AG’s office to conduct investigation

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 7:39PM

When a police officer shoots and kills a suspect, the incident is investigated as any homicide would be.

In the case of the shooting death of Michigan teenager Lane Lesko on Route 136 in Peterborough Tuesday, the Attorney General, in conjunction with the State Police Major Crimes Unit will be investigating, said Jeff Strelzin, senior assistant Attorney General and the chief of the Attorney General’s homicide unit.

“The scene is secured and processed. Evidence is collected and documented,” said Strelzin. “Pysical evidence is collected – ballistics, audio or video evidence – and we speak to any witnesses involved, and that includes private citizens or police officers. Once we have the information, we apply the applicable law and make a determination.”

During the investigation, the status of the police officer is determined by the department he or she works for, said Strelzin, though it is typical for the officer to be placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation. 

Potentially, the attorney general can rule four ways on a shooting:

It was legally justified;

It was not legally justified and the shooting officer should be charged;

It was not legally justified, but the shooting officer should not be charged; or

It is undetermined, which means there is not enough evidence one way or the other.

The process is similar to the one used when a citizen uses deadly force in self-defense, said Strelzin.

Unless charges are brought against the shooting officer, in which case court action would be likely, the attorney general issues a report detailing the determination and evidence backing the determination and makes the case file available for review.

Since 2005, there have been 32 officer-involved shootings in New Hampshire where a suspect was injured or killed. Of those, 29 were ruled to be justified due to imminent harm to an officer or a third party, and three were ruled to be undetermined.

It typically takes about a month for investigation to be complete, said Strelzin, but that time can be extended by specialized forensic testing or the amount of interviews that have to be done.

“It can vary widely depending upon a variety of factors,” said Strelzin.