Video clip records fatal Fenway shooting
A dramatic 30-second video clip recorded the moment a Boston police officer fired into a crowd on Lansdowne Street last month, capturing horrified screams as those nearby realized a 21-year-old woman had been struck and lay bleeding on the sidewalk.
Patrolman Rochefort Milien fired the fatal shot, but was not aiming at Victoria E. Snelgrove, police said yesterday in a statement that disclosed numerous new details about the Oct. 21 shooting and the events that led up to officers firing pepper pellets at fans celebrating the Red Sox pennant victory.
A college student captured the shooting on video, focusing his camera on Milien as the officer stepped forward in the street. Milien fired two shots from a pepper-pellet gun that was tucked into his shoulder, aimed at head level. Then voices on the video clip called out, ''They hit her in the eye" and ''You [expletive] killed her," as the camera panned toward the sidewalk, where a man in the crowd signaled for help.
Snelgrove, who is not visible in the clip, died hours later. Two Globe reporters were allowed to view the video shot by the college student, who previously showed the material to police and lawyers involved in the investigation of the Snelgrove shooting.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. yesterday, police released the statement with the new information, including for the first time the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot.
A few hours earlier, the Globe had requested comment about the contents of the video clip, which the reporters were allowed to view on the condition that the person who provided access not be identified. Police did not comment on the video clip.
The police statement said that crowds in the Kenmore Square area had turned violent after the game, throwing projectiles, lighting fires, and attacking two cars, one trying to turn onto Lansdowne from Brookline Avenue, and another that turned onto the street from a commercial garage. The crowds caved-in the roof of the second car, smashed the window, and apparently tried to turn it over, police said.
Deputy Superintendent Robert E. O'Toole Jr., the commander of police operations in the area, sent officers on horseback to rescue the car's occupants, and they were able to clear a path for them to exit. The statement said the officers on horseback were surrounded by crowds at some point, and some people threw bottles, coins, and flaming papers at them, igniting one horse's tail.
In response to the violence, O'Toole authorized the use of FN303 pepper-pellet guns to control the crowds, according to the statement. O'Toole, Milien, and Patrolman Samil Silta fired the weapons ''at targeted individuals" in the crowd, the statement said, striking at least four people. The statement said Snelgrove was struck when a pellet ''missed its intended target," who was not identified.
Two officers involved in weapons training at the department have said Silta and O'Toole were not trained to use the weapon. Yesterday's statement noted that Milien is a grenadier and a certified instructor on the FN303 gun.
The police statement presented the events sequentially, but did not list a time for each incident. Witnesses at the scene say the violence the police statement describes occurred several minutes before Snelgrove was shot, 10 minutes by some accounts, 30 by others.
The 20-year-old Northeastern University student who shot the video clip of Milien firing the gun said there was a gap between the rowdy behavior and the shooting.
''By that time in the night, things were less rowdy . . . than they had been," said the student, who asked not to be identified. He added, ''I don't think the car had anything to do with Victoria getting shot, because it was over.
''I didn't know what he would be shooting at and I was trying to figure it out," the student said. ''No one was around."
The video shows that only police were in close proximity to Milien. When the camera pans to the sidewalk, the crowds appear relatively calm, except for those near Snelgrove, calling for help.
Chris Borgesani, a freelance cameraman who was nearby, also said the violence had cooled significantly by the time of the shooting.
''It looked to me like they had control and were deescalating the situation," Borgesani said.
Thomas Drechsler, who represents Milien, could not be reached for comment after police released the statement identifying his client as the officer who fired the fatal shot.
Speaking earlier yesterday, Drechsler said Milien was not ''firing wildly or haphazardly."
''The use of the weapon was focused on individuals who presented a threat to the officers, some of whom were hurling projectiles and bricks at the officers," the lawyer said.
The video clip of the shooting viewed by the two Globe reporters showed the following:
The cheering, chanting crowd on Lansdowne Street had stilled to a dull, churning hum after police cleared the girders under the Green Monster seats and began pushing people toward Brookline Avenue. Smoldering material, some still flaming, littered the roughly 40-foot clearing where Milien stood, pointing a gun at shoulder height toward the receding revelers.
Four officers stood behind him, one on each side and two farther back on the Fenway Park sidewalk. None of the other officers was holding a weapon, and they were not engaging the crowd. They stood with their hands at their sides or clasped behind their back. Then, Milien began to walk forward. He took a step with his right foot and fired. Camera flashes reflected off white cross-straps on his chest as he stepped with his left foot.
A man in the crowd swore loudly.
Then a step with the right foot again. Bang -- a second shot in the same direction.
Within seconds, screams and expletives from the crowd are heard.
''Did you see that?" one voice said.
''What happened?" another asked.
''I don't know, but she's on the floor, and she's [expletive] dead," a voice said.
''It looks like they hurt her or something."
''You hit her in the eye."
''You [expletive] killed her."
''Look at her. She's like not even moving."
As the camera panned toward the crowd, Milien began to step backward. Above Snelgrove, amid a crowd on the sidewalk about 25 feet from Milien, a man dressed in black jumped up and down, flailing his hand, signaling for help and yelling, ''Yo!"
Then the camera was jostled, the view obscured.
The student who shot the video clips said he showed them to his girlfriend and two roommates before taking them to police about a week after the shooting. The student said he was distraught about Snelgrove's death and torn about his role as a key eyewitness with evidence, so he waited before going to authorities.
''I had to make sure something was done with the video after I got it, because I knew other people deserved to see what happened," the student said.
The clips were shot with a Canon S30 digital camera, which can shoot still photographs or film short videos with audio. The 79 photos and clips the student shot that night show crowd activities on Lansdowne Street before, during, and after the shootings.
Shelley Murphy and Andrea Estes of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Donovan Slack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Suzanne Smalley can be reached at email@example.com.