DA Blodgett Concludes Investigation into Lawrence Police Shooting
Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett completed his investigation of the April 26, 2016 incident at 18 Melrose Street and has determined that Antonio Gonzalez was fatally shot by police who believed Gonzalez had fired upon them. His findings are attached.
“The United States Supreme Court ruled in Graham v. Connor, that in order to determine the lawfulness of deadly force by a police officer, one must consider the perspective of a reasonable officer given the facts and circumstances confronting them at the scene and in the moment, and not with the perspective of hindsight,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “In this instance, multiple police officers and two civilians believed they had been fired upon by Gonzalez. At the moment that he shot and killed Gonzalez, Sergeant Maurice Aguilar personally observed Gonzalez pointing a firearm at him, another officer and two civilians. Based upon all of the evidence in this case, Sgt. Aguilar acted reasonably in using lethal force against Antonio Gonzalez.”
The investigation found that seven Lawrence Police officers went to 18 Melrose Street in response to several reports by a friend and family members of Antonio Gonzalez that he had killed or gravely injured his long-time girlfriend Yenny Santos and had their 4-year-old son in their apartment. Captain Denis Pierce, Detectives Brian Voisine and Angel Mejia and Officers Sean O’Keefe and Scott McCabe responded to a dispatch of a possible homicide/hostage situation. Officer Ariskelda Southworth was flagged down by relatives of Gonzalez and Sergeant Maurice Aguilar responded from the station.
Captain Pierce, Detective Mejia and Officers O’Keefe and Southworth entered the three-story home while the other officers remained outside and spoke to the relatives of Gonzalez. Moments later, all of the parties at the scene report hearing gunshots from the vicinity of Gonzalez’s third-floor apartment, followed by the sound of breaking glass. Sgt. Aguilar reported, “shots fired” on the radio and then returned fire. Det. Voisine provided cover to Sgt. Aguilar, who moved the two women to safety behind his cruiser. Sgt. Aguilar and Det. Voisine then report observing Gonzalez point a firearm at them, at which point Sgt. Aguilar fired again and Gonzalez disappeared from view.
Initially, SWAT members were first able to enter the home, they found the 4-year-old boy, covered in blood and ultimately unharmed. He was transported to Lawrence General Hospital. Later, after it was determined that Gonzalez was dead, SWAT members entered the apartment and found Santos on the second floor. She was transported to Lawrence General and then med-flighted to Massachusetts General Hospital where she was treated for multiple stab wounds, that included two penetrating wounds to her head. At this time, she is recovering from her injuries.
The investigation included a review of the following: interviews of witnesses who were in contact with Gonzalez during the time leading up to the shooting and/or were in the area when the shooting occurred; interviews with the Lawrence Police Officers present at the scene at the time of the shooting, evidence found at the scene, Lawrence Police radio transmissions; reports of the Medical Examiner and Massachusetts State Police ballistician.
The autopsy and toxicology reports, received on November 28, 2016, determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head with injuries to the skull and brain. The ballistician report indicated that the revolver recovered under the third-floor window where Gonzalez had been, was inoperable as submitted.
The complete findings of DA Blodgett are attached and posted on his web site at www.mass.gov/essexda.