Before the killing of Tyre Nichols was a national story, it was the subject of a seemingly innocuous press release. In the first public account of Nichols' beating by five Memphis officers, the local police department described simply a "confrontation," followed by a foot chase. "While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended," the press release read, failing to describe how officers relentlessly hit and kicked Nichols, how Nichols called out in desperation or what sort of injuries he suffered. It was the latest example of a pattern that has played out frequently nationwide, including in Connecticut: Police at first share vague, sometimes misleading details of a violent encounter, only for video footage and medical records to offer a fuller \u2014 and sometimes contradictory \u2014\u00a0portrait later on. A CT Insider review of use-of-force cases in Connecticut revealed at least four examples, including two from this year, of police initially omitting key details about officers' actions or declining to answer key questions about their conduct. In two cases police failed to share at first that they had used force at all, and in a third they declined for several days to share that someone had died after being shot by officers. All four examples involved officers shooting at suspects, two of whom were Black, one of whom was Latino and one of whom was white. In two of the four incidents, the suspects died from injuries sustained in the encounters. Though the examples in Connecticut are not as stark as the one involving Nichols, they fit with a nationwide phenomenon that has drawn increasing attention in recent years. When Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in 2020, the department shared only that officers "were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress," with no mention of an officer's knee on Floyd's neck. In Baltimore, police claimed Freddie Gray was "arrested without force." In Chicago, police described LaQuan McDonald as "a serious threat." A 2021 investigation from The Guardian found a dozen more examples in California alone of police offering skewed accounts of their own use of force. Claudine Constant, public policy and advocacy director of ACLU Connecticut, describes a "constant pattern of not being able to trust the police word when it is literally printed in black and white." "Press releases released by the police department, they can say something like 'force was used,'" Constant said. "It doesn't tell you who used force. Was it the police officer? Which ones? How many? Which type of force was used?" Several police departments reached by CT Insider defended their initial accounts of police shootings, arguing that details are not always immediately available or that they prefer not to say much about incidents they know will face outside probes. In Connecticut and elsewhere, police share descriptions of incidents directly with the public using social media, as well as with local media through press releases. Immediately after a police shooting, the version of events law enforcement authorities provide is often the only one available, leading reporters to rely heavily \u2014 at times too heavily, some critics say \u2014 on police framing. "Local reporters are always hamstrung because the first piece of information they get is an uncontested narrative from police," said Rich Hanley, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University.\u00a0"Reporters have no choice initially but to use that uncontested narrative, written by police, and as such the police control the early version of the narrative on their terms completely." Hanley noted that reporters should, and often do, ask follow-up questions of police, request body cam footage and other records, and pursue additional coverage as more information becomes available. To assess police transparency around use-of-force incidents in Connecticut, CT Insider analyzed 19 cases of police conduct either currently or previously under investigation by the state's Office of Inspector General, which reviews all instances in which officers use deadly force. Reporters compared initial police accounts \u2014 both agency press releases and quotes officials gave to news media \u2014 against body camera and surveillance footage released later. In some cases, police offered fairly detailed accounts that were largely corroborated by video. In others, relevant footage did not exist or was not available. At least four instances, however, featured notable gaps between what police said and what video showed. East Haven Police Department, Jan. 5, 2023 What police said: East Haven Police initially told reporters only that there had been an "incident involving a wanted suspect" and no one was hurt. How the police account affected media coverage: Initial coverage focused on the heavy police presence along I-95, which had temporarily shut down the highway, and the fact the incident involved a "wanted suspect." What video shows: Body camera footage from two officers, released a day after the encounter, showed both chasing 27-year-old Nicholas Gambardella across the highway and into a grassy area. One shouted "Get on the f------ ground or I\u2019ll f------ kill you," while the other yelled "Get on the ground or I\u2019ll f------ shoot you." One of the officers then fired three shots toward Gambardella, all of which appeared to miss, before the officers together caught, tackled and arrested him. Police, who later said they'd suspected Gambardella was armed, did not find a weapon on him. Fallout: Gambardella, who had been wanted for failure to appear in court, posted $151,500 bail and was released from custody. He claims his foot was broken in the encounter with police and he hurt his hand and pelvis. The inspector general has announced an investigation into the incident. What police say now:\u00a0A spokesperson for the East Haven Police said the Office of the Inspector General had advised the department "to direct all inquiries to them, including [regarding] preliminary information provided publicly on the day of the incident." However, Inspector General Robert J. Devlin Jr. said in a statement that his office does not restrict police departments from sharing details immediately following a use-of-force incident. \u201cThereafter during our investigation, we do encourage local police departments to refer media inquiries to our office,\u201d he said, in an effort to \u201cminimize the chance that inconsistent information about an event is released.\u201d Stratford Police Department, Feb. 5, 2021 What police said: From a press release the day after the incident: "The suspect was observed entering a vehicle at which time Stratford Police Officers attempted a traffic stop where force was used." The release said the suspect "did sustain injuries" but did not specify that police had shot him. Details of the encounter, including the fact that a man was dead, did not become public until a state's attorney released a preliminary report four days later. How the police account affected media coverage: Initial coverage was short on specifics\u00a0and, in at least one case, repeated the police department's passive voice. Some local outlets do not appear to have covered the shooting immediately, possibly due to the lack of available detail. What video shows: According to footage from an officer's body-worn camera\u00a0released days after the shooting, officers surrounded 36-year-old Christopher Hagans\u2019s car with their guns drawn, shouting at him to "stop reaching." When he began to drive away in an apparent attempt to escape, they fired several shots. Hagans then exited the car carrying a gun, at which point multiple officers shot him. Fallout: Hagans was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The inspector general later concluded Hagans had pointed a gun at officers and the force officers used was therefore justified. What police say now:\u00a0Asked about the initial lack of detail surrounding\u00a0the\u00a0Hagans shooting, a Stratford Police spokesperson said in an email the department "will not make any statements in such a situation in order to ensure a fair and impartial investigation into the incident as is required by state statute." Bristol Police Department, Jan. 12, 2023 What the police said: The day of the incident, police detailed a carjacking and pursuit that ended when the suspect crashed into a local diner. They did not mention use of force by officers. In a press release the following day, following an initial round of media coverage, they reported that "\u2026 a police vehicle was stolen, shots were fired and a pursuit ensued." How the police account affected media coverage: Initial coverage described the carjacking, pursuit and crash, with a particular emphasis on the diner and no mention that anyone had been shot or even that police had fired at the suspect. What video shows: Body camera footage released a day after the incident began with 39-year-old Jimmie Shoemaker-Gonzalez already inside a Bristol Police car, with at least three officers around him. When Shoemaker-Gonzalez started to drive away from the officers, one of them fired four shots at the vehicle. Fallout: According to the Office of the Inspector General, one of the shots struck Gonzalez in the leg. He drove away from the area in the police car before crashing into the diner about two and a half miles away. Gonzalez was arrested and is being held on $1 million bond. The inspector general has announced an investigation into the incident. What police say now:\u00a0A spokesperson for the Bristol Police Department declined to comment, citing a pending inspector general's office investigation. Connecticut State Police, Jan. 15, 2020 What police said: The Connecticut State Police initially told reporters only that there had been a fatal\u00a0"officer-involved shooting" stemming from an alleged carjacking. Later that night, a spokesperson\u00a0added: "some shots were fired, and the suspect was struck by some gunfire," after which officers found a knife in the vehicle. The spokesperson declined to share further details of the encounter, such as what prompted police to shoot the person or how far from him officers were when one of them opened fire. How the police account affected media coverage: Initial coverage largely emphasized the alleged carjacking and ensuing police chase, with relatively few details about the shooting. At least one story offered the same "officer-involved shooting" language police had used. That same story mentioned that it was "unclear if the suspect had a gun or if the suspect tried to use a weapon on any police officers." What video showed: Body camera footage released days after the encounter showed officers pursuing Mubarak Soulemane until he eventually stopped under a highway overpass. Three state troopers surrounded Soulemane\u2019s parked car, maintaining distance from the 19-year-old, who remained in the front seat. One officer attempted to break a back window. Eventually, Soulemane reached downward, at which point another trooper, who police identified as Brian North, fired seven shots through the closed front window. Fallout: Soulemane was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. Following an investigation, the inspector general concluded North\u2019s actions were not justified, leading the officer to be charged with manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty. What police say now: Asked about what the department did and didn't share following the Soulemane shooting, a Connecticut State Police spokesperson said in an email: "officer involved shootings, as with any major incident, require additional time as investigators talk to witnesses and involved law enforcement to piece together an incident from start to finish." email@example.com.