The N.H. Attorney General’s Office released its final report Monday clearing a Keene police officer in a deadly shooting last year.
Officer Joshua English was justified in his use of deadly force when he shot and killed Charles E. Turcotte in 2010.
The Attorney General’s Office previously cleared English in its preliminary report, and backed up that finding with Monday’s final report.
“Based on careful examination of the circumstances surrounding this incident, the Attorney General has concluded that Officer English reasonably responded to the threat posed by Charles Turcotte,” the Attorney General’s Office said in its 21-page report.
The incident occurred Feb. 2, 2010, when police were called to 48 Spruce St., the home of Turcotte’s ex-girlfriend, Hae Kyong Whitcomb.
English was one of the first officers on the scene, and found Turcotte in an upstairs bedroom with Whitcomb, according to the report.
Turcotte had a 14-inch folding knife and at one point raised the knife to Whitcomb’s throat, convincing English he intended to hurt Whitcomb, the report said.
English and other officers on the scene told Turcotte to drop the knife several times, the report said.
Shortly after the arrival of Officer Steve Corrigan, a trained hostage negotiator for the Keene Police Department, Turcotte’s level of agitation increased and his comments became more menacing, according to the report.
At one point during the incident, English reported Turcotte turned to Whitcomb and said “Didn’t you say you wanted to die today?” and “What did I tell you? It was either going to be me or you tonight,” according to the report.
English was able to shift his position in the room so that he could get off a shot at Turcotte without harming Whitcomb, and fired a single shot from his Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which entered Turcotte’s right cheek, according to the report.
During an interview conducted by Sgt. James Geraghty of the N.H. State Police Major Crimes Unit three days after the incident, English said he felt he needed to take the shot at Turcotte to save Whitcomb’s life, and he had no doubt Turcotte was going to kill her.
The autopsy on Turcotte revealed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.142, nearly twice the legal limit to drive, according to the report.
Turcotte was also found to have had a 6-inch folding knife in his pocket.
“The facts are clear that during the officers’ encounter with Turcotte, they repeatedly urged him to drop his knife, but to no avail,” the report said. “Instead, evidence shows that Turcotte’s level of agitation continued to increase as the incident continued.
“These facts confirm that Turcotte’s motive was to kill or inflict serious bodily injury to Whitcomb.”
Keene Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola said he reviewed the report this morning, and that he was proud of his officers.
“The training, teamwork, and professionalism displayed by the officers that responded was exceptional,” he said.
Meola said that while police never want to use deadly force, the action taken by English and other officers probably saved Whitcomb’s life.
“At the end of the day, you (English) found out you did the right thing for the right reasons,” he said.
Meola said he hasn’t spoken to English about the report, but probably will at some point.
“This is a tragic thing for anyone to go through,” he said.
English joined the Keene police in 2001 and still works for the department.
Kyle Jarvis can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1433, or email@example.com.
Key words: "and at one time". Mr. Turcotte turned his head when Officer Corrigan spoke to him. He never had an opportunity to negotiate with Mr. Turcotte before English pulled the trigger. There was no trying to calm the situation. It is apparent that English agitated the situation in all accounts that I have read. Nevermind how shocking it is to me that such a large gun is taken into domestic situations. This was a small space where Mr. Turcotte was killed he had no chance. Do we really want officers shooting to kill our family members? The real tragedy is that the woman took her own life 5 weeks later, to the day. Not because of the trauma from having her lover's blood spill over her, but because she felt guilty. There are 6 surviving children. Please think of them.
In other words. This is a tragedy that could have been and absolutely should have been prevented by the people we pay to protect us.
It's always someones else's fault...Dworvak your right the tragedy is what got left in the wake of Mr. Turcotte and his actions. He chose to put himself in that situation and threaten the womans life. I don't believe that he got what he deserved, but he certainly opened the door to dire circumstances. It is tragic that Mr. Turcotte led the lifestyle he did, that friends and relatives didn't step in and try to help him; he had substance abuse issues and anger issues it's a shame he couldn't find a better path in life. And of course you are absolutely correct that the real shame or tragedy is the children who have to live with this. Police train in the use of deadly force because they have to, it's real, it's sad but it's a fact. I'm a proud of the training and record of our Police Department. I'm very sorry for the situation but very glad that no one else was hurt in the initial incident.
When was the last time anyone in this area that wasn't a 'peace officer' shot at or shot someone with bad intent ?
A little more than a month ago, CommonMan.
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