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AG's Office: Keene police shooting justified

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 09. 2017 9:11PM
The Attorney General's Office has determined that two Keene police officers were justified in shooting a man last month. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Correspondent)

KEENE — The Attorney General’s Office has determined that two Keene police officers were justified in shooting a man last month.

Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald issued a report Wednesday afternoon stating that Keene police Sgt. Christopher Simonds and Officer Mark Cotton were ‘legally justified’ in shooting Patrick Letendre, 28, inside an apartment at 40 Wilford St. in Keene on July 10.

Letendre suffered a single gunshot wound and was hospitalized for treatment after Officer Matthew Bomberg rendered medical assistance until additional emergency responders arrived, the AG’s office reports.

The report is considered preliminary, because criminal charges may be brought against Letendre in the future, the AG’s office said.

According to the report, Sgt. Simonds and Officers Cotton and Bomberg were called to an apartment at 40 Wilford St. around 2:15 p.m. on July 10 by Letendre’s girlfriend — who was not named in the report — who was moving out of the apartment she shared with him and her 3-year¬old daughter. According to the report, the girlfriend requested police assistance in leaving the apartment.

“Sergeant Simonds spent most of his time with Mr. Letendre, while Officers Cotton and Bomberg helped the girlfriend as she packed her car,” the report states. “Initially, Mr. Letendre was compliant and was not aggressive. As time passed, however, he said that he wanted to speak with his girlfriend and became increasingly agitated. At least twice, Mr. Letendre briefly went to the bathroom. When confronted by Sergeant Simonds about his frequent short trips to the bathroom, Mr. Letendre admitted that he did so to drink from a bottle of whiskey that he had hidden in the bathroom.”

The report states that about half an hour after the officers arrived at the apartment, with Letendre becoming more agitated, the police told the girlfriend to leave. The three officers, Letendre’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s daughter then left the apartment. Sgt. Simonds decided to return to speak with Letendre to make sure he did not pose a danger to himself given his observed emotional state and his admitted alcohol consumption, the report said.

According to the report Simonds went back to the house, and saw Letendre open the bedroom door and move his right hand from behind his back, revealing that he was holding a pistol. He then pointed the firearm at his head, the report states, and Simonds unholstered his weapon and pointed it at Letendre, telling him repeatedly to drop his weapon.

Bomberg remained outside the residence with the girlfriend and managed to get her to leave after hearing Simonds tell Letendre to drop his gun. Cotton and Simonds each repeatedly told Letendre to “drop the gun,” the report says, but Simonds told the AG’s office that Letendre kept telling officers to stop yelling and would not drop the gun.

According to the report, Letendre turned his head and upper body to face the officers, then moved his gun to a position where it was pointing at the officers.

Both officers then fired two shots each at Letendre, the AG’s office reports.

“Fearing that Mr. Letendre would shoot at them and could hit either them or nearby people such as the girlfriend and her daughter — whose whereabouts were unknown to those two officers — Sergeant Simonds and Officer Cotton both fired at Mr. Letendre,” reads the report.

Bomberg was returning from his cruiser to the apartment with his rifle when he heard several shots, but he did not fire his weapon, the report says.

According to the report, a bullet entered Letendre’s front lower torso and exited his body near his buttocks.

While the results of tests to show whether the firearm was operable are still pending, the outcome won’t impact “the reasonableness of (the officers’) decision to use deadly force,” the AG’s report says.

The report can be viewed below:

“Based on the information they had at the time, and judging from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, the decision to use deadly force was reasonable,” the AG’s office concluded.

According to police, Simonds has approximately 16 years of law enforcement experience, while Cotton has approximately three years and Bomberg, has six years of law enforcement experience.

The officers were placed on leave while the Attorney General’s Office conducted its investigation.

Simonds and Cotton returned to active duty today, Keene police confirmed.

Crime Keene

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