PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office has released the results of an investigation into an officer-involved shooting on September 9th in Hancock.
On Friday, Berkshire District Attorney Anthony Shugrue stated the Massachusetts State Trooper had no other means of options to protect himself or others potentially harmed in the incident.
On September 9th, around 7:00 a.m., the Trooper was called to a domestic disturbance between two brothers on Richmond Road in Hancock. It was reported that one of the brothers, Philip Henault, was armed with knives. It was believed through the 911 call that there was a potential victim inside the home, Philip’s brother.
When troopers arrived, Philip was in the garage covered in blood, giving the troopers suspicion that a crime had possibly been committed inside the home. Philip was allegedly not complying with officers and kept approaching the troopers, threatening to kill them or someone three times.
The trooper issued several commands to stop. The trooper then unholstered his firearm when Philip tried to lure the trooper into the garage while armed with two knives and covered in blood. Philip continued to resist the trooper’s commands and advanced towards the trooper with knives in his hands stating “I’m going to f****** kill you.”
The trooper began to retreat but Philip became more aggressive. Philip was now 10 to 12 feet in front of him still approaching. The trooper fired one shot, hitting Philip. Philip fell but got back up and attempted to pursue the trooper again. That’s when the trooper fired a second shot. Philip again continued to advance towards the trooper.
They had now reached the road when Philip collapsed to the ground still holding two knives. The trooper kicked away the knives and began providing life-saving measures on Philip. Ultimately, Philip died from his injuries.
The District Attorney says the use of force by the trooper “was reasonably necessary to overcome the resistance of this person who was in the process of offending him and where he had a duty to arrest.”
The DA continued stating the trooper had no other reasonable means to protect himself or anyone inside the home possibly injured. The trooper exhausted multiple attempts to de-escalate the situation. As a police officer, he did not have the option to run away from Philip and had a duty to arrest him.
“The actions of the Trooper comport with the policies of the Massachusetts State Police and with the law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”District Attorney Shugrue
District Attorney Shugrue added, “Accordingly, this report finds that the decision by the Trooper to fire his weapon at Mr. Henault under the foregoing circumstances constitutes the lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others. Therefore, criminal charges are not warranted, and this investigation is closed pending official autopsy.”
Colonel John Mawn Jr., Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, released the following statement in response to Shugrue’s ruling;
“There is no potential action that a law enforcement officer may have to take that is more significant or serious than the decision to use lethal force.
No State Trooper or police officer goes to work wanting to use lethal force. The judgement that such an action is necessary, that no other option is available, is a monumental decision, and one that must be viewed in the context of the observations and knowledge available to the officer in that moment.
The Massachusetts State Police are rigorously trained in, and have a detailed policy that outlines, the appropriate deployment of various levels force, up to and including lethal force, according to the specific circumstances of a situation.
On September 9 in Hancock, a Massachusetts State Trooper acted appropriately in accordance with that training. As the facts of the incident show, he made remarkable efforts to de-escalate the confrontation with an aggressive, non-compliant suspect armed with two knives. The Trooper repeatedly gave the hostile suspect commands to stop his approach, and repeatedly gave him more space, and then more space again, until the armed suspect finally began to close the last small distance between them and there was no more space to give.
I commend the Trooper for a tremendous display of restraint, until there was no option to do so further. And for taking immediate lifesaving steps after the individual was down. The professionalism and compassion displayed by the Trooper, under incredibly difficult circumstances are a credit to his courage, training, and character.
All loss of life is tragic, and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the suspect. That sad loss, however, does not change reasonableness and legality of the Trooper’s actions.
I would like to thank the Pittsfield Police Officers who responded to back up our Trooper that morning. I am grateful also to Berkshire District Attorney Shugrue for his thorough and unbiased analysis of the facts of this incident and their application to the law.
Incidents such as this one, and such as today’s police-involved shooting in Lakeville, remind us that there are no routine days for any law enforcement officer.
Protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth is a challenging and risky endeavor. I am grateful to the men and women of law enforcement and especially those who represent the Massachusetts State Police, who go out into the unknown 24/7/365.”
Colonel John Mawn Jr.
Massachusetts State Police
The investigation also revealed that Philip was the one to call the police inside the home and cut himself, which was why he was bloodied when troopers arrived. He was not threatened by anyone else inside the home.
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in March 1953 providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.