How often does it happen here?

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/22/2016 7:42:58 PM

“That’s not supposed to happen in Peterborough,” said Peter Cross, who lives a short distance from where a police chase ended with the driver shot dead by a police officer. “I pray for our officer.”

And for the most part, it doesn’t.

Police confrontations involving a firearm aren’t unheard of in Peterborough. In December, Peterborough Police Officer Chris Martin was threatened with a gun by Thomas Heissenberger, 22, of Hancock, during an incident on the ConVal athletic fields. Heissenberger even fired a “warning shot” into the ground.

But that incident ultimately ended without bloodshed on either side. And while there have been injuries on either side of a police encounter in the 16 towns that the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript covers, there has not been an officer-involved shooting incident where there was an injury or fatality dating back at least a decade.

There have been 32 officer-involved shootings where a suspect was shot or killed by police in the state since 2005, according to a database compiled by the Concord Monitor.

Of those, 20 resulted in fatalities due to a gunshot, one was a fatality by a self-inflicted gunshot, and the rest resulted in non-fatal injury. There have been four incidents since 2005 where a police officer was shot and killed while on duty.

In all but three of those cases, the shooting was ruled to be justified due to the threat of imminent harm either to the officer or to a third party. In two of those cases, the justification of the shooting was undetermined: One involving the Weare Police Department in 2013 and one involving the Drug Enforcement Administration in Manchester in 2014. Six occurred in Cheshire County. Only one, in Rochester, was ruled to be unjustified, but did not result in charges.

Of those shootings, 12 occurred in Hillsborough County, more than any other county in the state.

In the Weare case, Alex Cora DeJesus, a suspected drug dealer, was shot while attemping to flee from a sting outside a Dunkin Donuts in his car. The shooting officer, Nicholas Nadeau, told investigators he feared for the life of his fellow officer, Ken Cox, who also discharged his weapon at DeJesus during the encounter, but also said that he did not know exactly where Cox was when he fired his weapon. After an eight-month investigation, the attorney general’s office said it couldn’t determine whether the shooting was justified.

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