museum of Southern New England, suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and stomach. He was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital later that evening.
Officers searching the home after the shooting found Messina hiding in a bedroom closet. She later told authorities that Valluzzo had pulled one of several guns he owned from a bedside table and began pointing it at her, demanding that she leave the home where she often spent the night.
Messina recently filed suit against Valluzzo's estate seeking compensation for anxiety, sleep disorders and other distresses she suffers as a result of the incident.
Copyright 2014 - The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service