Shooting of suspect justified, DA rules
Drug unit officer faced car driven at him in Ashby
A state trooper was justified when he shot and killed a suspected drug dealer in Ashby in February, officials from the Middlesex district attorney’s office said yesterday.
Trooper Shawn McIntyre of the State Police gang unit, was in a life-threatening situation about 1 p.m. Feb. 22 when he fired two shots into a Nissan sedan that was being driven toward him, according to a four-page investigation report released yesterday.
One of those shots struck the suspect, Roger Reyes Padilla, 21, in the head, killing him.
“We maintained that day and have maintained since the start of our investigation that the use of deadly force was justified,’’ State Police spokesman David Procopio said. He said the department is pleased with the district attorney’s conclusion.
A four-month investigation found that McIntyre cornered Padilla’s Nissan sedan in a cul-de-sac in the rural town of Ashby, north of Fitchburg on the New Hampshire border. After his cruiser was wrecked in a snow bank, he exited and ordered Padilla to stop.
Padilla, who police described as a Fitchburg resident, drove back and forth in the cul-de-sac several times, but McIntyre stood blocking the entrance, shouting, “Stop, State Police,’’ the report said. He was showing his badge and eventually drew his gun.
After the fourth or fifth time Padilla drove forward and reverse around the circle, an off-duty Pepperell police officer, Steven A. Burke, ran up brandishing a badge and a gun. Together, they “continued to scream orders, repeatedly giving commands to stop,’’ the report indicates.
Then, 10 feet from McIntyre and the other officer, “Padilla looked directly at both of the officers, revved the engine, and traveled forward’’ toward McIntyre. That was when McIntyre fired.
Burke, reached at home yesterday, declined to comment on the findings; and members of Padilla’s family could not be reached. Padilla’s brother, Ranyel Reyes, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in February that Padilla did not own a gun and did not speak English. The newspaper said Padilla and his brother were due in court on drug charges.
“Since the day of the event and with the review of the evidence, we have been certain that the trooper showed restraint,’’ Procopio said.
The district attorney’s office worked with State Police in the investigation, conducted through interviews with witnesses, police reports, 911 calls, and medical examiner information, according to the district attorney’s office.
McIntyre had begun following Padilla near Route 31 in Fitchburg, after he “observed what we allege was a drug transaction,’’ Procopio said. Later, Padilla tossed what was determined to be a bag of cocaine and heroin from the Nissan, the report said.
Drug dealers often use the cover of forested areas northwest of Boston to make their transactions, detectives have said.
Padilla was pronounced dead at the scene. The second bullet was found in the driver’s seat.
Ben Wolford can be reached at email@example.com.