NH attorney general: Police shooting of unarmed man justified

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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THORNTON, N.H. (WCAX) - Officials say Thornton Police Ofc. Matthew Yao was justified in using deadly force during an incident in Thornton back in October. Several pieces of video evidence related to the case were released Tuesday.

Yao responded to Ethan Freeman’s apartment after the home’s owner called 911. Moments later, Freeman was shot dead when the 37-year-old, bloodied and naked, charged the officer and threatened to kill him.

According to New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Jane Young: “Everything that Mr. Freeman had said and done up to that point at his apartment was consistent with the threats that he had voiced to kill Officer Yao. Moreover, Mr. Freeman had both the opportunity and ability to carry out those death threats.”

The video of the actual shooting is too graphic to show you.

It was the third encounter between the two men that day. Yao and Freeman first crossed paths that morning in the lobby of a local school. Freeman was asking for medical help. According to the investigation, he had a history of mental illness.

Yao is seen helping to remove Freeman’s shoes before he was taken to the hospital.

At the hospital, Yao is seen running after Freeman, who appears to be trying to enter the facility. Yao also comforts the Thornton man, who was eventually dropped off back at home.

Later that day, the upstairs neighbor heard a commotion from Freeman’s apartment and called 911, bringing Ofc. Yao to the home.

Freeman breaks through a glass window, charges at the officer. Yao shot him twice in the chest. He was not holding a weapon when he was killed.

It is apparent Freeman’s mental health played a factor in the incident. However, according to the findings: “The Attorney General’s office does not investigate or opine on the particular procedures or tactics used by law enforcement officers. Instead, the Attorney General Office’s review of officer-involved use of deadly force incidents consists of a criminal investigation, which is limited to determining whether officers complied with applicable law.”

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