In their continuing quest for justice for their son, the family of the late Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela has filed a motion in opposition to the Redding Police Department’s motion to quash the family’s subpoena ordering proper DNA testing of the crime scene’s first responders. Dabela is the young African-American attorney who was allegedly found by the Redding police suffering from a single bullet wound to the head in his overturned vehicle in early 2014 in Redding, Connecticut.
The Dabela family is seeking independent collection and DNA testing of first responding officers Brandon Kaufman and Mark DeLuca, whose DNA was personally collected and submitted by now-disgraced former police chief Douglas Fuchs. The family also seeks the DNA of other responding officers and firefighters, some of whom never submitted to testing. Fuchs, who had had a contentious battle with Dabela over a gun permit, stepped down in June in the wake of a lawsuit alleging misconduct and mishandling of the 2016 suicide of Redding resident, Peter Valenti.
The Dabela family believes the requested DNA may prove if any officers and first responders handled Dabela’s gun the night of his death or in the days after his murder before the gun was submitted into evidence at the Connecticut Crime Lab. It is plausible that one of these individuals may have fired the dummy bullet submitted into evidence as part of the cover-up. Additionally, in the weeks leading up to his death, Dabela said he was so intimidated by local firefighters that he left a local bar. Yet the Redding Police Department did not pursue these leads.
In the wake of Dabela’s 2014 death from a gunshot wound through the back of his head, the Connecticut Crime Lab questioned the handling of evidence prior to its submission to the lab. Earlier, Fuchs had rushed to have a press release calling the death “self-inflicted” issued before an autopsy was performed or the family was informed of Dabela’s death. The medical examiner on the case has also testified that his determination of “suicide” was based solely on information provided by Fuchs’ office, and that the autopsy provides no scientific basis for a “suicide” determination.
According to plaintiff attorney Xavier R. Donaldson, “Why were these individuals apparently willing to submit DNA privately to the now disgraced police chief but are now unwilling to submit to a trained lab technician? If the DNA allegedly collected from these officers and first responders in 2015 was in fact from the stated individuals, why seek judicial intervention to prevent confirming this fact? It appears that the Redding Police Department and Town of Redding are doing everything in their power to prevent the Plaintiffs from discovering the truth related to Abe's death.”
In April 2016, the Dabela family filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, alleging civil rights violations surrounding both Dabela’s treatment by the Redding Police Department before his death and during his death investigation as well as a conspiracy to cover up the cause of his death. The case is currently in litigation.