By MARK PRATT
Two Boston police officers who opened fire on a man who had what appeared to be a real gun near a city hospital three years ago, and who was later shot and killed by police following a car chase, were justified in their use of force and should not face criminal charges, according to the results of an investigation released Monday.
“Based on the evidence, we conclude that neither of the involved officers’ actions were objectively unreasonable,” Special Assistant District Attorney John Dawley wrote in the 54-page report released by the office of Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden. “Accordingly, it is not appropriate to charge and the investigation should be closed without prosecution.”
Hayden said he has reviewed the report and agrees with it.
“These cases are always difficult and always tragic, both for the families of the wounded or deceased and for the officers involved,” Hayden said in a statement. “I thank Special ADA Dawley for his thorough investigation into all of the factors involved in this tragic incident.”
The chain of events that led to the death of Juston Root, 41, started just after 9 a.m. Feb. 7, 2020, when police received a 911 call about man with a gun near Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Officers David Godin and Michael St. Peter responded and fired several shots at Root after he pointed what turned out to be a replica firearm at Godin, according to the investigation.
One of the shots appeared to hit Root, who then limped to a car and drove from the area, according to the report. One of the shots fired by the officers struck a hospital valet, but he survived.
Root led police on a 3-mile (5-kilometer) chase to Brookline, where he crashed his car near a shopping center and was shot to death by six officers, investigators said.
The Norfolk district attorney’s office in a separate report released in March 2020 said those members of law enforcement were justified because Root did not show his hands and get on the ground as ordered and moved his hands inside his jacket in a manner “consistent with reaching for a handgun.” The gun turned out to be a BB pistol.
Boston is in Suffolk County and Brookline is in Norfolk County.
Root’s family said in a statement Monday that they disagreed with the decision in the report and reiterated their call for an independent investigation by the state attorney general’s office.
“There are pending proceedings in the court and they expect that when all the facts are presented, the public will know everything that occurred and that those responsible for killing Juston will be held accountable,” the family said.
Root’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against police in August 2020. The complaint said Root, who had bipolar and schizoaffective disorders, posed no threat when police fired dozens of shots at him from just a few feet away.
The lawsuit was dismissed, but Root’s family is appealing.
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