Colonel John Mawn Jr., Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, tonight released the following statement in response to Berkshire District Attorney Shugrue’s ruling that a State Trooper was justified in his use of lethal force in Hancock on Sept. 9, 2023.
“There is no potential action that a law enforcement officer may have to take that is more significant or serious than the decision to use lethal force.
“No State Trooper or police officer goes to work wanting to use lethal force. The judgement that such an action is necessary, that no other option is available, is a monumental decision, and one that must be viewed in the context of the observations and knowledge available to the officer in that moment.
“The Massachusetts State Police are rigorously trained in, and have a detailed policy that outlines, the appropriate deployment of various levels force, up to and including lethal force, according to the specific circumstances of a situation.
“On September 9 in Hancock, a Massachusetts State Trooper acted appropriately in accordance with that training. As the facts of the incident show, he made remarkable efforts to de-escalate the confrontation with an aggressive, non-compliant suspect armed with two knives. The Trooper repeatedly gave the hostile suspect commands to stop his approach, and repeatedly gave him more space, and then more space again, until the armed suspect finally began to close the last small distance between them and there was no more space to give.
“I commend the Trooper for a tremendous display of restraint, until there was no option to do so further. And for taking immediate lifesaving steps after the individual was down. The professionalism and compassion displayed by the Trooper, under incredibly difficult circumstances are a credit to his courage, training, and character.
“All loss of life is tragic, and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the suspect. That sad loss, however, does not change reasonableness and legality of the Trooper’s actions.
“I would like to thank the Pittsfield Police Officers who responded to back up our Trooper that morning. I am grateful also to Berkshire District Attorney Shugrue for his thorough and unbiased analysis of the facts of this incident and their application to the law.
“Incidents such as this one, and such as today’s police-involved shooting in Lakeville, remind us that there are no routine days for any law enforcement officer.
“Protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth is a challenging and risky endeavor. I am grateful to the men and women of law enforcement and especially those who represent the Massachusetts State Police, who go out into the unknown 24/7/365.”
-Colonel John Mawn Jr.
Massachusetts State Police