DA clearing backlog of police-involved shootings cases

With a backlog of police-involved shooting investigations left unfinished by former Suffolk District Attorney A Rachael Rollins, her successor, Kevin Hayden, is moving to clear out nine pending police-involved shooting investigations – including five in the Dorchester and Mattapan area going back to 2019.

On Monday, he released the first of two probes from 2019 – one from and another from Newmarket on the edge of Dorchester. In both instances, police officers used deadly force and investigations found that force to be justified. Hayden filed no charges in those cases.

“I am deeply aware of the impact these cases have on everyone involved,” he said. “Our office moved forward with all these investigations with the utmost respect for all those affected by these traumatic events.  We met with the families of those killed, the officers involved, and their respective departments regarding these findings in advance of releasing them to the public. These were thorough, meticulous investigations conducted with one primary goal—to gather and review all the relevant facts.  Those facts led each investigation to its finding, and we are now releasing those findings to the public to ensure transparency and promote the public’s trust and engagement.”

The other Dorchester or Mattapan police-involved shooting investigations the results of which have not yet been released include:

•The shooting death of Jaymil Ellerbe in June 2019 on Penhallow Street. Ellerbe allegedly shot at officers as he fled from an incident at close-by Town Field and officers returned fire, fatally shooting him..

•The non-fatal shooting of Luis Gomes on Adams Street in February 2020. In that case, officers reportedly found him stabbing another person outside a sandwich shop around 11:30 p.m. Officers reported that they intervened to stop the attack but couldn’t separate the two men. At one point, an officer shot Gomes in the leg to stop the attack.

•The fatal shooting of Michael Quarrles at his Grove Hall home on Ingleside Street in November 2021. While police were responding to a 9-1-1 call for a domestic incident in the home, one officer reportedly was stabbed in the neck before another officer shot Quarrles.

•The fatal shooting of Dashaun Wright on Ferndale Street after an hours-long standoff with police in November 2021. Three officers suffered gunshot wounds, allegedly from Wright during the confrontation.

Another police-involved shooting occurred just last week on Glendale Street near Uphams Corner. It is in the early stages of the DA’s investigation and likely won’t be reported out with the others from previous years.

The investigation into the Newmarket case, which involved the shooting death of Kasim Kahrim, was conducted and approved by former DA Rollins, but never released publicly. In that officer-involved shooting, police in a marked cruiser reported finding Kahrim parked and unconscious with his head on the steering wheel and his car running at 2 a.m. on Feb. 22, 2019.

The car was registered at a Dorchester address and officers feared he might need medical help. After conducting a routine inquiry, the situation turned violent when Kahrim pulled a gun out of his pocket and fired at one officer, hitting him in the hand. That prompted the second officer to return fire. After reloading, the second officer fired five or six more rounds into the vehicle, then stopped firing when the vehicle fled the scene. Police found the vehicle crashed about a half-mile away near Uphams Corner. Kahrim was inside and was pronounced dead at the site.

“The circumstances faced by (officers) were extremely difficult and the actions of (officers) under these circumstances were reasonable and lawful,” wrote Rollins in the investigative memo. “I conclude, therefore, that no criminal charges are warranted in connection with Mr. Kahrim’s death. Although my findings address directly the lawfulness of (the officer’s) actions, I am critically aware of the tragedy of this day and the trauma and loss suffered by Mr. Kahrim’s family in its aftermath.”

The move to address and clear out the left-over investigations was first reported by the Boston Globe and was added to by Commonwealth. Rollins had inherited one police-involved shooting from her predecessor, DA Dan Conley, when she took office in 2019, but didn’t issue any findings from investigations done during her tenure before leaving this year to take the job of US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

In the two cases released on Monday, Rollins had completed the investigation into Kahrim’s death, but had not released it. Meanwhile, Hayden’s team took on and completed the investigation into the Revere shooting, where a man was fatally shot by an Everett police officer just over the Revere/Everett line and into Suffolk County. That officer was also cleared in that investigation, and Hayden reported no charges would be filed.

Rollins did speak about her failure to release to the public any reports of police-involved shootings during her time in office, telling the Globe, “any blame regarding the lack of publication is mine alone.”

Hayden told the media some of the investigations awe nearly completed, and others are not. No matter what stage they were in, he said, he had intended since being appointed in January to do his own thorough review of the cases before approving the conclusions.

As an example of that, in the Kahrim case, Hayden on Monday issued an accompanying letter indicating he agreed with the investigatory findings and the decision not to file any charges, saying, “After a comprehensive review of the findings, I concur fully with the conclusion that no criminal charges are warranted in connection with the conduct of any law enforcement officer in this case.”

More public releases of backlogged investigations are expected in the coming days and weeks.

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