MANCHESTER — The state attorney general has released additional information regarding a city shooting involving three Manchester police officers who attempted to stop a car chase through downtown on June 3, 2013, showing that authorities found evidence of crack cocaine culprit’s vehicle.
Attorney General Joseph A. Foster had previously announced that the shooting was justified and that officers involved had reason to fear for the public’s safety and their own after the driver rammed a police SUV and accelerated toward officers who were on foot.
The first shots took out a tire in the Jeep, but the driver continued with the chase and more shots were fired into the vehicle. Christopher Varagianis was hit twice in the leg and was taken into custody after the Jeep was boxed in by police vehicles on Merrimack Street.
Varagianis, 37, of Pembroke, was sentenced in April to 10 to 28 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District, to five counts of reckless conduct accusing him of nearly hitting three police officers, a paramedic and a pedestrian. He also received a consecutive 3- to 7-year suspended sentence.
According to the attorney general’s report released Wednesday, the incident began outside the 7 Days Market on Union Street where Varagianis was reportedly found unconscious in his Jeep. He woke up as paramedics and firefighters started to treat him and immediately drove off, nearly running over a paramedic. Mountain bike patrol officers chased him and radioed for assistance.
Two unmarked police cars joined the pursuit. Varagianis refused to pull over and speeded in back alleys and along city streets, nearly hitting a pedestrian. He continued driving recklessly, almost striking three officers who tried to stop him.
Eventually, Varagianis rammed his Jeep into the front of an unmarked Chevrolet Yukon being operated by Detective Michael Lavallee, according to a preliminary report of the officer-involved shooting released last year. The vehicles were locked grill-to-grill, with each driver stepping on the accelerator, while officers standing outside yelled for Varagianis to stop.
Ultimately, three officers fired at Varagianis who was hit in the leg. According to the attorney general’s report, the officers who fired their weapons were Detective Joseph Mucci, who fired two shots at the Jeep’s tires, flattening one of them; Lavallee, who fired at Varagianis as his Jeep broke free; and an unidentified undercover officer who fired after he saw two other officers jump out of the way of the Jeep to avoid being hit.
According to the report, a total of nine shots were fired by the three officers.
Forensic lab analysis shows that crack cocaine and heroin were identified in a pipe and spoon found in the Jeep driven by Varagianis.