DA’s office: Everett officer was justified in killing of armed man

A frame from a video captured of the fatal police shooting of Mario Mejia Martinez in Everett in April.
A frame from a video captured of the fatal police shooting of Mario Mejia Martinez in Everett in April. –Middlesex County District Attorney's office

An Everett police officer was justified in his actions when he shot and killed a knife-wielding man who charged at him in a busy intersection in April, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office has determined.

District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement that there was no criminal conduct involved in the shooting of Mario Mejia-Martinez by Officer Joseph Pepicelli on April 21.

In a 14-page report about the shooting, investigators wrote that Pepicelli was alone when he encountered a belligerent and armed Mejia-Martinez around 4:30 p.m. in Everett Square.

A woman had already called 911 to report Mejia-Martinez’s bizarre behavior.

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“He has a knife sticking out of his pocket and he’s like, talking to himself,” she told the dispatcher in the call released in June. “He seems like, I don’t know, he’s angry.”

Pepicelli, a 21-year police veteran, told investigators when he first saw Mejia-Martinez, he tried to talk to him. He waved, speaking in both Spanish and English.

“Mira,” he recalled saying. “Come here, come here. Let me talk to you.”

When Mejia-Martinez reached for his back pocket, Pepicelli said he told him, “no,” and went for his Taser. When Mejia-Martinez took out a knife, Pepicelli reached for his gun instead, he said.

He turned on his radio and yelled, “Drop the knife.”

Mejia-Martinez charged and Pepicelli told investigators that he thought, “Oh, God. It’s happening.”

Pepicelli shot six times, striking Mejia-Martinez, who fell to the ground.

Another officer had arrived and radioed, “shots fired.”

“Pepicelli made multiple efforts to maintain a distance between himself and the suspect, repeatedly ordering him to drop his knife,” investigators wrote. “Officer Pepicelli fired his weapon only after Mejia-Martinez offensively charged at the officer assaulting him with he knife and [came] dangerously close to actually stabbing the officer.”

Other officers, and civilian witnesses, said they saw the knife in Mejia-Martinez’s hand. Surveillance videos released in June depicted the confrontation.

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Watch the video. Warning: violent content. 

A half hour before the shooting, other witnesses told police that Mejia-Martinez was mumbling nonsense, throwing trash around and chugged liquor before throwing the glass bottle on the street.

Investigators said they weren’t able to determine where Mejia-Martinez was living. He has family in El Salvador and a brother in Everett. Martinez’ brother, Jose Joaquin Mejia Martinez, told The Boston Globe in April after viewing the videos that he did not see his brother holding a weapon or coming toward the officer.

“My brother did not threaten the police,” Mejia Martinez told the newspaper. “That’s a lie.”

The DA’s office report says that Mejia-Martinez’s brother identified him, but it doesn’t indicate that any family was interviewed for the report.

Read the report here.

 

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