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DA: BPD cops did nothing wrong in shooting at man with fake gun outside Brigham and Women's; man later shot dead by police in Brookline

Root and BPD officer

From report: Root (top) approaches Godin, yelling "I'm law enforcement."

Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said today no criminal charges are warranted for the police gunfire outside Brigham and Women's Hospital that injured a hospital valet and sent Juston Root driving down Rte. 9, until he was stopped and shot to death by pursuing officers near the Chestnut Hill Star Market on Feb. 7, 2020.

Hayden released a report by Special Assistant District Attorney John Dawley on the events near the hospital that morning that concluded while it turned out the gun turned out to be a replica - as were two others Root had in his car that day - the two officers did nothing wrong, because they had no way to know that at the time, given what was going on: That one officer, who had fallen as Root approached him with what appeared to be a gun and then heard gunfire as Root kept approaching him, felt he had no choice but to die or fire back at Root and that another officer, approaching Root from another direction, and unaware the man he saw Root struggling with was a fellow officer, fired after Root refused to drop the gun and he heard gunfire as well - which came from the officer who had fallen.

Under the circumstances, the use of deadly force was a lawful and reasonable exercise of self defense and defense of others. Each shooter acted in self defense and defense of others.

[Officer David] Godin was made aware that Root had a firearm, saw Root point a firearm, heard a shot, fell to the ground and saw Root point the firearm and "shoot" at him from mere feet away.

[Officer Michael] St. Peter was made aware that Root had a firearm, saw some of a struggle with a person on the ground on his back and Root pointing a gun at the person and firing. ...

It is reasonable to believe that the participants thought it was a firearm and capable of causing death or serious injury.

Dawley's report states the incident began when Root pulled into a 15-minute parking spot on Fenwood Road shortly before 9:15 a.m., got out and then walked up to a hospital security guard and asked him if he was calling Root in on the radio, and when the guard said no, uttered the N-word, said he was in law enforcement and pulled back his jacket to display a gun in his waistband and some sort of badge on a lanyard.

After asking the guard if he wanted to go back to work, Root shook his hand, got back in his car and drove off - only to return to the area a few minutes later, stopping again, but this time in the travel lane at Fenwood Road and Vining Street. He got out again, showed his gun at two security guards, yelled "What the fuck are you looking at?" at them and then charged them, the report states, adding they fled towards Francis Street.

The report then describes the chaotic scene when two BPD officers approached Root, not knowing the other officer was there. Root at first tried to wave Godin, driving up in his cruiser, towards Francis Street, "as if he were directing attention away from him," the report says. Godin circled the block. St. Peter, approaching in his own cruiser when he was flagged down by one of the guards Root had charged. St. Peter then headed towards Root and his Chevy Volt. Root then briefly chased the guard "with his gun in his hand," before walking back to his car - where Godin, who had completed going around the block, spotted him again, with "his hand on the firearm in his waistband. Root got out and approached him.

Root was within 3 feet of Godin when Root pulled the firearm from his waist and pointed it at him. Godin drew his firearm and yelled "drop the gun." Root continued to point the gun out so Godin attempted to create some space between them by backing up but fell over the curb and onto his back.

He thought to himself get up or he will kill you. Once on his feet, he saw Root right on him. Godin attempted to discharge his firearm but it jammed so he ejected the magazine. He didn't have another magazine nor a radio because it had fallen to the ground so he picked up the ejected magazine and reinserted it.

Root went to the vehicle. Godin could not fire again because he didn't have a good shot and he didn't want to risk a shot as there were too many people nearby. He heards several shots being fired and believed Root was shooting. Godin was unaware that Officer St. Peter was on scene and firing at Root. Root hobbled past him to his car and left the scene.

Godin went to his cruiser and alerted the dispatcher that he was involved in a shooting. "I shot him. I know I shoot him." Godin then joined the pursuit to Brookline.

The report then discusses St. Peter's actions:

St. Peter drew his firearm and yelled "drop the gun" twice. He was still unaware that Root was struggling with another police officer, Godin. He heard shots fired so he discharged his weapon because of the danger involved and he though people were going to die. He saw a man down and a radio on the ground. He saw Root grimace and limp but Root still had the firearm. There were people close by so he didn't discharge again but continued to yell "drop the gun.

Root limped to his car, got in and drove away. St. Peter didn't shoot at the moving car

St. Peter then joined the pursuit to Brookline.

The report states that, together, the two fired 15 shots. Although one hit Root, others traveled a half block and hit a valet working at the hospital's main entrance on Francis Street:

He saw the cruiser do a u-turn and go back down Vining Street from where it had just come from. He then heard a "pop' followed by what he estimates were 4 more "pops" and felt immediate pain to his head. He likened the feeling to being hit in the head with a baseball bat. He fell to the ground and heard someone say that he was shot.

Although the report refers to Root's death in Brookline, it does not discuss it in depth. That scene is under the jurisdiction of the Norfolk County District Attorney's office. Root's family last week called for an independent investigation into his death.

Complete report (17.6M PDF).



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I'll never be able to trust him when it comes to reviewing the actions of the police, even if he had assigned someone else to do the review.

Voting closed 26

Here's why rational people voted the way they did:

Ricardo Arroyo is running for Suffolk County District Attorney with an understanding that the old “tough on crime” way is failed. As DA, Ricardo will make sure that issues like crime and gun violence are public health issues, and build a system that protects the safety and dignity of all people.

Voting closed 2

Arroyo isn't running for DA anymore. He lost in November.

Voting closed 4

Point at a cop and as major Mudd would say, "I'll be blasting you".

Voting closed 3

With a realistic looking fake gun pointing at cops and yelling. The police have no way of knowing this guy's history. I feel for the family but I can't imagine this event having a happy ending.

Voting closed 29

It's too bad that this ended with one cop shooting, then the others heard gunshots and decided they had to start shooting too, without even knowing who was a cop and who wasn't. In a crowded area where a bystander got hit. And then after the chase to Brookline, other cops shot him on sight when he was already half passed out on the ground. It sounds like cops with guns created a safety risk.

Voting closed 4

The only ones to shoot that day were the police and they injured an innocent bystander and killed someone extrajudicially. This is not providing public safety.

Voting closed 4

The Police have concluded that the police did nothing wrong .
The police would like to thank the police for their due diligence

Voting closed 4