State trooper hit by car in Neponset Circle, at least one other trooper shoots at car

UPDATE: State Police report arresting Brandon Smith, 25, of Dorchester at the Saint Francis House, a homeless shelter on Boylston Street, where he was detained by Boston Police around 2 p.m. He's scheduled for arraignment tomorrow in Dorchester District Court on a charge of receiving stolen property - the stolen car that hit the trooper.

State and Boston police launched a massive manhunt across Dorchester and Mattapan this morning after a trooper directing traffic at Neponset Circle was hit by a stolen car whose driver fled the scene even as at least one other trooper started shooting at him.

Boston Police found the gray 2012 Yaris with Connecticut plates - stolen from a rental agency at TF Green Airport two weeks ago - abandoned on Dyer Street. Police brought in search dogs and helicopters to aid in the search for two local men with long hair who may have fled along the Fairmount Line train tracks, from which one officer had to jump in the face of an oncoming train, which came to a stop about 100 yards from his position.

State Police say the number of shots and exactly which troopers fired them remains under investigation. However, they classified the weapon discharge as self defense - about 15 minutes after another trooper lost sight of the Yaris speeding down Burgin Parkway in Quincy:

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a motorist called State Police to say she was behind a silver car that was operating erratically heading northbound on the Neponset Street Bridge from Quincy into Dorchester. At that time, state troopers working a Neponset Street Bridge detail attempted to stop the car, the same vehicle that had been observed by the trooper several minutes earlier in Quincy. With the vehicle slowed in traffic, three troopers approached the vehicle on foot. At the bottom of the bridge, the operator attempted to flee by turning and driving into the northbound lane, against the flow of traffic. Preliminay investigation indicates two men were in the vehicle. In their attempt to escape, the car struck Trooper Scott Flaherty and narrowly missed running him over as he was laying on the ground. A trooper or troopers then discharged their duty weapons. Preliminary investigation indicates that the troopers' discharged their weapons in self-defense, in order to protect their own safety.

Flaherty was taken to Mass. General with back, leg and arm injuries, including a fracture, State Police say.

A Dorchester blogger who goes by the name DotRat reports he watched the whole thing unfold from about 200 yards away on the Neponset Bridge:

The car tried to cross the open median strip into oncoming traffic. Cop on detail tried to stop him and he got bumped to the ground. Two other detail cops from the intersection ran up to assist, one opened fire on the car as it sped into incoming traffic under the expressway, then took a left onto Gallivan. You could see smoke coming from the tailpipe, he driver was nailing the gas pedal. All three troopers looked kind of shocked but physically OK.

TechBoston Academy and several other schools were put into "safe mode" as the hunt progressed - classes continued as normal, but no one was allowed into or out of the buildings. Neponset Circle was shut as police investigated the incident. Red Line riders reported a high number of MBTA police on trains traveling through Dorchester.

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Comments

Yikes!

I'm always kind of amazed that the troopers who direct traffic at that intersection don't get hit with the madness of morning rush hour. Obviously the car thieves are not local or they would have known that route is not a fast getaway.

EDIT: NEVER MIND

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Two other detail cops from the intersection ran up to assist, one opened fire on the car as it sped into incoming traffic under the expressway

POST REDACTED: In light of recent widespread conclusion-jumping, I'm going to put away my Jump to Conclusions Mat and wait until more information is available.

But I stand by 'f-ck tha police', just in general.

wow

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"one opened fire on the car". If cops were open firing on you would you pull over and risk death? LOL, the cop was "bumped" to the ground. I have nothing else to say (for now).

Being a cop is a thankless

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Being a cop is a thankless job...either they are around when you don't want them to be or not around when you need them. Either way the car thief could have killed someone. The car at that point was the weapon and the cop did the right thing. What if some little kids got killed while sitting in a vehicle because of this dbag.

Cops aren't always the enemy....

No the cop didn't do the

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No the cop didn't do the right thing. Are you suggesting that any accident victim has a right to kill the offender? Also I would argue that earning 160 grand a year is definitely not thankless.

Wrong answer

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Sorry, but cops aren't "any accident victim". A cop telling you to pull over has begun an encounter with you. You are obligated to obey his lawful orders. Coming anywhere close to striking him with your car as you cross a median and head into oncoming traffic is NOT obeying his lawful order and makes your car a weapon of deadly force.

Does the cop have to wait for you to be parked on top of him before he's allowed to defend himself with equal force?

Hmmm

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It's not clear whether the cop fired at the car as it was speeding towards him (in which case I'd agree that it would be self defense), or if he fired while the vehicle was fleeing in the opposite direction. Would it make a difference to your argument?

Not really

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If he's fleeing with his deadly weapon having already used it to attack an officer, he's proven propensity to use a deadly weapon and can not be reasoned with at this time. Do I have to wait for him to use his deadly weapon again before I'm allowed to shoot?

Imagine if it were a gun and not a car. He shoots at me and then starts running the other way. Do I just chase him and keep my weapon holstered, knowing full well he intends to kill me, my partner, or possibly an innocent bystander...just not this second?

Do I just chase him and keep

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Do I just chase him and keep my weapon holstered, knowing full well he intends to kill me, my partner, or possibly an innocent bystander...just not this second?

Of course not, Kaz. You do what the cops in the story did... which is shoot at the person in a public place, surrounded by innocent bystanders who might get hit by your stray bullets. Amirite? Thanks, apologizer.

Of course, if I am going to get shot as an innocent bystander, I'd rather it was by a police officer than a criminal. I, or my family, could at least sue the state and get some money out of it.

Proof?

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...surrounded by innocent bystanders who might get hit by your stray bullets.

Any proof for that?

In our "innocent before proven guilty" society we live in, I am giving the officer the benefit of innocence in assuming he observed that his downrange was clear before opening fire.

Shooting at fleeing car <> 'defending'

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It sounds like these car thieves are crazy and dangerous and I hope they catch the maniacs. But did the officer who allegedly shot at the car (who was not, by the account above, the one who was bumped) give any thought as to where his bullets might end up as he fired at a car driving into "oncoming traffic"?

The account above does not have enough detail to tell exactly where everyone was in relation to each other, but it doesn't sound like self-defense to me. It sounds like the police officer who fired might have acted instinctively but incorrectly.

See above, and also...

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See my response above. Also, one would hope he gave a thought to where the bullets would end up. It's part of gun safety training (not just police training). It's not necessarily about self-defense but also stopping someone wielding a deadly weapon (see above).

As far as "oncoming traffic", as you say, we don't know the positions of all of the players. It's entirely possible that traffic was stopped or non-existent in those lanes (the suspect was able to get all the way to Gallivan without running into anyone head-on) so the officer firing had a clear field downrange and only the car in his sights.

Changing your justification now

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First you implied the officer was justified in shooting in "self defense". When it was pointed out that the officer in question was not the one who was assaulted, nor necessarily in the area of effect for the car, it's now about stopping someone with a "deadly weapon" aka a car.

Yes, a car can be used to injure/kill, but it does not appear as though that was the primary intent of the driver - the account linked above talks about the driver turning around on the bridge in an effort to escape the police (of course, we can't know what was inside the driver's head, but given his actions subsequent to this, fleeing the scene seems to have been uppermost in his mind - if he wanted to injure a policeman, he probably could have done more than 'bump' him as he crossed the median).

There's no mention that the driver or the passenger had shown violent intention previously, nor is there any report of them causing violence subsequent. They appear to be thieves, not murderers. Still bad guys, and I hope they're captured and convicted. But not shot on the street.

You do understand that the police can score less than 100% and still be the good guys, right? Coming to the aid of their fellow officers = good, trying to stop car thieves = good, firing at fleeing car on crowded highway = bad.

That's funny (Pete, are you seeing this?)

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I'm getting accused of siding with the police too much, Pete. Did you think you'd see the day?

Yes, I think there are more than one situation when officers are justified in using deadly force. Yes, my first comment was about self-defense. Yes, my second comment was about public defense. You tell me if you know for certain which officer fired at the car and I'll tell you which justification for the shooting is required. I stand by both justifications...and about a dozen others that aren't being discussed. I don't see how that makes my point any less relevant.

You state that we can't know what's inside the driver's head. Correct. We can only evaluate their actions. They did not stop for police and they hit one with a car. You don't know what kind of angle or anything else they had on their ability to "do more than bump him". You also don't know how "crowded" the highway was at that time. What you know is that they intended to flee and did not care about that officer's life in doing so. Based on those actions, they are dangerous and potentially deadly. The police have a duty to respond safely in kind because, as you said, they can't possibly know the person's intentions and there is no benefit of doubt any more since they've already acted once in a potentially deadly reckless manner with a weapon. The only question would be if the officer followed gun safety in discharging into a safe downrange.

safely?

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The police have a duty to respond safely

The only question would be if the officer followed gun safety in discharging into a safe downrange.

I don't think that's the only question, but I am glad that you agree with me that this is an important question which will need to be answered.

Oh I see it Kaz

And I'm not sure which side I'm on.

One of the main factors in using deadly force is whether or not the public is going to be safe if deadly force isn't used. We're these people going to kill or attempt to kill more people if the cops didn't try to stop ( kill) them?

I agree with your running away with a gun scenario, but shooting at moving vehicles is a hot topic in law enforcement now and policies are usually pretty clear about shooting at fleeing vehicles. Like you say, you would have to look at all the factors involved here before we make judgement.

Shooting at a car speeding

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Shooting at a car speeding away is pretty reckless. No way in hell was he going to incapacitate the driver and even if he did, it would result in a crash. More likely than hitting his target, he'd hit somebody or something else.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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If people don't respect the police, where does it end? They certainly don't respect me, or you, or our possessions. I think this gentleman clearly demonstrates all of that by driving someone elses (stolen) car into oncoming traffic, and striking a State Trooper. Unfit for society.

Whoah, Nellile!

Looks like I missed all this commotion by a scant 10 minutes! I drive through that mess every day, both to and from work.
Uphill.
Both ways.
In the snow.

Trooper stopped the trains

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Well this is a first a Trooper stopping train service dead in its tracks. Thank God they didn't shoot the train up. In all seriousness the last thing we need right now is an inner city kid to get shot like in fla and Pasedena.

Neponset is always pretty

Neponset is always pretty crowded that time of day due to the bridge construction. Missed it by 30 minutes on my daily commute but now I will be much more nervous knowing those time and a half statie details have itchy trigger fingers.

A stolen econocar and 5-0 goes all Rambo on us? Really?

C'mon, it's a rental. I see them up in my hood all the time. The smarter move would have been to follow them to the drug pickup they were headed to.

State Police traffic procedures

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For the life of me I don't understand why Staties are always out in the middle of mid- to high-speed traffic.
I've travelled and lived outside MA and have never seen this like you do here. CHP certainly doesn't do it. Haven't seen it up and down the Eastern seaboard. But it seems like it's State Police policy.

Seems like it's policy. They don't even have their cruiser lights on half the time, which would slow people down before they come up on the trooper. Come around a turn at 35 to even 55 mph and there's a Statie in the middle of the road.

Doesn't make sense in the 21st century except in true emergency situations. I've seen them doing it at speed traps and just directing traffic.

Anyone have any insight into this?

(Hope the trooper is OK, and I'm not referring to his specific experience, of which the facts aren't yet clear.)