Firefighter DNA an Issue in Connecticut Lawsuit

Several Connecticut firefighters have found themselves in the middle of a court battle over the need for them to provide DNA samples in a complicated case involving the death of an attorney. The suit was brought in US District Court by the father of Gugsa Abraham Dabela, who died on April 5, 2014.

The following factual description comes from one of the pleadings in the lawsuit:

  • As this Court is well aware, this case concerns the death of Gugsa Abraham Dabela (Abe), of a single gunshot wound to the head in April 2014.
  • According to the Defendants, Abe was found within his vehicle which had flipped over on the side of the road in Redding, Connecticut at approximately 1:30 am, less than 15 minutes after leaving a local restaurant and pub, The Black Cat Grille.
  • By all eyewitness accounts, Abe was in his normal friendly, upbeat spirits in the moments and hours preceding his death, interacting with friends and patrons and handing out business cards for his burgeoning legal practice.
  • The instant suit seeks damages for various constitutional violations, including the intentional failure to properly investigate the incident.
  • Plaintiffs also allege that the Defendants have conspired to cover-up Abe’s murder, by insisting from day one that Abe’s death was a “self-inflicted” suicide.

The Redding police and the medical examiner concluded that Dabela committed suicide. However, Dabela’s father, Dr. Abraham Dabela, has raised a number of troubling questions about how the case was investigated and animosity between his son and Redding PD.  Here is a copy of his complaint: Dabela v Redding

At issue is whether five Georgetown Fire Department responders, identified only as “Georgetown Fire Department Fireman# G 53, Georgetown Fire Department Fireman # G 46, Georgetown Fire Department Fireman # G 54, Georgetown Fire Department Fireman# G 79, and Georgetown Fire Department Fireman# G 95” have to provide a DNA sample. The five firefighters are not named as defendants in the lawsuit, but were subpoenaed nonetheless because they were present at the scene.

The Town of Redding’s attorney, Thomas R. Gerarde, is seeking to “quash” the sub poena. Here is a copy of his Motion to Quash:  Dabela v Redding MTQ

Here is Dr. Dabela’s response to the Motion to Quash:  Dabela v Redding MTQ OPP MEMO

The matter is scheduled to be head on December 13, 2018 in US District Court in Hartford.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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