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Feb 16, 2017 1:25 PM

Family of NH man shot and killed by police suing officers involved


BATH — The family of a Canterbury man killed by police in 2015 is suing the officers who shot him after the New Hampshire Attorney General ruled it was justified in July 2015.

Hagen Esty-Lennon, 42, was shot and killed on July 6, 2015. Police say they saw him walking along Route 302 after he crashed his SUV into a boulder on the north end of the then closed Bath Bridge over the Wild Ammonoosuc River.

READ: Family attorney's request delays release of body camera footage of police-involved Bath shooting

Previous reports state Esty-Lennon staggered away from the wreck, refused to drop a knife when commanded by police, and lunged towards the officers before being shot six times.

According to New Hampshire Regulations, an officer may "only use deadly force upon imminent fear of bodily harm."

Esty-Lennon's mother, Donna Esty, filed the suit against Officers Ryan Jarvis and Gregory Collins, arguing that there was no imminent harm to their safety. The complaint also includes Sgt. Wallace Trot, the Grafton County Sheriff's Department and the Haverhill Police Department.

Esty's family claims that Esty-Lennon was a "significant distance away, had no firearm, was plainly dazed and previously injured," according to court documents. His family also alleges that responding law enforcement violated numerous standards of protocol in the shooting death of Esty-Lennon.

Esty also alleges that negligent supervision and training by the Haverhill Police Department contributed to Esty-Lennon's death.

"Here, a reasonable officer would have understood that his behavior violated that clearly established right of freedom and liberty," as stated in the court documents.

The Attorney General's report regarding the incident concludes Esty-Lennon's "conduct created a dangerous situation that escalated to the point where it became reasonable for [the officers] to believe that they were faced with the imminent threat of deadly force.”

The suit also responds directly to that report, arguing it is "is full of errors and is disputed" and "wrong in many material ways."

Esty is fighting for compensation for the severe medical damages, expenses, emotional suffering, mental anguish, pain and death she allegedly endured after her son died.

Bodycam footage of the shooting was released in August 2015, showing the entire altercation between Esty-Lennon and police. Esty-Lennon had blood on his shirt in the video, but police report this is from a self-inflicted stab wound, not officer gunfire.

READ: AG's office releases body cam video of officer-involved shooting in Bath

The Haverhill Police Department released a statement saying, "It is unfortunate that our dedicated police officers have been sued. Our police officers were completely justified in their actions. This matter has already been thoroughly investigated by the New Hampshire Attorney General's office and found to have been completely justified under the circumstances."

They continued by expressing their sympathy for the children and family members affected by Esty-Lennon's death.

Esty's attorney has not yet responded to requests for comment on the suit.

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