By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
David Donovan’s methamphetamine use caused him to become violent, paranoid, and delusional in the months leading up to his fatal encounter with Meredith police, according to Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward.
Ward gave a briefing on the investigation into Donovan’s shooting by Meredith Police Officer Kevin O’Reilly, which is considered a justified shooting by the Attorney General’s Office.
O’Reilly encountered an angry and “scary” Donovan who was armed with more than one knife, and bloody from just having stabbed his mother’s boyfriend, according to Ward. Before O’Reilly shot Donovan, there were multiple attempts to get him to drop the weapons. At one point, Officer Christopher Heney shot Donovan with a Taser, but he simply pulled out the wire and taunted the officers, according to Ward.
“Is that all you’ve got,” he reportedly said to Heney and O’Reilly.
O’Reilly gave multiple commands for Donovan to drop the knives, which Donovan refused. He raised his arms and started coming at O’Reilly, according to Ward. When he was within 10-feet, O’Reilly shot Donovan twice. He was given emergency medical treatment by O’Reilly and Heney, but he died from the gunshot wound to his abdomen.
Donovan, 35, was staying with a friend at 10 Bennett Drive in Meredith, not far from his mother’s house, when the fatal shooting happened on the night of Nov. 15, 2020. Donovan had been court-ordered to stay away from his mother after he was charged with assault the month before.
On the night of the shooting, he reportedly became violent and started throwing food around his friend, Erica Fry’s house. He also started smashing up the windows. Fry called for help and soon his mother, Dawna Schaub and her boyfriend Theodore Blaisdell, arrived to help get Fry’s children to a safe part of the home.
Donovan had three kitchen knives and stabbed his mother when she was moving the children. He later chased down Blaisdell outside and repeatedly stabbed him, according to Ward.
Ward described Donovan as descending into a spiral of methamphetamine-induced mental illness like believing his mother and Blaisdell were devils coming to kill him, and that his room was covered with snakes, according to Ward.
Meredith police had been called to Schaub’s house multiple times to deal with Donovan between January of 2020 and the October assault, according to Ward. Donovan’s toxicology report indicated that his blood alcohol content was .16 percent, and that he had methamphetamine and THC, the active component in marijuana, in his system.
The attorney general’s full report can be read here: https://www.doj.nh.gov/multimedia/meredith-ois.htm
Donovan’s use of methamphetamine, and the resulting mental health collapse, is reminiscent of other, recent police-involved shootings in New Hampshire.
In October, Ethan Freeman, 37, of Thornton, was shot and killed by Thornton Police Officer Matthew Yao when a naked and bleeding Freeman charged Yao during a confrontation. Freeman had a history of methamphetamine and other drug abuse, as well as a significant history of mental health issues.
In December, Mark Clermont, a felon who was known to be paranoid and carry an assault-style rifle and wear ballistic vest while hunting for alien spacecraft, was shot and killed by New Hampshire State Trooper Matthew Merrill during a gun battle Clermont started. Clermont was known to use methamphetamines.
Deputy Attorney General Jane Young said methamphetamine use is becoming a problem for the Granite State.
“It’s a significant problem that cuts across every part of the state,” Young said.
Donovan, Clermont, and Freeman all changed drastically after they started using the drug, Young said.
“A number of these individuals were very active and loved members of society, but then they started using methamphetamines and soon they became unrecognizable to their family and friends,” she said.
Young said state officials are looking at what can be done to stem the flow of methamphetamines into the state, saying the trafficking needs to be disrupted.
Ward did not address the mental health issues the three men were facing in the months leading up their deaths. Freeman and Donovan had been hospitalized before their deaths. Freeman had been taken to the hospital the same day he was shot.
O’Reilly is still with the Meredith department and remains on administrative leave, according to Ward. Blaisdell suffered serious injuries from the stabbing and received treatment. He is reportedly recovering.