Undated family photo

It’s been just over two years since the body of Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela was discovered in his wrecked car, a gunshot wound to his head, in Redding, Conn.

The family, after years of waiting and pleading for answers, has decided to file a lawsuit against the town of Redding; officers of the Redding Police Department, including Police Chief Douglas Fuchs; and others, accusing the defendants of rushing to judgment in declaring Dabela’s death a suicide and of not properly investigating the case, despite evidence that the family believes proves he was murdered. 

“The loss of my son remains unfathomable, but the continuing revelation of lies about his death and efforts to destroy his legacy have worsened the grief and swept us into an unimaginable, never-ending nightmare,” said his father, Abraham Dabela, a plaintiff. “We began this journey believing we would only have to find a killer, but those who protect a killer must be brought to justice, as well.”

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The suit, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, accuses the defendants of “denial of due process and denial of equal protection to Abe Dabela when he applied for a gun permit to the Redding Police Department in 2013,” “denial of the plaintiffs’ right of access to the courts by failing to properly investigate his death,” “[creating] danger that exposed Abe Dabela to an act of violence by a third party,” “conspiracy to cover up the murder,” and “wrongful death of Abe Dabela (by the as-yet-unnamed killer, whose identity is unknown due to acts of the defendants).”

Dabela, an attorney, was found dead during the early-morning hours of April 5, 2014, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head in his overturned car. Police Chief Fuchs quickly announced that the wound was self-inflicted, classifying the death a suicide. 

The family argues that the suicide classification came within hours of Dabela’s death and has not been re-evaluated over the past two years despite details that suggest he was killed. The lawsuit flat out accuses the Police Department of disregarding the information, including details discovered at and retrieved from the crime scene, scientific evidence developed later, as well as descriptions of the attorney’s behavior prior to his death. 

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Witnesses who saw Dabela last said that he was socializing and handing out business cards for his new law practice while telling his audience of plans for a motorcycle trip to see his girlfriend the weekend before he died. The lawsuit claims that several potential witnesses were not interviewed, leads were not followed and the crime scene wasn’t controlled properly. 

The family also pointed to the position of Dabela’s wound, the fact that the bullet found at the crash location could not be matched to his gun or to him, the fact that someone else’s DNA was reportedly found on the trigger of Dabela’s gun, and the fact that no gunshot residue was found on the sleeve cuffs of his jacket as more evidence of a conspiracy. Dabela’s hands were never tested for residue. He was licensed to carry his weapon. 

The family has been struggling for the past two years to bring evidence to the forefront in hopes of getting the system to take Dabela’s case seriously, working with authorities to bring facts to light and hiring attorneys, expert witnesses and private investigators to look into the matter. 

“The Dabela family’s search for justice on behalf of their son and brother Abe Dabela continues,” said Solomon Radner of Excolo, PLLC, who was brought on, along with co-worker Ari Kresch, to file the civil suit on behalf of the estate. “The Redding Police Department prematurely announced his murder a suicide, and appears to have conspired to cover up his murder by ignoring evidence and possible leads. This is why we have filed suit in United States District Court.”

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The Root reached out to the Redding Police Department for comment on the lawsuit. Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said that he could not comment on pending litigation.

Also on The Root: “#Justice4Abe: More Than a Year Later, the Family of Conn. Lawyer Gugsa Abraham Dabela Still Searches for Answers