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DA says Marlborough officer was justified in fatal shooting

Posted by Tom Coakley  February 20, 2013 01:05 PM

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The Middlesex District Attorney’s office has found that a Marlborough police officer was justified in shooting a knife-wielding man after responding to a domestic disturbance in November.

The DA’s office said in a statement that Officer Soren Levenson fatally shot 22-year-old Bryce Coutinho to protect himself after Coutinho refused to put down his weapon.

The District Attorney’s Office, state police assigned to the office and Marlborough police, conducted an investigation into the shooting that occurred on Nov. 12 at 52 Meadow Brook Road in Marlborough.

Based on interviews with witnesses at the scene, interviews of the responding Marlborough police officers, ballistics examination of evidence found at the scene, and analysis of radio transmissions, police reports and statements, officials determined that Levenson was protecting himself and was justified in shooting Coutinho.

“Based upon the results of this investigation, and applying the case law pertaining to the use of deadly force to defend oneself, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has determined that the response of the officer was justifiable under the law to effect lawful objectives, including the need to protect himself from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury from the subject who ignored repeated warnings to drop the knife and advanced on the officer with that knife in a small confined space with no reasonable means of escape,’’ the statement said.

According to the district attorney’s office, three Marlborough officers responded to a call from a resident saying that her ex-boyfriend would not leave the house and was trying to hurt himself. After arriving at the scene, Levenson was directed to the second floor bedroom and was told that Coutinho had a history of mental health issues.

The officer proceeded to the second floor bedroom where he found Coutinho lying on a bed with a fresh bloody cut to his forearm. After seeing a knife, the officer backed up and drew his gun.

According to the statement, “As the Officer retreated backwards, the subject simultaneously got up off the bed, grabbed the knife and held it in a menacing fashion while advancing toward the officer. The officer repeatedly, and loudly enough for others downstairs to hear him, demanded that the subject drop the knife, to no avail.’’

The statement from the district attorney’s office said Coutinho came closer to the officer, who had backed up near small landing and did not have much room to maneuver.

“As the subject came within 5-6 feet of the officer, the officer believing his life was in danger and knowing that he had no room to create a safe distance between himself and the subject, discharged his weapon twice, striking the subject,’’ the statement said.

Officers on the scene attempted to revive Coutinho but he died.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has referred the matter back to the Marlborough Police Department.

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