Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said today that the state trooper who shot Santos Laboy to death on the Silber Way Footbridge in 2015 was completely justified.
In a report released today, Conley wrote that Laboy, who had been threatening cops since at least 2009, ran away from some BU officers who wanted to question him about pornographic images shoved repeatedly under Beacon Street laundromat's door over several months, jumped onto Storrow Drive, ran through traffic, tried to get into one stopped motorists car, ran away again after officers closed in and sprayed pepper spray at him, then wound up on the Silber bridge, where Trooper Andrew Patterson was standing:
After Mr. Laboy jumped back onto the Esplanade, he began to walk up the ramp to the Silber Way Footbridge. Trooper Patterson was on the bridge and saw Mr. Laboy making his way up the ramp, knife in hand. Civilian witnesses had by this time gathered on Back Street and the portion of the bridge behind Trooper Patterson.
Trooper Patterson drew his weapon and ordered Mr. Laboy at least fifteen times to "stop," "don't move," and "drop the weapon." Mr. Laboy continued moving toward Trooper Patterson. When Mr. Laboy had closed to approximately fifteen feet, Trooper Patterson began to back up in the direction of Back Street with his gun pointed at Mr. Laboy. He continued to order Mr. Laboy to stop and drop his knife.
Mr. Laboy, by then facing Trooper Patterson, ignored his commands and got into a crouching stance. He looked at Trooper Patterson and told him, "I'm not going down. Fuck you. I'm not going down." He then brandished the knife with one hand, put his other hand down on the ground like a sprinter, and then came out of his stance and approached Trooper Patterson.
Fearing for his own safety and the safety of the civilians behind him, Trooper Patterson fired four shots at Mr. Laboy from approximately twenty to twenty-five feet, and Mr. Laboy collapsed.
Conley then concluded that Patterson's use of deadly force was justified:
Given that Mr. Laboy expressed an intent to use his knife against an officer; that he told Trooper Patterson that he was "not going down;" that he approached Trooper Patterson while brandishing a knife; that Trooper Patterson had backed away from the advancing Mr. Laboy for a distance of about 15 feet; and that the two men were on a narrow bridge approximately fifteen feet over a busy four-lane roadway, I conclude that Trooper Patterson's fear for his life was entirely reasonable. In reaching this conclusion, I also note that when Trooper Patterson fired the shots at Mr. Laboy, he appeared to be twenty to twenty-five feet away, a distance that the trooper had a reasonable belief could be crossed in less time than would allow him to defend himself.
Furthermore, as Trooper Patterson had seen Mr. Laboy attempting entry into several cars while armed with a knife and that there were several bystanders at the opposite end of the bridge, I conclude that Trooper Patterson had a reasonable fear that Mr. Laboy would have posed a risk to the lives and safety of the public were he able to get past him and cross the bridge to Back Street.
In considering whether Trooper Patterson's use of deadly force was warranted, I also note that four attempts to use non-lethal force to subdue Mr. Laboy were used to no avail: Officer Manning's attempt to cut Mr. Laboy's flight off with his car, Lieutenant Giannopoulous' unsuccessful attempt to knock Mr. Laboy to the ground with his shoulder, Officer Bouras' attempt to cut off Mr. Laboy's flight by parking his car across the bike path, and Officer Vanaria's attempt to incapacitate Mr. Laboy with pepper spray. Mr. Laboy's determination to escape in the face of this non-deadly force, his threats to Detective Devlin and Trooper Patterson, and his documented threats of violence against law enforcement officers, compel the conclusion that Mr. Laboy would have used his knife against Trooper Patterson had he had the chance to do so. For