Salem Community Patriot February 4, 2011 - 11
Officers Justified in Shooting of Armed Suspect
by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has released their preliminary report regarding the investigation into an officer involved shooting that took place on Thursday, January 6 on South Policy Street as well as in the area of Playcamp Road at approximately 10:37 a.m. According to Salem Deputy Police Chief Shawn
Patten one officer involved has now returned to duty while two others remain on leave and will return when they feel they are comfortable and ready to do so. Patten said the incident happened very quickly and that every officer is an individual who handles these types of situations differently. “These are not always the easiest types of incidents to deal with,” Patten said. On January 6 Salem police officer Ryan Sambataro was working at a detail site approximately 300 feet from the home of Larry Minassian, the suspect who was eventually shot by officers. When dispatch radioed to officers regarding a call to Minassian’s home stating he claimed to be suicidal and armed with a knife, Sambataro responded to the residence and encountered Larry Minassian in the street holding a sword with a blade with blade approximately 12-inches in length. While the other responding officers were en route to Minassian’s residence Salem police dispatch advised all responding officers that the suspect was stating he had a knife and, “couldn’t take it anymore”. When Officer Sambataro encountered Minassian initially Minassian was holding a bible in one hand and was holding a sword with the other with the blade pointed at his stomach. According to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s report Sambataro said that Minassian was holding the sword around its hilt, beneath the guard and pointing the tip towards his own stomach.
Officer Sambataro said that Minassian told him he had, “lost his faith” and through the bible down onto the ground. He also repeatedly told Officer Sambataro that, “the FBI was after him and were trying to frame him for selling drugs out of his home”. During this time Officer Matthew MacKenzie arrived at the scene and also witnessed Minassian with the tip of the sword he was armed with pointed at his stomach. Upon Officer MacKenzie’s arrival to the scene Minassian turned towards Officer MacKenzie to address him and as he did so Officer Ryan Sambataro noticed that the suspect had a second knife tucked into the rear pocket of his pants near the small of his back. The knife had a black handle on it. Officer Sambataro also noticed that the front door to Minassian’s home was open, but did not know if anyone was inside the residence that could suddenly appear at the door. The officers say that Minassian moved from the front of his yard into the middle of Playcamp Road continuing to hold the knife to his stomach and stating that, “they didn’t understand” and that, “the FBI was looking into him” and also, “today is the day”. The suspect then allegedly began to pace back and forth across the width of Playcamp Road, refusing to comply with the officers commands to calm down and put the sword down. During this time Officer Sambataro warned Officer MacKenzie that the suspect was in possession of a second knife that was tucked into his back pocket. Witnesses who are civilians told investigators that at this point neither officer had drawn their weapons and that both officers had their hands up, showing open hands to Minassian trying to calm him down and reason with him in a peaceful manner. Approximately two to three minutes later
several officers were closing South Policy Street down due to the situation and the Soule Elementary School was contacted and ordered into a lock down. While this was happening and just prior to South Policy Street being officially closed down Minassian’s neighbor, George Finn happened to be driving by and offered his assistance to the officers as he considers Minassian a friend. Finn shouted from behind the patrol officers, “Larry! It’s me George!” He also told Minassian to drop the sword, but Minassian failed to even acknowledge Finn’s presence and after a short time George Finn backed away from the scene.
Prior to the arrival of more officers, Officer
MacKenzie radioed to Salem police dispatchers that Minassian was still holding the sword to his stomach. It was just a minute later that Officer Michael White, Officer Rick Nicosia, and
Detective Michael Bernard began to arrive at the scene along with Detective Eric Tine, Sergeant Joel Dolan and Detective Lieutenant Jim Chase. The officers met around Officer Matthew
MacKenzie’s police cruiser parked outside of Minassian’s home in the middle of South Policy Street. While the officers were gathered in the area near where Minassian was acting erratically he suddenly stopped pointing the sword at his stomach, but continued pacing back and forth on Playcamp Road. According the report issued by the Attorney General the officers stated that at this time, though no longer pointing the sword at himself he maintained the same grip on the weapon and began gesturing with it yelling that, “today is the day!” Also continuing to state that the FBI was trying to frame him for crimes he did not commit. It was at this time that Detective Eric Tine, and Officer Michael White drew their firearms but maintained them in a low and away position. Detective Lieutenant Jim Chase took control of the conversation with Minassian and held a taser at this time. Detective Michael Bernard also armed himself with a taser as well. Sergeant Joel Dolan initially drew his firearm but repeatedly holstered his weapon and unholstered it as he switched from issuing commands to the other officers involved in the incident. Personnel from Salem Fire Department were staged at the scene at this time approximately 150 yards away ready to offer any medical assistance if requested to do so.
After taking control of the conversation with Minassian, Detective Lieutenant Jim Chase explained to Minassian that they were not there to harm him and to put the sword down so they could talk in a reasonable manner. Minassian did not respond to Lieutenant Chase. Officer MacKenzie warned Lieutenant Chase and the other newly arrived officers that Minassian had a second knife or sword in his rear pocket or waistband of his pants.
Lieutenant Chase continued to try to calm Minassian and reason with him saying things like that they were not there to arrest him, just relax and drop the sword, you just need to tell us what’s going on and what is wrong. During this time Minassian began to charge right at Lieutenant Chase still clenching the sword in his hand. Several officers drew their weapons and yelled at Minassian to drop the sword, back away and stop moving. Minassian did acknowledge the officers at this time and stopped moving, backing away from them and then began pacing back and forth on Playcamp Road still holding the sword in his hand. Officers did lower their weapons once Minassian had backed away from Lieutenant Chase.
Minassian continued to yell out to Lieutenant Chase saying, “You can’t help me.” Continuing to insist that he was being investigated for selling drugs. Lieutenant Chase told Minassian that he knew that he was not selling drugs because he heads the investigation division for Salem Police Department. Lieutenant Chase told Minassian that he could get him to a hospital so he could talk with someone, but that he needed to just drop the weapon. It was during this time that Sergeant Joel Dolan requested to dispatchers that a less than lethal beanbag device be brought out to the scene, while Officer Ryan Sambataro was ordered to go over a fence with a taser so he could position himself between Minassian and the homes on Playcamp Road. Sergeant Dolan also ordered aloud to officers to be ready to handcuff Minassian should it be necessary and Officers Nicosia and MacKenzie both responded to the request. It was at that moment that Minassian stopped
yelling and turned towards the group of officers positioned on South Policy Street near Officer MacKenzie’s police cruiser. Officers were positioned approximately 40 feet away from the suspect. Minassian then raised the sword to his head so that the tip of it was pointing down and in front of him and he then began sprinting at the officers with the sword screaming at them. Every officer repeated the order to drop the sword but Minassian continued to sprint towards all of them armed with the sword. In response Sergeant Joel Dolan, Detective Eric Tine and Officer Michael White fired their guns several times at Minassian when he was about 10 feet away from them. The suspect was struck several times by bullets fired at him by the officers being struck in the left leg, torso and hip, dropping to the ground about eight feet from the officers. Lieutenant Chase had also
Is It Time For You To Be Held ACCOUNTABLE?
FREE MONTH OF TRAINING!
Don’t Fall Short Of Your New Year’s Resolution! Start Today!
A Community Patriot reader captured this snow statue on Granite Avenue on Monday before the storm hit the area.
r a y
Looking for a better way
Well, look no further!
Call 880-1516 or visit us at
• Weight Training • Cardio Training
• Nutrition Counseling • ACCOUNTABILITY
Our Sole Responsibility Is
To Help Women Transform Their Bodies & Lives!
We Only Work With Those That Are Truly Committed & Ready! Are You Next?
224 North Broadway | Salem Market Place Salem, NH 603-458-2630 Open an account at a branch or online at servicecu.org/patriot
• 877.311.3592 Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. National Credit Union Administration, a U.S. Government Agency
Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. National Credit Union Administration, a U.S. Government Agency. *If you meet your eligibility requirements of direct deposit of entire net pay into a ServicePlus Checking (account), plus a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in the account, and E-statements for the month, we refund Service Credit Union (SCU) ATM fees, ATM surcharges, and Visa® International Service Assessment Fees (ISA) resulting from SCU card use. Refunds will be applied to account on first business day of the following monthly cycle that the rebate eligibility requirements were met. The rebate benefit is only available for ServicePlus+ checking accountholders. If the total income reportable equals $600 or more in a taxable year, the credit union may issue you a 1099-MISC. Must be a member of SCU or eligible for membership to open.
deployed his taser but at least one prong missed Minassian resulting in no electrical charge being delivered.
Officer MacKenzie approached the suspect
and kicked the sword away from him as well as the knife from his back pocket, a chef’s knife with a blade approximately 12-inches long. Officers handcuffed the suspect and Salem Fire Department personnel immediately moved in to treat him for his injuries. Larry Minassian was taken by Salem Fire Department to a local hospital and from their was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA where he remains in critical but stable condition. No Salem police officers were physically injured in the incident, but several were taken to Parkland Medical Center in Derry to be checked out and to be sure that they were alright.
It is routine in the State of New Hampshire that the State Police Major Crimes Unit and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office handle all officer involved shooting investigations through the State Police Homicide Unit even if a death has not occurred.
Immediately following the incident on January 6 Sergeant Joel Dolan of Salem Police Department ordered that all officers do not touch anything and that the Attorney General’s office be contacted immediately. It was officers from the State Police Major Crimes Unit that handled and collected all evidence at the scene. The scene was secured for the state police and the Attorney General’s investigation by officers who were not involved in the incident. The Attorney General’s office has concluded that Officer Michael White, Detective Eric Tine and Sergeant Joel Dolan were justified in their use of deadly force against Larry Minassian as he at no time during the confrontation with police complied with their orders to drop his weapon and eventually charged at the officers while armed giving every officer at the scene reasonable doubt that not only did he intend to harm himself but became an imminent threat with intention to use deadly force against the officers at the scene. The Attorney General’s office intends to release a
comprehensive written report in the near future. The last time police in Salem had to use deadly force was on February 5, 2005. In that incident Kip Pepin, 27 of 18 Pleasant Street had threatened another man at Player’s Sports Pub on Main Street. Pepin was found by police hiding in the bushes of his Pleasant Street home armed with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun. A struggle ensued between several officers and Pepin. As Pepin rose to his feet and attempted to shoot a Salem police officer Sergeant Wesley Decker and Officer Brian Bodenrader shot Pepin seven times in the buttocks and lower back. Pepin died on the way to the hospital. Both Decker and Bodenrader were placed on temporary leave and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office ruled the officer involved shooting justifiable by means of self-defense as the officers were doing what they were trained to do - protect the public, themselves, and each other.
83 South Broadway Salem, NH
FLOWER CO. LLC
Ford Flower Special
"Colors of my Love" 1 dozen- $40 2 dozen- $60 3 dozen - $75
Best Deal Around
Order Early! Call NOW
to place orders
(Assorted colors of short stem premium roses)
an emergency exam
Compassionate, Quality Care for Your Pets When They Need It The Most
Now providing emergency care to dogs, cats, birds, and exotic pets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
3 Cobbett's Pond Road. Windham, NH 603-870-9770
No ATM surcharges worldwide.
Zero. Zip. Nada.
limit one coupon per family per visit, expires 12/31/2011
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12