Police & Fire

Police justified in killing of Presque Isle man, report states

Michael Brown wanted by Presque Isle police in connection with an alleged sexual assault was killed in a gunfight with officers following a vehicle chase that started Thursday night, June 15, in Massachusetts and ended in a crash around midnight in New Hampshire. (Courtesy of Brent MacKenzie)

NEWTON, New Hampshire — The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office ruled on Wednesday that four Massachusetts State Troopers were legally justified in shooting and killing a Presque Isle man who fled Maine while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault.

The details of the shooting of Michael Brown, 40, on June 15 were detailed in a 40-page investigative report released by New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. The report contains audio and video of the incident.

The troopers involved —  Michael Caranfa, Robert Holland, George Katsarakes and Daniel Purtell — will not face any charges and are back at work.

The Presque Isle Police contacted Brown on June 7 about the allegations, but he avoided them and fled with his uncle’s Toyota Tacoma truck and loaded 9 mm pistol on June 15. Brown’s relatives told police that he had contacted them and said that he would “not go down without a fight” and would look to attempt suicide by cop, the report stated.

Brown was spotted in Malden, Massachusetts. In the chase, in which he fired his weapon a number of times at troopers, Brown continued speeding through the state, sometimes with no headlights in the wrong direction on Interstate 495 in Amesbury, Massachusetts, on tires that had partially been disabled by spike strips.

He crashed the vehicle in Newton, New Hampshire. The final reports states just prior to his death, Brown pointed a gun out of the window of the truck at two troopers, revved the engine at police and drove toward them, prompting the fatal shooting. Each trooper said that they believed they were legally justified in shooting Brown because he had already shot at them, pointed his gun at them and then was attempting to run them over with his vehicle.

A number of troopers who witnessed the shooting gave statements supporting their colleagues version of events. Brown died from a gunshot wound to the neck, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide, a term used to define the killing of one person by another. Autopsy results showed that Brown’s blood “revealed the presence of the active and inactive components found in marijuana, as well as amphetamines and methamphetamines” at the time of his death, according to the report.

Michael Brown, 40, wanted by Presque Isle police in connection with an alleged sexual assault, is dead following a car chase and gun battle with police that started Thursday night in Massachusetts and ended around midnight in New Hampshire. (Courtesy of Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office)

A pistol found in Brown’s truck “contained no live rounds and had an empty magazine in it that could hold up to 15 rounds,” the report stated.

“It was reported that the gun contained 15 live rounds when Mr. Brown stole it,” the document continued. “Therefore, the fact that it was found empty after the incident is consistent with Mr. Brown having fired up to 15 shots before the pursuit ended, including some at the pursuing troopers.”

Massachusetts State Police do not have body or video cameras in their cruisers, according to the report, so the chase and shooting were not captured by such equipment. A Massachusetts State Police helicopter recorded audio and video of the chase, but trees obscured the view of the actual shooting.

The report concluded by saying that Brown “was attempting to avoid apprehension on June 15, 2017, and created a dangerous situation, which he escalated to the point where it became reasonable for four Massachusetts State Troopers to conclude that they faced an imminent threat of deadly force from Mr. Brown.”

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