Family's heartbreak over son's US shooting

The heartbroken family of a young Dubliner shot dead by a police officer in America today revealed they will never get justice for his killing.

The heartbroken family of a young Dubliner shot dead by a police officer in America today revealed they will never get justice for his killing.

Andrew Hanlon was hit five times at close range by a powerful Glock 21 pistol - the final bullet entering his body as he fell to the ground.

An inquest heard Andrew was unarmed and barefoot when ex-officer Tony Gonzalez opened fire.

Andrew’s heartbroken mother Dorothea Carroll wept as she said all she wanted was to be with her 20-year-old son in his final moments and an apology.

“He died alone on a dark street with nobody who cared around him,” said Mrs Carroll outside Dublin County Coroner’s Court in Tallaght.

“I think about that often. My son lying on the side of the street in a pool of blood dying.

“If I could have that one moment back with him that would mean the world to me, that one moment to put my arms around my son, but none of that is possible.”

Andrew was shot dead by former police officer Tony Gonzalez on June 30 last year in the town of Silverton, south of Portland, in the state of Oregon.

Marion County District Attorney’s Office maintained Mr Gonzalez came across Mr Hanlon when he responded to a 911 burglary call.

Andrew’s stepfather Justin Carroll told the inquest the young man – who was barefoot and unarmed – had been banging on the door of the house shouting ’let me in’ and was not trying to break in.

Mr Carroll said friends who had been with Andrew 20 minutes earlier said he was in good spirits, but for some reason he became extremely agitated and went to the house.

“There’s a suspicion he was being chased. But nobody can say if it’s true or not. Only Andrew,” he added.

Police were called to the scene by the frightened homeowners but Andrew was around 100 yards away from the property when an officer spotted him.

“The printout from the radio conversation between dispatch and officers confirms Officer Gonzalez was aware Andrew was unarmed,” said Mr Carroll.

Mr Carroll said witnesses claimed to have heard Officer Gonzalez confront Andrew, who was five meters away, and warn him ’do you want me to shoot you?’

“He was in the process of getting down,” said Mr Carroll.

“Officer Gonzalez said something else. Other witnesses said him heard ’do you want me to shoot you?’ (again) at which point Andrew seemed to straighten up and step forward. The officer fired seven times.”

Mr Carroll said five bullets hit Andrew as he moved out from between two cars.

He maintained the officer was an ex-cage fighter, martial arts expert and was around four times the body mass of his stepson.

“Even if Andrew was not complying with what the officer said his actions were excessive,” added Ms Carroll.

After the shooting, Mr Gonzalez was placed on administrative leave but was later cleared by a grand jury of wrongdoing. He resigned from the force in August.

But in December, the former police officer was jailed for more than six years after pleading guilty to four counts of sex abuse.

Mr Hanlon was living illegally in the US after his holiday visa had expired with his sister Melanie Heise, who remains in Silverton.

The inquest heard she believed her younger brother had begun to have psychological problems, but Mr Carroll insisted he was a normal homesick 20-year-old.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said two bullets had entered Andrew’s left arm and lodged in his lungs, with a third hitting his back left shoulder.

The final bullet struck him in his lower body as he was falling to the ground, she said, and went up through his liver, lung and ribs.

Mr Carroll said an autopsy in the US showed a fifth bullet grazed the back of Andrew’s neck.

Dr Cassidy recorded the cause of death was due to gunshot wounds to his trunk.

“Any one of these gunshots would have been sufficient to kill him, not just knock him down,” added Dr Cassidy.

Dublin County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty directed the jury to return an open verdict.

Outside the hearing Mrs Carroll revealed she had hoped the inquest would bring some closure as the family cannot take legal action against the officer.

“I understand there could only be an open verdict but I just wanted anybody to say to me the shooting of my son is wrong, that’s all I want,” continued Mrs Carroll, from Sandyford, south Dublin.

“The culpability, there is none. We’re not going to get justice for Andrew. Tony Gonzalez will never do any sort of time for my son’s death.”

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