AP NEWS

Report: Police officer justified in shooting of New Milford man

December 20, 2018

NEW MILFORD - The shooting of an armed New Milford man by a police officer in August 2017 was justified, according to report by State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky.

On Aug. 28, 2017, Kostatinos (Gus) Sfaelos was shot once by New Milford Police Officer Christopher Hayes in a wooded area near Mr. Sfaelos’ home at Outlook Road. Mr. Sfaelos died from this injury.

Sfaelos, carrying a shotgun, had run into nearby woods shortly after police arrived.

When he emerged from the woods shortly afterward, he disobeyed orders from police to drop the gun and was shot.

“Based on the facts determined to exist in this case this State’s Attorney finds that New Milford Police Officer Christopher Hayes was justified in using deadly physical force upon another person. He was justified based upon his reasonable belief that the use of such force was necessary to defend himself and others. As such, the use of deadly force was appropriate underand no further action will be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice as a result of this incident,” Sedensky said in the report that was released Thursday.

Sfaelos owned the home on Outlook Road, about a mile east of the town green, since 1997, according to property records.

Hayes graduated from Ridgefield High School in 2002. Before becoming a New Milford officer, he worked at his family’s dry-cleaning business in Ridgefield.

The report said New Milford police had received a 911 call from the sister of Heather Sfaelos, the wife of Sfaelos. “The sister reported that Mrs. Sfaelos had called her extremely upset. Mrs. Sfaelos had just come home from a trip. She told her sister that her husband had a gun and was trying to kill himself.”

In the course of the police response, Sfaelos was shot once by Hayes in a wooded area near the home. Sfaelos had been armed with an unloaded 20 gauge shotgun and he had three 12 gauge shotgun shells in his pocket.

The report details interviews with witnesses.

Sfaelos’ wife indicated that her husband had been distant as of late and that he had recently been fired from his job at Costco. He was not on any medication, had never attempted or stated that he was suicidal and had not ever been diagnosed with any mental illness. Mrs. Sfaelos felt that maybe he had had some mental health issue that was never diagnosed.

She told investigators when she returned home from a family reunion she found her husband sitting on the living room couch holding a shotgun that they had in the home.

“Mr. Sfaelos told her that he wanted to die, but waited for her to come home to take care of the dogs. She said that Mr. Sfaelos walked out of the house with the shotgun. While he was standing in the driveway he said that he was going to have the police shoot him,” the report said.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane designated State’s Attorney Sedensky for the Judicial District of Danbury to handle the investigation and review the circumstances of Sfaelos’ death.