NH AG clears DEA in botched drug raid, says shooting of grandmother was 'simply accidental'
MANCHESTER — The shooting of a grandmother during a drug raid this summer was accidental and no charges will be brought against the federal agent involved, New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster announced Thursday.
Lillian Alonzo, 49, suffered non-life-threatening injuries when she was shot in her 110 Beech St. apartment on Aug. 27.
The investigation determined that the handgun of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Michael Connolly discharged when the agent tried to kick in a locked bedroom door and lost his balance.
The report said Connolly will not face criminal charges.
While the shooting was serious and unfortunate, the report reads, it was accidental.
“There is no evidence of serious blameworthiness in this conduct,” it says.
Alonzo has returned to her apartment, said her son in a telephone interview from Florida. No one was home when a reporter and photographer visited Thursday afternoon.
The son, Daniel Nunez, said the bullet, which went through Alonzo’s left arm and penetrated her torso, remains lodged in her ribs. Medicaid has not paid for Alonzo’s physical therapy, which he said she needs to regain control of the arm.
He said that based on the layout of the room, he thinks it is impossible that his mother could have been shot by someone who was facing the door.
“She says she was innocent,” he said his mother told him after the shooting. She then added: “I don’t know why they came to my home.”
In the meantime, the apartment was ransacked and furniture was destroyed in a fruitless search for drugs, he said.
“They should give my mom the help she needs. They destroyed everything; they tore up the apartment,” Nunez said. He said the DEA should apologize for its actions.
The raid coincided with the arrest of two of Alonzo’s adult daughters and others on trafficking charges involving oxycodone. The family has said no drugs or weapons were found in Alonzo’s Beech Street apartment.
Alonzo has not been charged with any crimes, and federal prosecutors have said that is unlikely.
The DEA referred a reporter to Foster’s office, and would not respond to an email asking about an apology and therapy bills.
“Thanks for the opportunity ... but we have nothing to add,” DEA spokesman Anthony Pettigrew said.
According to the eight-page report, Alonzo, along with a friend named Delores Minaya, Alonzo’s daughter and Alonzo’s two grandchildren, were in the apartment at the time of the raid.
Alonzo told authorities she was in the kitchen with at least five officers, who were armed with long guns. “She heard a shot and then felt the shot,” the report said.
Alonzo, her 10-year-old daughter and Minaya gave brief statements to authorities at the scene, but Attorney General’s Office investigators could not find them later, the report said. In her initial comments, Minaya told authorities that she and Alonzo were grabbing the children when Alonzo was shot.
Alonzo’s family has been speaking to an attorney about the incident, Nunez said.
Connolly and officers involved in the raid consented to interviews, the report reads.
Once the six armed agents entered the apartment, they quickly searched the bedrooms.
One was locked, and Connolly kicked the locked door twice to open it. The second time, his boot went through the hollow door, which splintered and caught the boot as he tried to retract his leg.
“Because he was caught with his left foot in the door, Connolly began to stumble toward his right shoulder, falling into the open room where he was standing,” the report reads.
As he stumbled backward, he heard a gunshot. Once he regained his feet, Connolly saw his left arm was locked and the handgun looked extremely black.
“He saw his trigger finger along the slide of the gun. He did not remember feeling recoil.
“He felt time slow down and wondered if the shot he heard was from him. He wondered how that happened,” the report reads.
As Connolly regained his hearing, he realized that his fellow officers thought they were being shot at. Connolly holstered his gun and told his fellow officers he had an accidental discharge.
The report concluded that Connolly had exercised reasonable care.
His handgun was pointed down and his finger was off the trigger while kicking the door.
“It was only because he fell backward and his left hand hit the door frame that the gun fired,” the report reads.
Alonzo’s daughters still face federal drug charges; they are grown women and should know better, Nunez said.
But he said his mother has nothing to do with drugs and doesn’t even drink alcohol.
“That woman has killed not even a cockroach,” he said