The state medical examiner's office has ruled the death of Scott Smith, a former New Milford police officer, as a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Smith became the first policeman in Connecticut to be tried for murder in connection with actions taken in 1998 while on duty.

Smith, 41, who was later acquitted of murder but convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison, was found Tuesday, May 22, 2013 by firefighters in a bedroom of his home on Acre Drive in Danbury.

Firefighters were summoned to the home about 9:25 a.m. after friends reported they had been unable to reach him.

In 1998, the then 27-year-old Smith had been a police officer for two years when he shot and killed 19-year-old Franklyn Reid of New Milford on Dec. 29 while trying to take him into custody.

Witnesses who were driving by the two men along Route 202 and standing at a gas station across the street said Smith had Reid face down on the ground.

Reid's hands, they said, were outstretched above his head and, later, clasped behind his back. Smith's left foot was on Reid's back and the barrel of his pistol was touching Reid's back when the weapon was fired, they said.

Smith claimed Reid was resisting him and refused to show his hands. Smith said he feared Reid had a weapon and would turn it on him.

After an investigation by Connecticut State Police, then Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly charged Smith with murder.

A jury acquitted him of the murder charge, but convicted him of first-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to six years in prison.

The state Appellate Court threw out the conviction after finding the trial judge had improperly excluded testimony about Smith's training and did not properly instruct the jury on the law regarding self-defense.

He never served time and instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide, while agreeing to never work as a police officer again.

Smith later applied for firefighting jobs in New Haven and Danbury, but wasn't hired.

Reid's family subsequently filed suit against the town of New Milford in federal court, but agreed to settle the case out of court for $1.6 million.

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Former New Milford police officer Scott Smith, the first cop in Connecticut to be tried for the murder of a suspect in the line of duty, was found dead Tuesday morning in his home, Danbury police said.

He was 41.

The cause of death remains under investigation.

Danbury Police Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Michael said firefighters forced their way into Smith's home on Acre Drive about 9:25 a.m. after friends reported they had been unable to contact him.

Paramedics found Smith in his bed and pronounced him dead. An autopsy to determine the cause of death will be performed by the state medical examiner, Michael said.

On Dec. 29, 1998, the then 27-year-old Smith had been a police officer for two years when he shot and killed 19-year-old Franklyn Reid of New Milford while trying to take him into custody.

Witnesses who were driving by the two men along Park Lane (Route 202) and standing at a gas station across the street said Smith had Reid face down on the ground.

Reid's hands, they said, were outstretched above his head and, later, clasped behind his back. Smith's left foot was on Reid's back and the barrel of his pistol was touching Reid's back when the weapon was fired, they said.

Smith claimed Reid was resisting him and refused to show his hands. Smith said he feared Reid had a weapon and would turn it on him.

After an investigation by state police, then-Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly charged Smith with murder.

The case drew widespread attention because of the races of the principals -- Reid was black and Smith white -- and because Smith was the first police officer in the state to be charged with murder while acting in the line of duty.

No evidence surfaced during the trial to indicate the shooting was racially motivated.

Police officers from across the state attended the trial and demonstrated in support of Smith outside state Superior Court in Litchfield, where the trial was held.

A jury acquitted him of the murder charge, but convicted him of first-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to six years in prison.

The state Appellate Court threw out the conviction after finding the trial judge improperly had excluded testimony about Smith's training and did not properly instruct the jury on the law regarding self-defense.

On the eve of his retrial, Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminally negligent homicide. He didn't serve any jail time, but agreed never again to seek employment as a police officer.

Smith later applied for firefighting jobs in New Haven and Danbury, but wasn't hired.

Reid's family subsequently filed suit against the town of New Milford in federal court, but agreed to settle the case out of court for $1.6 million.

The family couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Lt. Larry Ash, spokesman for the New Milford Police Department, issued a brief statement Tuesday on behalf of the department.

"We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Scott Smith," Ash said.

jpirro@newstimes.com; 203-731-3342