AG: Officer-Involved Shooting in Nashua Was Legally Justified

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Attorney General Gordon MacDonald

Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announces that a determination has been made as to the lawfulness of the police officer shooting of William Case (age 59) in Nashua, New Hampshire on September 20, 2019.

At approximately 10:27 p.m. on September 19, 2019, several Nashua Police Officers responded to a residence located at 21 Hunt Street in Nashua, to investigate a criminal threatening complaint. 

An individual had reported to police that a male subject had threatened him as he walked by the driveway of 21 Hunt Street, in Nashua, earlier in the evening.  The complainant alleged that the male subject was brandishing a long-barreled firearm in a threatening manner.

When the officers arrived at the 21 Hunt Street residence, they observed Mr. Case within the residence in possession of what appeared to be a long-barreled firearm.  Mr. Case refused to exit the residence or to relinquish the firearm, but approached the side-door of the home while still holding the firearm. 

The officers moved away from the residence, and additional officers were called to the scene in order to establish a perimeter around the area.

At about 12:26 a.m. on September 20, 2019, Mr. Case opened the side-door of the residence while in possession of the long-barreled firearm.  In the ensuing encounter, Officer Matthew Foss fired one non-lethal beanbag round, striking Mr. Case in his upper abdomen. 

In addition, almost simultaneously, Officer John Colangelo fired one round from his patrol rifle, striking Mr. Case in his chest.  Mr. Case was hospitalized for his wounds and survived.  No other officers discharged their firearms and no one else was physically injured during the incident.  A subsequent search of the residence determined that Mr. Case’s firearm was an air rifle, consistent in appearance with an actual rifle.   

Officer Colangelo’s shooting of William Case constitutes the use of deadly force under the law.  The Attorney General’s Office and the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit have conducted a full investigation to determine whether that use of deadly force against William Case was legally justified. After a review of evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, the Attorney General has determined that Officer Colangelo’s shooting of William Case was a legally justified use of deadly force. 

The Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office has charged William Case in connection with the underlying September 19, 2019 criminal threatening incident. That charge is pending. 

As a result, in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Attorney General’s Office is unable to release further information about its investigation at this time. 

 See N.H. Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6(a) (“A lawyer who…has participated in the investigation…of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”).  

However, when the current legal proceedings against William Case have concluded, the Attorney General’s Office will issue its full report on the investigation into Officer Colangelo’s use of deadly force, with the associated findings and reasoning behind the determination made.

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