Investigators working to determine if deadly officer-involving shooting was justified

GRAFTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Authorities are working to determine whether a deadly officer-involved shooting in Brookline earlier this month that began with a violent confrontation outside of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston was justified — a task that is expected to take months.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released a video of the moment 41-year-old Juston Root pointed a replica weapon at a Boston police officer on Feb. 7, prompting the officer to open fire, triggering a wild car chase into Brookline, where Root crashed and was fatally shot by police.

After viewing the video, David O’Laughlin of the Municipal Police Institute said he believes the officers were right to act as they did.

“When an officer’s life is in jeopardy or the life of another is in jeopardy, then lethal force is justified,” he explained.

O’Laughlin trains police officers in the use of force and has testified for and against officers involved in deadly shootings.

He said that Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrisey will be looking at not only what happened at the scene of Root’s death in Brookline but also what happened in front of the hospital in Boston before making his decision.

“The DA is looking at the totality of the circumstances, what took place at the very beginning of the police involvement right up to and including the end of the police involvement.”

O’Laughlin told 7’s Byron Barnett that the officer’s state of mind is key to making these decisions.

“The most important thing that we have here Byron is the officer’s perception. Did that officer feel that his life or the life of another was in jeopardy at the time that he fired the weapon.”

He said the fact that the weapon Root allegedly pulled out and aimed at police was only a replica does not lessen the threat.

“This is a training gun, we use this when we are teaching defensive tactics,” O’Laughlin said holding a blue plastic gun. “But, if I were to take this and point this at you in this fashion in the dark or in limited light, I think you might be terrified and if you were to point this at me while I was acting as a police officer, I would respond properly.”

A spokesperson for the Norfolk district attorney said he is in the process of finalizing his report regarding the incident.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)