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.
“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.
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.