NASHUA — A city police officer who shot a man during a lengthy standoff last September was legally justified in his use of potentially deadly force, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has determined.
On Friday, the Attorney General’s office announced that Officer John Colangelo acted legally when he fired one round from his patrol rifle at William Case, 59.
The incident began about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Case’s residence, 21 Hunt St., when a person reported that Case had threatened him — with a long-barreled firearm in his hands — as he walked by his driveway.
When police arrived, a standoff began. Case “refused to exit the residence or to relinquish the firearm, but approached the side door of the home while still holding the firearm,” according to a statement from Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald.
About two hours later, Case opened the side door while holding the firearm.
“In the ensuing encounter, Officer Matthew Foss fired one non-lethal bean bag round, striking Mr. Case in his upper abdomen,” said the release. “In addition, almost simultaneously, Officer John Colangelo fired one round from his patrol rifle, striking Mr. Case in his chest.”
Case survived the shooting, but did receive medical treatment following the incident. It was announced Friday that the firearm Case was brandishing was an air rifle that looked like a real rifle.
According to the AG’s statement, the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit and the Attorney General’s Office conducted a full investigation to determine whether Colangelo’s use of force against Case was legally justified.
“After a review of the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, the Attorney General has determined that Officer Colangelo’s shooting was a legally justified use of deadly force.”
Colangelo has been a police officer for 10 years. Foss has been an officer for four years.
Several neighbors were temporarily evacuated during the standoff last September while SWAT teams arrived in an effort to resolve the situation.
Neighbors said at the time that police worked throughout the night to make contact with the resident and eventually used tear gas to help lure him outside.
“He was getting evicted from his house,” neighbor Alicia Thomas said earlier.
Thomas said she and other neighbors called the police several times about incidents involving their neighbor, who they know only as Bill.
Neighbors said previously that police had been to the 21 Hunt St. residence several times in 2019. Thomas said Case previously threw garbage in her pool and threatened to kill her cats.
Case is still facing a charge of criminal threatening for the incident that led to the officer-involved shooting. Once that case is resolved, the Attorney General’s Office is expected to release a full report on the investigation into Colangelo’s use of deadly force, according to the statement.
In a separate incident, Case was arrested on Sept. 4, 2019 by Nashua police and charged with simple assault, resisting arrest and theft of services. That case is pending.