CSAO: Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford Concerning the Officer-Involved Shooting of Tyrinde Mason-Thompson in Hartford on June 9, 2015

Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford Concerning the Officer-Involved Shooting of Tyrinde Mason-Thompson in Hartford on June 9, 2015

INTRODUCTION

This report concerns a June 9, 2015, incident, in which the Hartford Police were dispatched to 102 Andover Street, Hartford, to assist the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Capital Region Mental Health Center in attending to a person who was experiencing a mental health crisis. Shortly after their arrival at that location, Hartford officers identified the party who was in “crisis” as Tyrinde Mason-Thompson, age 22. Upon observing officers, Mr. Mason-Thompson fled through several backyards, prompting police to pursue him. After a lengthy foot chase, the subject stopped,  produced two knives from his waistband, and confronted the officers. The officers ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to drop the knives several times, but he refused to do so. A Hartford Police officer then fired a single discharge from a department-issued “conducted electrical device” – a TASER – in an effort to disarm Mr. Mason-Thompson. Showing no apparent effect from the TASER strike, Mr. Mason-Thompson advanced toward the officers, still brandishing a large knife. At that point one officer fired three rounds from his service weapon, striking  Mr. Mason-Thompson twice. Mr. Mason-Thompson has since recovered from his injuries.

Hartford Police notified the Office of the Hartford State’s Attorney immediately after this incident, and Inspectors from this office arrived at the scene within one half hour of notification. At that time, Mr. Mason-Thompson was in critical condition and it was unknown whether he would survive his injuries. Because Mr. Mason-Thompson sustained his injuries as a result of the use of both non-deadly and deadly force by a Hartford police officer and because of the seriousness of his condition, the undersigned called in the Connecticut State Police, Western District Major Crime Unit, to process the scene, and to investigate the incident. Although not required by statute to prepare this report, in light of the circumstances surrounding the use of force by police, the undersigned State’s Attorney hereby releases the findings of this investigation.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE INCIDENT

On June 9, 2015, at approximately 7:45 p.m., Titilayo Mason-Thompson called the Crisis Line at the Capital Region Mental Health Center, to report that her son, Tyrinde Mason-Thompson, was at their home at 102 Andover Street in Hartford, Connecticut, and was agitated, upset and yelling, and reported hearing voices. She further reported that he was non-compliant with his medication protocols and was not engaged in mental health treatment. Millicent Eastwood, a Capital Region nurse clinician, told Ms. Mason-Thompson that the Mobile Crisis Unit would respond immediately to assess her son for a “level of care.” Ms. Eastwood and another member of the Mobile Crisis Team, Elizabeth Eakins, responded to Ms. Mason’s home. While en route, Ms. Eastwood called the Hartford Police Department to request a police escort and standby ambulance. Ms. Eakins reported that upon their arrival, she observed that one police cruiser had arrived, and another was pulling up. She further reported that Ms. Mason-Thompson was outside the home, and appeared distraught and was crying. Her teenage daughters were outside, as well.

Hartford Police Officers Hector Morales and Gary Benway arrived at 102 Andover Street, in separate cruisers, at approximately 7:52 p.m. Each officer prepared a report wherein he stated that dispatch requested a response to 102 Andover Street for Tyrinde Mason-Thompson, who was having a mental health crisis. It was further reported that Mason-Thompson had a history of fleeing from police, so officers should not activate lights or sirens. Mobile Crisis Team records reveal that Tyrinde Mason-Thompson had three prior referrals involving their team including: one in April 2011 with a complaint of “paranoia, persecutory delusions and carrying a weapon for protection due to paranoia;” another in April 2012, with a complaint of “paranoia,” with what was described as “bizarre movements, and confused and illogical thought processes;” and one in November 2013, with a complaint of “paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, and inappropriate behavior.”

As Officers Morales and Benway entered the front yard of 102 Andover Street, they observed Mr. Mason-Thompson walking around the east side of the residence into the front yard. When Mr. Mason-Thompson saw the officers, he stopped. Officers Morales and Benway began walking toward Mr. Mason-Thompson, instructing him to remain where he was so that they could speak with him. According to the officers, Mr. Mason-Thompson backed away slowly, turned, and then ran toward the backyard along the east side of the residence, and they gave chase.

Officer Benway reported that he gave several verbal commands for Mr. Mason-Thompson to stop, but Mr. Mason-Thompson refused to comply and continued running. When Mr. Mason-Thompson reached the rear boundary of 102 Andover Street, he jumped a fence into the backyard of a residence on Westminster Street. Mr. Mason-Thompson continued to run through that property until he reached the sidewalk of Westminster Street. At that point, Officer Benway lost sight of Mr. Mason-Thompson; but Officer Morales reported that he was still in pursuit, and gaining on Mr. Mason-Thompson.

Officer Morales stated that Mr. Mason-Thompson ran west toward the intersection of Westminster Street and Palm Street. At that intersection, Mr. Mason-Thompson reportedly stopped, turned around, and produced two knives from his waistband. Officer Morales reported that Mr. Mason-Thompson waved the knives in his direction and told him, “You better get away from me.” When Officer Morales saw the knives, he communicated into his radio that Mr. Mason-Thompson was in possession of knives and requested that an officer with a TASER respond to the scene.

At the intersection of Westminster and Palm Street, Officer Morales again ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to stop where he was and to put down the knives. Mr. Mason-Thompson failed to comply and ran in a northwest direction toward 119 Palm Street. Officer Morales followed and stopped briefly in the front yard of 119 Palm Street. Officer Benway reported that he arrived at the northeast side of the front yard at this point. He observed Mr. Mason-Thompson carrying a knife in each hand and pointing them at Officer Morales. According to Officer Benway, one of those knives appeared to be a large butcher knife.

Mr. Mason-Thompson then ran along the north side of 119 Palm Street and into the backyard. Both Officer Morales and Officer Benway followed. Upon reaching the backyard of 119 Palm Street, the officers observed Mr. Mason-Thompson stop, turn, and point the knives at Officer Morales. Officers Morales and Benway repeatedly ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to place the knives on the ground and to “have a seat.”

Officer Tyrell Jenkins arrived in the area of 119 Palm Street and 144 Westminster Street at approximately 8:00 p.m., in response to Officer Morales’s request for an officer with a TASER. Officer Jenkins reported that he could also hear Officer Morales over his radio telling an individual to “put the knife down, have a seat and let’s talk about this.”

In his report, Officer Jenkins stated that he could hear Officer Morales speaking with Mr. Mason-Thompson, who was several feet away from Officer Morales. As he approached Officer Morales and Mr. Mason-Thompson, Officer Jenkins observed a large silver kitchen style knife in Mr. Mason-Thompson’s hand. Officer Jenkins stated that he drew his firearm and made his way to Officer Morales’s side. He then commanded Mr. Mason-Thompson to “drop the knife.”

Officer Jenkins reported that Mr. Mason-Thompson disregarded his order and ran west through the backyard of 119 Palm Street. According to Officer Jenkins, Mr. Mason-Thompson suddenly stopped, raised the knife to chest level, and shouted, “You better back up.” Around this time, Officer Jenkins first drew his TASER and pointed it at Mr. Mason-Thompson. Officer Morales and Officer Jenkins again ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to drop the knife. Mr. Mason-Thompson again disregarded the order and continued to run through the backyard toward the neighboring property at 144 Westminster Street. When Mr. Mason-Thompson reached the chain-link fence dividing 119 Palm Street and 144 Westminster Street, he jumped that fence and landed in the driveway of 144 Westminster Street.

All three officers gave chase. Officer Morales followed Mr. Mason-Thompson over the fence. Officer Benway had been running westbound on the sidewalk directly in front of 144 Westminster Street. When he reached the residence at 144 Westminster Street, Officer Benway ran around the west side of the residence and into the north side of the driveway. This positioned Officer Benway behind Mr. Mason-Thompson. Officer Jenkins also followed Mr. Mason-Thompson by running up the driveway of 144 Westminster Street. This positioned Officer Jenkins several feet to the left of where Officer Morales was standing in the driveway.

Mr. Mason-Thompson stopped in the driveway of 144 Westminster Street, and according to Officer Benway, pointed the knife at Officers Morales and Jenkins. All three officers again ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to stop where he was and place the knife on the ground. Officer Jenkins, who still had his TASER pointed at Mr. Mason-Thompson, also warned that he would deploy the TASER if Mr. Mason-Thompson did not drop the knife. Mr. Mason-Thompson, instead of complying, ran towards the residence at 144 Westminster Street, and hid behind two large plastic trash bins that were lined up against the northeast side of the 144 Westminster residence.

According to Officer Jenkins, Mr. Mason-Thompson took a combative stance behind the trash bins and raised the knife. All three officers again ordered Mr. Mason-Thompson to drop the knife, which Mr. Mason-Thompson ignored. Officer Jenkins positioned himself to the right of where Officer Morales stood in the driveway. In an attempt to immobilize Mr. Mason-Thompson, Officer Jenkins fired his TASER in the direction of Mr. Mason-Thompson’s torso; however, the officers reported that the leads had no effect on him and did not immobilize him.

Officer Jenkins reported that Mr. Mason-Thompson seemed to make eye contact with him, at which point Mr. Mason-Thompson pushed the trash bin aside and charged Officer Jenkins, brandishing the knife. Officer Morales, who was standing to Officer Jenkins’s left, observed Mr. Mason-Thompson charge towards Officer Jenkins and then coil back the knife, as if to make a stabbing motion.

As Mr. Mason-Thompson ran towards him, Officer Jenkins dropped his TASER and drew his firearm. Officer Jenkins quickly backed away from Mr. Mason-Thompson and fired three rounds. As he fired, Officer Jenkins lost his footing and fell backwards to the ground, injuring his left wrist. At least two of the rounds struck Mr. Mason-Thompson, causing him to fall to the ground, at which point, Officer Benway secured him in handcuffs. Officer Benway checked Mr. Mason-Thompson for injuries and observed that he sustained a gunshot wound to his lower left abdomen. Officer Benway, Officer Morales, and several other officers who arrived on scene rendered medical aid to Mr. Mason-Thompson. Paramedics subsequently transported Mr. Mason-Thompson to St. Francis Hospital for treatment. Mr. Mason-Thompson underwent surgery for two non-fatal gunshot wounds — one to his left abdomen and one to his right elbow. Mr. Mason-Thompson was subsequently arrested on July 23, 2015, and charged with Attempted Assault in the First Degree and Carrying a Dangerous Weapon.   

TYRINDE MASON-THOMPSON

At the time of this incident, Tyrinde Mason-Thompson was twenty-two years old. On June 22, 2015, while he was hospitalized at St. Francis Hospital, Mr. Mason-Thompson gave an oral statement to a Connecticut State Trooper and to a detective from Hartford Police Department who were assigned to investigate this incident. At the time of his statement, his attorney, Corey Brinson, was also present.

Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that on the day that he was shot, he was relaxing in his bedroom, and at some point, he retrieved three knives — one large knife and two smaller knives — from his dresser. Mr. Mason-Thompson described the larger knife as a “large chef’s knife,” with a light gold handle and a metal silver blade. He stated that he took them for protection because he felt “something was wrong.” He placed all three of those knives in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. He stated that he then left the residence and walked into the backyard, where he saw police officers approaching his house. He stated that officers walked toward him saying something to him, but he could not recall specifically what they were saying. Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that he believed the police officers were going to tackle him and arrest him as they have done that in the past. He recalled running from police through the backyards of homes on Andover Street and eventually crossing another street where he stopped in the backyard of a home. Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that at this point, he was surrounded by police. In an attempt to get away, Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that he jumped over a fence into the driveway of another home.

Mr. Mason-Thompson recalled taking out the large knife from his front pocket. He also remembered the police officers telling him to put the knife down. He remembered grabbing a recycling bin in an attempt to hide from the guns that the officers were pointing at him. Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that he decided to attempt to get away by running to his right; but as he began running, he noticed that he was running directly towards a police officer, while still holding the knife in his hand. Mr. Mason-Thompson stated that he was then struck by bullets from that officer’s gun more than once and fell to the ground. He reported that officers immediately began giving him oxygen to help him breathe, but it was not working. He stated that he was then transported to the hospital by ambulance. Attorney Brinson stated that Mr. Mason-Thompson would not provide a sworn, written statement.

CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE

In light of the use of deadly and non-deadly physical force by a Hartford police officer, the Hartford State’s Attorney’s Office was notified, and the Supervisory Inspector and two Inspectors responded to the scene. After conferring with the undersigned State’s Attorney, the decision was made to contact the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crime Unit to investigate the incident.

WITNESSES

Ms. Titilayo Mason-Thompson: Ms. Mason-Thompson is Mr. Mason-Thompson’s mother. They both live at 102 Andover Street. Ms. Mason-Thompson told police that Mr. Mason-Thompson was diagnosed with several mental illnesses some years before this incident. While Mr. Mason-Thompson had once participated in an outpatient program, Ms. Mason-Thompson stated that, at the time of this incident, that he had not been seeing a doctor, taking medication, or participating in an outpatient program.

As to this incident, Ms. Mason-Thompson stated that Mr. Mason-Thompson was acting agitated in the days leading up to June 9, 2015. Ms. Mason-Thompson recalled that Mr. Mason-Thompson was “yelling at voices in his head.” Mr. Mason-Thompson approached her and asked her “who was provoking him” and “who was bothering him.” He also told Ms. Mason-Thompson that he “wanted someone to talk to” and “wanted to know who was bothering him.” Ms. Mason-Thompson stated that she then called the Mobile Crisis Unit. She told the Mobile Crisis Unit that Mr. Mason-Thompson was having a “crisis” and was “angry.” Ms. Mason-Thompson reported that police have responded to previous incidents involving Mr. Mason-Thompson, but that it was usually the same officers who were familiar with her son. She stated that he would always run; but she never expected the police to chase him. She stated that she was not familiar with the officers who responded to her home on June 9, 2015.

Ms. Mason-Thompson stated that she and Mr. Mason-Thompson were in the backyard of their residence when police arrived. When Mr. Mason-Thompson heard cars arriving in the front of the home, he walked toward the front of the house around the home’s left side. According to Ms. Mason-Thompson, Mr. Mason-Thompson ran through the backyard of their home when he saw the police officers. Ms. Mason-Thompson saw Mr. Mason-Thompson jump the fence into the neighbor’s yard and come out on Westminster Street. She stated that when she came down Andover Street, she heard “around three gunshots” and then saw “Ty” lying on the ground in a driveway, when she got to Westminster.

OFFICER TYRELL JENKINS

Officer Tyrell Jenkins graduated from the Hartford Police Academy on September 20, 2012. He has no disciplinary history with Hartford Police Department. Connecticut State Police obtained copies of his training records, showing that he successfully completed the State of Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council Firearms Review course; and, on March 10 and March 12 of 2015, he completed four hours of firearms qualifications; and was recertified in the use of the Taser on January 22, 2015. The Hartford Police Department Internal Affairs Division also provided copies of their use of firearms guidelines; and Use of Less Lethal Force policy; and Emergency Examination of Ill and Gravely Disabled Person policy, and those records were submitted with the completed State Police investigation.

OTHER WITNESSES

The area of Andover, Westminster and Palm Streets in Hartford is a residential area comprised of single-family homes in the Blue Hills section of the north end of Hartford. Many residents of that area who witnessed the incident gave statements to Connecticut State Police concerning their observations.

One witness reported that she was walking near the intersection of Palm Street and Westminster Street, when she observed Mr. Mason-Thompson running down Westminster Street toward Palm Street with “something” in his hand. She saw two police officers following behind Mr. Mason-Thompson and heard one of the officers yell out “stop, stop.” She then observed Mr. Mason-Thompson run into the backyard of the property at the corner of Westminster Street and Palm Street, and lost sight of them.

Another witness resided on Westminster Street, near 144 Westminster Street and 119 Palm Street. The witness stated that as he exited his car, he observed Mr. Mason-Thompson running up Westminster Street. He saw that Mr. Mason-Thompson was holding a knife as he ran, and observed two police officers following Mr. Mason-Thompson, and heard them repeatedly tell Mr. Mason-Thompson to “stop” and to “put the knife down.” He stated that he heard the officers continue to command Mr. Mason-Thompson to “stop” and to “lay down on the ground;” and then observed Mr. Mason-Thompson run into the area where the backyard of 119 Palm Street and the driveway of 144 Westminster Street meet. At this point, the witness could no longer see Mr. Mason-Thompson, but he could see one of the police officers begin to retreat backwards. According to the witness, this officer had a “look of fear on his face” and began to fall over as he was backing up. It was at this time that the witness heard three gunshots, but could not see who fired the gun.

A resident of Palm Street stated that at approximately 8:00pm, she was in the sunroom of her residence, where she observed Mr. Mason-Thompson standing in her backyard, holding a “big butcher knife with a silver blade.” She also saw two police officers in the backyard, one to her left and one to her right, and could hear Mr. Mason-Thompson yelling at the officers: “Leave me alone” and “back up.” She also heard the police officers command Mr. Mason-Thompson to “drop his weapon” and “get on the ground” at least five times.

She stated that Mr. Mason-Thompson then hopped the fence that divided the backyard of 119 Palm Street and the driveway of neighboring 144 Westminster Street. She observed one of the officers follow Mr. Mason-Thompson over the fence, and the other officer run around 144 Westminster Street toward the backyard. She stated that she could see Mr. Mason-Thompson grab a recycling bin in the driveway with his right hand. She stated that she saw Mr. Mason-Thompson holding the butcher’s knife in his left hand. She heard the officers yell at Mr. Mason-Thompson to “put his weapon down” and to “get on the ground” several times. She then saw Mr. Mason-Thompson push the recycling bin at the officers. At the same time, she heard the sound of a TASER. She then saw Mr. Mason-Thompson run towards one of the officers “with the knife pointed out as if [Mr. Mason-Thompson] was going to stab the officer.” At that point, Mr. Mason-Thompson and the officer ran out of her view.  

RECOVERED EVIDENCE

As part of their investigation into this incident, Connecticut State Police processed the scene and photographed and seized evidence that was recovered. Among the numerous items recovered and photographed was a wire from a TASER cartridge at the beginning of the driveway of 144 Westminster Street. There were also three expended TASER cartridge casings — two along the east edge of the driveway and one in the center of the driveway. North of the TASER cartridge casings, police found a 12-inch long kitchen knife along the east side of the driveway. The knife had a blade measuring approximately 7 inches long. Police also found a TASER X26 electronic control device along the east side of the driveway near a large blue plastic garbage can. The device’s safety was engaged, its front cartridge had been fired, and an unfired cartridge was attached to the bottom of the device. The wire from the fired cartridge wrapped around the garbage can. Police found two, green colored TASER cartridge doors, north of the device, but did not locate any TASER probes. Police found another kitchen knife in the northeast part of the driveway. This knife had a red-colored handle and a 4-inch blade. Police recovered three .40 caliber bullet casings. All three were nickel-plated and bore a “Win .40 S&W” head stamp. Police also found one bullet projectile on the floor of the garage at the end of the driveway. Officer Jenkins’s firearm had 13 of 15 .40 caliber rounds remaining in the loaded magazine and one .40 caliber round was in the gun’s chamber.

Other witnesses took cell phone videos or sent text messages to others, documenting their observations. State Police seized those images and copied them, and submitted them with their investigation. Various items seized were sent to the Connecticut State laboratory for forensic, ballistic or DNA analysis. The results of that analysis were submitted with the report, as well.

State Police seized the Taser that Officer Jenkins carried, and transported it to the State Police Academy to download the stored data. Based upon the report received from the download, it appeared that the date and time were inaccurate. Trooper First Class Matthew Allen was able to synchronize the Taser, and through extrapolation, determined that the last Taser discharge was on June 9, 2015, at approximately 8:00 pm; and that it was fired once, for five seconds. That date is consistent with the date that Officer Jenkins reported that he discharged his Taser, striking Tyrinde Mason-Thompson.

State Police seized the following items from Mr. Mason-Thompson: a black hooded sweatshirt with two 6mm holes on the front left side, consistent with a bullet strike. Two TASER probes were attached to the left side of the sweatshirt, 13 inches apart. From Mr. Mason-Thompson’s clothing, police seized a knife that had a 4-inch black plastic handle and a 6-inch blade that a doctor at St. Francis Hospital emergency room observed while preparing to treat Mr. Mason-Thompson. 

APPLICABLE LAW AND ANALYSIS

Use of Force

Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-22(b) provides in relevant part that “a peace officer is justified in using physical force upon another  ... when and to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to: (1) effect an arrest of a person whom he or she reasonably believes to have committed an offense; or (2) defend himself or herself or a third person from the use or imminent use of physical force while effecting or attempting to effect an arrest.”

The deployment of a TASER constitutes use of non-deadly physical force. Thus, Conn. Gen. Stat § 53a-22(b) controls whether Officer Jenkins’s use of his TASER was justified.

Officer Jenkins knew of the following relevant facts and circumstances at the time he discharged his TASER. Officer Jenkins was responding to a request for “an officer with a TASER” to assist in apprehending an emotionally disturbed person who was wielding a deadly instrument. Before Officer Jenkins arrived on the scene, he heard Officers Benway and Morales report that they chased Mr. Mason-Thompson through several properties and observed Mr. Mason-Thompson wield a large knife in a threatening manner. And when he arrived on the scene, Officer Jenkins observed Mr. Mason-Thompson raise a large knife in menacing and threatening manner. Mr. Mason-Thompson also shouted at Officer Jenkins, “You better back up.” Officer Jenkins instructed Mr. Mason-Thompson to put the knife down, or that he would discharge the TASER. But Mr. Mason-Thompson ignored these repeated instructions.

Officer Jenkins was justified in deploying his TASER because he reasonably believed such force was necessary to (i) effect the arrest of a person he reasonably believed to have committed an offense and (ii) defend himself or a third person from imminent use of physical force while attempting to make that arrest.

Use of Deadly Force

Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-22(c) provides in relevant part that “a peace officer is justified in using deadly physical force when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.”

The officer’s discharge of his service firearm, striking Mr. Mason-Thompson, constituted the use of deadly physical force. Thus, Conn. Gen. Stat § 53a-22(c) controls whether Officer Jenkins’s use of his firearm was justified.

The reasonableness of the officer’s belief is judged from both an objective and subjective standpoint, whether he is using deadly or non-deadly force. State v. Smith, 73 Conn. App. 173, 185–86, cert. denied, 262 Conn. 923 (2002); (citing State v. Prioleau, 235 Conn. 274, 286–87 (1995)). First, the officer must honestly believe that the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend himself or another from the imminent use of deadly physical force. Id. Second, if the trier of fact determines that the officer honestly believed deadly force was necessary, the trier must then determine whether the officer’s belief was objectively reasonable. Id.  

The test is not whether it was actually necessary for the officer to use deadly physical force. Rather, it is whether the officer, based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time, believed that such force, as opposed to a lesser degree of force, was necessary; and whether, from the perspective of a reasonable person in his circumstances, such beliefs are objectively reasonable. See, e.g., State v. Adams, 52 Conn. App. 643, 651 (1999).

The United States Supreme Court has held that “the reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989). In determining reasonableness, a trier must account for the fact that “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” Id. at 396-97.

The United States Supreme Court has identified several factors relevant in analyzing an officer’s reasonableness: “[(i)] the severity of the crime at issue, [(ii)] whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, [(iii)] and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” Id. at 396. 

Officer Jenkins knew of the following relevant facts and circumstances at the time discharged his service firearm: Officer Jenkins was responding to a report of an emotionally disturbed person, running through properties and brandishing knives in a threatening manner. When Officer Jenkins arrived, he observed Mr. Mason-Thompson holding a large knife in a threatening manner and heard Mr. Mason-Thompson warn him, “You better back up.” All three officers gave Mr. Mason-Thompson repeated instructions to drop the knife, which Mr. Mason-Thompson ignored. Officer Jenkins first attempted to use intermediate force to immobilize Mr. Mason-Thompson. When this was unsuccessful, Mr. Mason-Thompson pushed the trash bin he was hiding behind out of his way and charged towards Officer Jenkins. As he charged toward Officer Jenkins, Mr. Mason-Thompson coiled back the knife and prepared to make a stabbing motion. Although he was not legally required to do so, it is important to note that Officer Jenkins had no viable option of retreat. Right before Mr. Mason-Thompson charged at him, Officer Jenkins was approximately fifteen feet away from Mr. Mason-Thompson. Officer Jenkins could attempt to only back up because the cramped space of the driveway did not permit him to run in any other direction. Officer Jenkins’ belief, that a person wielding a dangerous instrument from such a close distance could inflict grave physical injury or death upon him, is also objectively reasonable.

Officer Jenkins was justified in using deadly physical force against Mr. Mason-Thompson because he reasonably believed such force was necessary to defend himself from imminent deadly physical force.

CONCLUSION

Based upon all the facts and circumstances outlined above, I find that the actions of Officer Jenkins were therefore justified under Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-22. The Division of Criminal Justice will not take any further action.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gail P. Hardy

Hartford’s State’s Attorney



Content Last Modified on 4/20/2016 8:55:54 AM