Concord, N.H. — Attorney General John M. Formella announces that the Attorney General’s Office has made a determination as to the lawfulness of the law enforcement officer shooting of Jacob Gasbarro, age 25 in Walpole, New Hampshire on December 4, 2021.
At approximately 2:36 a.m. on Saturday, December 4, 2021, New Hampshire State Trooper Zachary Bernier and Walpole Police Officer Dean Wright responded to 800 County Road in Walpole. Mr. Gasbarro’s mother had called 911 to report that her son was suicidal.
Trooper Bernier and Officer Wright encountered Mr. Gasbarro in the driveway of the residence when they arrived. During their conversation with Mr. Gasbarro, he pulled what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at Officer Wright. At that point, Trooper Bernier drew his own weapon and fired 10 shots at Mr. Gasbarro. Unknown to Trooper Bernier and Officer Wright at the time, Mr. Gasbarro’s firearm was an Airsoft pellet gun. All safety markings had been removed from the gun and as a result, it looked like a real handgun. Mr. Gasbarro was shot twice; once in his right flank and once in his right hip. Mr. Gasbarro was hospitalized for his wounds and survived. No one else was injured during the encounter, and no one discharged a weapon other than Trooper Bernier.
Although Mr. Gasbarro survived, Trooper Bernier’s shooting of him 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 Mr. Gasbarro was legally justified. After a review of evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, the Attorney General has determined that it was objectively reasonable for Trooper Bernier to conclude that Mr. Gasbarro had a real firearm pointed at Officer Wright. Therefore, the Attorney General has concluded that Trooper Bernier’s shooting of Mr. Gasbarro was a legally justified use of deadly force.
The New Hampshire State Police have brought criminal charges against Mr. Gasbarro in connection with the December 4, 2021 encounter with Trooper Bernier. Those charges are pending. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office is unable to release further information about its investigation at this time. N.H. Rules 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 Mr. Gasbarro have concluded, the Attorney General’s Office will issue its full report on the investigation into Trooper Bernier’s use of deadly force, with the associated findings and reasoning behind the determination made.