An investigation into a fatal police-involved shooting in Boston last year has found that the officer who shot and killed a man who was threatening EMTs with a knife used lawful deadly force.
Terrence Coleman, 31, was shot and killed on Oct. 30, 2016 while he was inside a narrow South End foyer after he used a kitchen knife during an attack on EMTs and police officers who ran inside to help.
Evidence, including photographs, dispatch transmissions, interviews and reports, showed that Boston Police Officer Garrett Boyle used his service weapon only after Coleman tried to stab and slash EMTs and as he attacked police officers, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said in a statement.
"In reaching these findings, I am keenly aware of the tremendous loss suffered by Mr. Coleman's family members, particularly his mother, whose attempt to seek help for her son ended in his death during an armed confrontation with police," Conley said.
Coleman's mother alerted 911 to have her mentally ill son evaluated after she spoke with his therapist.
Officer Boyle and his partner arrived at the scene a few moments later, and were followed by EMTs.
After speaking with Coleman's mother, who said Coleman would not react well to seeing police, they agreed to let the EMTs enter the home and speak with him while they waited outside.
After the EMTs tried to unsuccessfully engage with Coleman, they followed him to the foyer, where he started talking "urgently, disjointedly, and loudly." He pulled a kitchen knife from an opaque bag, shoved one of the EMTs to the ground, and started stabbing at him, the DA said, while the other EMT radioed for help. The EMT was not injured.
Boyle and his partner Officer Kevin Finn rushed inside and tried to restrain Coleman, but Coleman ignored the officers' commands and continued to stab and slash at the officers.
Finn lost control of Coleman's arm, and then Boyle fired two shots, hitting Coleman in the abdomen, according to the DA.
Coleman was taken to Tufts Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.
In his final report, DA Conley said this case reflects the continuing need between agencies and professionals to develop pre-crisis strategies to help the mentally ill.
"Insurers, hospitals, mental health facilities, individual care providers, public health and public safety agencies, and the community at large all have an interest in safe, effective treatment for people living with mental illness and adequate support for their families and caregivers," Conley said in a statement.