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Bristol County District Attorney’s Office deems police-involved shooting was justified

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An investigation into the November 12, 2020 police-involved non-fatal shooting of a knife-wielding 62-year-old Malden man has been concluded and it has been determined that no criminal charges will be filed against the Massachusetts State Trooper.

According to Gregg Miliote of the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, the investigation was referred to the Office for a determination as to whether the Trooper’s use of force constituted a crime. Two Bristol Assistant District Attorneys were assigned to the case for that purpose, and were sworn in as Special Assistant District Attorneys for Middlesex County by Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan for the purpose of overseeing the investigation and making this determination.

Investigators have determined the action taken by the state trooper who fired his weapon was justified and was necessitated by the defendant’s violent and aggressive actions.

On November 12, 2020, at approximately noon, Steven Brawley, was in the Stop & Shop supermarket located at 540 Squire Road in Revere. While inside of the supermarket, Brawley became irate during an interaction at the customer service desk and struck an assistant manager with a shopping cart several times, causing bruising to her leg. After being told he would have to leave the store, Brawley spat in the assistant manager’s face and threatened her, telling her “I’m going to end your life.” He continued to use a loud voice and threatening language toward the assistant manager as he began walking out of the store. The assistant manager as well as two other employees followed Brawley out of the store and into the parking lot with the intention of keeping an eye on him until the police arrived in response to their 911 call.

Miliote stated that as they were following him, the two employees observed a marked Massachusetts State Police vehicle parked in front of Bridge Pizzeria on Washington Avenue in Revere. One of the employees entered the restaurant to ask for help from the Trooper. The Trooper was clearly identified as a Massachusetts State Police Trooper in wording by the Massachusetts State Police patch and badge on his shirt. The employees told the trooper about what happened inside of the Stop & Shop and that the Revere police were responding to the scene.

The two employees directed the trooper toward Brawley, who had continued walking along Washington Avenue towards Malden. The Trooper called to Brawley. In response, Brawley pulled out a knife and pointed it in the direction of the Trooper. The Trooper drew his weapon, instructed the employees to again call 911. With his weapon drawn and pointed at Brawley, the Trooper continued to follow Brawley toward the intersection of Beach and Oliver Streets in Malden, commanding Brawley to drop his weapon. Brawley refused repeated commands to drop his weapon. As the two proceeded into Malden on foot, a crowd of onlookers formed.

A Malden Police Officer was the first officer to arrive in response to the 911 calls. He was armed with a department-issued rifle and a pistol. Neither the Malden Officer nor the State Trooper had a TASER or electronic control device, according to Miliote. The Malden Officer pulled Brawley to the ground by pulling on his backpack. While he was on the ground, the Trooper attempted to take Brawley’s knife, but as he was leaning in toward Brawley, Brawley lunged upward with the knife and tried to slice or stab the Trooper. The Trooper then shot Brawley one time in the area of Brawley’s upper right chest near his neck. The bullet entered Brawley’s body and exited from his back. Despite being shot, Brawley appeared unfazed. He stood back up, and in response to continued commands from the Trooper, Brawley folded his knife, placed it in his pocket, and attempted to continue on his way. When Brawley pocketed his knife, the Trooper re-holstered his pistol. As Brawley attempted to ignore commands to submit to the custody of the officers, the two officers closed in to forcibly take him into custody. As they were doing so, Brawley swung his fist at the Trooper. Brawley was successfully brought to the ground and placed into custody. First Aid was immediately administered on Brawley and continued until medical personnel arrived on scene.

Brawley was arrested and he has been charged with numerous crimes for his conduct toward the Trooper, and for his alleged crimes against the Stop & Shop personnel.

After a review of all the information in this case, it was ruled that there is no cause to believe that the Massachusetts State Police Trooper committed any criminal offense on November 12, 2020. Although the Trooper caused Brawley’s injuries by shooting him, that act was deemed justified and necessitated by Brawley’s conduct, according to the investigation.

“The use of force was consistent with the Massachusetts State Police policy regarding the use of force, and consistent with self-defense and/or defense of others.”

The report stated that the Trooper did not know Brawley and was not aware of either his extensive history of mental health issues or his prior history of police interactions before that day.

“The Trooper was waiting for his lunch and did not seek out a confrontation with Brawley, but acted, as required, in the performance of his duties as a police officer. The Trooper attempted to disarm Brawley without the use of force and warned him that he would have to use force if Brawley did not comply. The Trooper, acting with the assistance of the Malden Officer, attempted to disable Brawley for the purpose of disarming him using nonlethal force, but this did not work. Even with Brawley brought to the ground, he lunged at the Trooper with his knife trying to injure him.”

The investigation determined Brawley’s own actions created a situation justifying the Trooper’s use of lethal force. Further review of Brawley’s actions on the day in question, as well as his overall history, reveal him to display erratic, violent, aggressive, and hostile behavior, which includes direct assaults on strangers and threats, including threats to kill.

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