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AG rules Belmont officer justified in use of deadly force

Union Leader Correspondent

November 21. 2017 5:11PM
New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald, flanked by from right, Assistant Attorney General John Kennedy, Belmont Police Chief Mark Lewandoski, Belknap County Attorney Andrew Livernois and the head of the N.H. State Police Major Crimes Unit, announces that Belmont Police Cpl. Evan Boulanger was legally justified in using deadly force during a Sept. 30 shooting at the Irving gas station. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Joseph Mazzitelli

BELMONT — A local police officer was justified when he fired two shots into a man who simultaneously shot himself in the head, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announced Tuesday.

Investigators in a 24-page report detail the Sept. 30 incident at the Irving station at the corner of Plummer Hill Road and Route 106. Belmont Cpl. Evan Boulanger was in line to buy a bottle of water when he spotted a familiar face at the pumps about 2:40 p.m.

The officer ran the vehicle's plate and radioed the emergency dispatcher to confirm an active warrant for Joseph Mazzitelli, 46.

Boulanger was not wearing a body camera when he approached Mazzitelli, nor was his police cruiser equipped with one, but the incident was captured on store video surveillance.

The officer pulled his cruiser behind Mazzitelli's vehicle and informed him there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a harassment charge involving his estranged girlfriend, identified as Ruby Lane.

Mazzitelli became agitated, but appeared more upset about the circumstances than with police, Boulanger told investigators. The officer frisked Mazzitelli but didn't find a weapon.

According to the report, in the interest of de-escalating a tense situation, Boulanger allowed Mazzitelli to retrieve a lighter from the glovebox to smoke a cigarette.

The officer watched as Mazzitelli's left hand reached into the glovebox; his right hand reached down toward the vehicle's center console. That action, Boulanger told investigators, "made the hairs of the back of his neck stand up."

The officer had Mazzitelli exit the car to smoke a cigarette and resolved not to allow him to get back into the vehicle. But within moments, Mazzitelli went back to his car, opened the driver's door, reached in and locked the back passenger door, telling the officer he was "locking his (expletive) car." Then Mazzitelli abruptly jumped into the driver's seat.

Boulanger tried to drag Mazzitelli out of the vehicle but realized doing so left him unable to draw his service weapon if needed, the report states. The officer retreated to the back of the car.

Mazzitelli, the report says, then got out of the vehicle with a pistol in his left hand and held it to his head as Boulanger drew his own weapon.

Mazzitelli ignored repeated commands to drop the .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic, according to the report. He placed the muzzle against his left temple and pulled the trigger.

Boulanger described for investigators how Mazzitelli "winced" when the gun's hammer snapped down on an empty firing chamber," Assistant Attorney General John Kennedy said.

The officer, Kennedy said, "felt it had taken everything out of (Mazzitelli) and he wasn't going to be able to do it again."

But Mazzitelli lowered the gun to his waist, put a round into the chamber and raised it to his head, the report says.

In that moment, Boulanger told investigators he feared the bullet might hit a passer-by or himself if Mazzitelli fired.

The officer fired twice; Mazzitelli just once.

In the immediate aftermath, Boulanger was unaware Mazzitelli had shot himself, Kennedy said. The autopsy found Mazzitelli was struck twice by 9mm bullets fired from the officer's Sig Sauer pistol. The bullets struck him in the chest and abdomen.

However, the autopsy concluded Mazzitelli died of a "through-and-through" head wound from his own pistol.

Toxicology found Mazzitelli had a large amount of methamphetamine in his blood at the time of his death, the report says. His estranged girlfriend told police that she spoke with Mazzitelli the night before his death and he told her he was not going to make it to his next court date as he was going to kill himself.

Crime Public Safety Belmont

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