The fatal shooting of Bryce Coutinho by a Marlborough Police officer has been ruled justified following an investigation by multiple agencies.
"The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has determined that the response of the officer was justifiable under the law to effect lawful objectives, including the need to protect himself from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury from the subject who ignored repeated warnings to drop the knife and advanced on the officer with that knife in a small confined space with no reasonable means of escape," stated a Press Release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
The investigation, conducted by the attorney's office, state police and Marlborough Police Department found that Police Officer Soren Levenson, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting in November, was justified in the shooting of Coutinho.
The following facts were laid out in a press release from the District Attorney's Office:
On Monday, November 12, 2012, at approximately 8 p.m. three Marlborough police officers responded to 52 Meadow Brook Road on a call from a resident to assist in the removal of an unwanted person from that residence, according to the release. The caller had complained to police that her ex-boyfriend would not leave their house, and was trying to hurt himself.
Marlborough Police Officer Soren Levenson entered the residence. He was told that Coutinho had a history of mental health issues and was on medications for those issues, according to the report. Levenson found Coutinho lying on a bed in a room upstairs with a fresh bloody cut to his forearm.
The officer was kicked by Coutinho who was near a knife on the bed. Upon seeing the knife, the officer, believing himself to be in danger, backed up and drew his service weapon, according to the release. Levenson retreated backwards, while Coutinho grabbed the knife and advanced towards him "menacingly." The officer repeatedly demanded that the subject drop the knife — loudly enough for others downstairs to hear him, according to the release.
The officer backed up to a doorway leading to a small landing. Coutinho reportedly came within 5 to 6 feet of Levenson who, believing his life was in danger and knowing that he had no room to create a safe distance between himself and the subject, discharged his weapon twice, striking the Coutinho, according to the report. Although the officers on the scene attempted life saving measures, Coutinho was pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigation included interviews with multiple witnesses at the scene, interviews of the responding Marlborough Police Officers, ballistics examination of evidence found at the scene, and analysis of radio transmissions, police reports and statements.
Based upon the results of this investigation, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has determined that the response of the officer was justifiable under the law. In Massachusetts, a person may use deadly force to defend himself, according to the press release, if the person has reasonable grounds to actually believe that he is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and that no other means would suffice to prevent such harm.
The matter has been referred back to the Marlborough Police Department so that they may perform whatever internal administrative review of the incident they deem appropriate, according to the District Attorney's Office.