Family asks to block release of video of man's shooting death by police
CONCORD — The release of videos that captured the killing of a Canterbury man by two Haverhill police officers has been delayed after an attorney for the victim’s estate filed an emergency petition in Merrimack County Superior Court.
Peter G. McGrath said the videos that show the July 6 shooting death of Hagen Esty-Lennon, 41, are graphic, violent and upsetting. The goal, he said, is to protect Esty-Lennon’s children from television and online broadcasts of the videos.
McGrath said Wednesday that he and his staff viewed the videos, but that family members — including Esty-Lennon's mother, his ex-wife and mother of his two children, ages 7 and 9 — all declined to view it.
“It’s a real tragedy for those two officers involved and a tragedy for the family,” McGrath said. “It’s very unfortunate.”
McGrath filed an emergency petition for preliminary and temporary injunctive relief seeking a delay in the release of the videos on Wednesday. He asked the court to allow him to meet with prosecutors to reach an agreement on what can be released to the news media.
McGrath said a meeting with New Hampshire news outlets will be sought in order to reach agreement on a limited release of certain segments of the video in response to right-to-know requests.
Diane Puckhaber, who represents the mother of the children, has been contacted regarding the petition filing and also agrees, he wrote.
McGrath also wrote that Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan G. Morrill was contacted regarding the petition and she neither agreed nor objected to it being filed. Morrill said Wednesday she will be filing a response to the petition.
The videos were to be released Wednesday, but Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, in a news release, said they now will not be released until the issue is resolved in court.
McGrath said a hearing on the injunction request is set for 1:30 p.m. today.
According to the attorney general’s 14-page report of the shooting, which concluded the killing was legally justified, the video shows Esty-Lennon interacting with the officers for 43 seconds, charging at them with a knife and being shot.
Just minutes before, Esty-Lennon — suffering from what Foster said appeared to be a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest — attempted to drive his SUV over the closed Bath Bridge, near the intersection of Routes 112 and 302. The officers had repeatedly told the 6 foot, 1 inch, 275-pound Esty-Lennon to drop the knife.
Initially, Haverhill police officer Greg Collins took out his stun gun, but as Esty-Lennon charged toward him and officer Ryan Jarvis, both officers fired their .45 caliber handguns five times each, striking Esty-Lennon six times.
Foster’s report said a toxicology test found that Esty-Lennon had what were described as “slightly higher than therapeutic levels” of amphetamines in his system as well as the anti-convulsive and anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.