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AG won't reopen probe into fatal shooting by trooper

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 13. 2017 10:44PM

WENDY LAWRENCE 

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald will not reopen the investigation that cleared a New Hampshire State Police trooper in the 2013 shooting death of a Canterbury woman, despite a decision to pay her survivors $750,000, MacDonald’s office said Monday.

Earlier this month, MacDonald signed off on the settlement, which ends a $2 million lawsuit brought against Trooper Chad Lavoie by the grown children of Wendy Lawrence.

The shooting took place in a residential neighborhood in Manchester’s North End.

Lavoie fired 11 shots into Lawrence’s vehicle after police had terminated a miles-long pursuit that started in the Hopkinton area.

Lawrence, 45, had struggled with mental health and addiction issues.

Within three weeks, then-Attorney General Joseph Foster had ruled the killing justified, saying that Lavoie felt his life was in danger and that Lawrence had rammed Lavoie’s cruiser. Lawrence’s estate hired a lawyer, who faulted Foster’s investigators for not examining a “black box,” which records vehicle activity before a crash.

Lawyer Charles Douglas has said the Lawrence car was stopped when Lavoie’s cruiser grazed it.

James Vara, the chief of staff for MacDonald, said he will not reopen the investigation into the shooting.

He said Attorney General Office experts disputed Douglas’ account of the black box.

And he said the other evidence — including witness statements — points to a justified shooting.

“That’s based on the totality of the information we have,” Vara said.

The decision to settle the case was based on a number of factors, including the cost of a trial and the risk of taking the case to a jury, he said.

He directed questions about Lavoie’s employment to the state Department of Safety; state police Col. Christopher Wagner was not available Monday to discuss the case.

Lavoie continues to work as a trooper and was promoted to sergeant in 2015, when the Lawrence case was winding its way through the federal court system.

The lawyer handling the Lawrence suit, Senior Assistant Attorney General Karen Schlitzer, has said the shooting had no effect on his employment.

mhayward@unionleader.com


Courts Public Safety Manchester


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