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FINDINGS OF ESSEX DISTRICT ATTORNEY 1ONATHAN W.

BLODGETT
REGARDING OFFICER INVOLVED FATAL SHOOTING ON
SEPTEMBER 5, 2013 AT LYNN, MASSACHUSETTS
The Essex District Attorney's OIIice and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the
Essex District Attorney's OIIice have concluded the investigation into the shooting and death oI
Denis Reynoso,
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29, oI Lynn, who was shot by a Lynn Police oIIicer at 46 Newcastle Street,
Lynn on September 5, 2013.
The Essex County District Attorney`s OIIice, by statute, has the duty and authority to
oversee all death investigations in Essex County. As such, the goal oI this investigation was to
determine iI the Iatal shooting oI Mr. Reynoso by an on-duty police oIIicer was legally justiIied.
This investigation included a review oI the Iollowing: interviews with civilian witnesses
who were in contact with Mr. Reynoso during the time leading up to the shooting and/or who
were in the area when the shooting occurred; interviews with the responding Lynn Police
oIIicers, evidence Iound at the scene, radio transmissions, and reports oI the Medical Examiner, a
Massachusetts State Police ballistician and an armorer, and police.
A determination as to whether the actions oI the involved police oIIicers could constitute
a criminal act must be considered in light oI the applicable case law on the use oI Iorce by law
enIorcement. To be a lawIul use oI deadly Iorce, the actions oI the oIIicers must be objectively
reasonable, given all oI the Iacts and circumstances conIronting them at the scene. The
determination oI such reasonableness is judged Irom the perspective oI a reasonable oIIicer at
the scene and in that moment in time and not through the perspective oI hindsight. As stated by
the United States Supreme Court, 'The calculus oI reasonableness must embody allowance Ior
the Iact that police oIIicers are oIten Iorced to make split-second judgments in circumstances
that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving about the amount oI Iorce that is necessary in a
particular situation.¨
The investigation revealed the Iollowing Iacts:
1. On September 5, 2013 at approximately 11:12 AM, uniIormed Lynn Police OIIicers
John Bernard, Joshua Hilton and Paul Scali were dispatched to 115 O`Callaghan Way, in
the Kings Lynne apartment complex, to investigate a 911 call. The caller reported that
a Hispanic male wearing black shorts and no shirt was walking around the outside oI a
building, screaming and acting irrationally.
2. Upon arrival, oIIicers were met by two Kings Lynne property management personnel,
who inIormed the oIIicers that the male was acting 'bizzaro,¨ punching himselI in the
chest and yelling and Ilailing his arms at cars passing by. One oI the employees stated
that the man was leaning up against a tree behind the dwelling at 46 Newcastle Street,
waving his hands in the air and yelling; he did not appear to be yelling at anyone in
particular. She saw him enter 46 Newcastle Street. She did not know the man, but was
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In some records, the spelling appears as Dennis.
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concerned because she knew a woman lived in that apartment. She twice told the oIIicers
to 'be careIul.¨ BeIore calling police, the property managers locked their oIIice door
because they were Irightened by the man`s behavior.
3. A maintenance supervisor at Kings Lynne recognized the man as a resident oI the
apartment complex, but did not know his name. He appeared to be upset and was yelling,
'Iucking kill people.¨
4. A visiting nurse, who was attending to a patient in the area, was driving away when the
shirtless man, whom she did not know, chased aIter her vehicle and yelled at her, 'get the
Iuck out oI here.¨ She drove away hurriedly because she was Irightened by the man.
5. A man and a woman who lived nearby saw the man yelling at cars passing by and chasing
aIter the cars.
6. A neighbor oI Denis Reynoso saw him shirtless, swearing, and chasing aIter a car. She
Iurther told police that she had never seen him act this way beIore.
7. As the oIIicers approached the area at Newcastle Street, they met a postal worker, who
inIormed them that he observed a male without a shirt, acting irrationally. He saw the
man enter 46 Newcastle Street, one in a series oI side by side townhouses in the apartment
complex. The postal worker identiIied the man as Denis Reynoso, and told police that
Reynoso had been in the military and suIIered Irom post-traumatic stress.
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The postal
worker said to police, 'Something |is| wrong with the guy.¨ He was Iamiliar with
Reynoso because he had delivered mail to him. He also knew that Reynoso had worked
Ior the Post OIIice. The postal worker told police that Reynoso had conIronted him, and
was yelling and irrational, so much that he was prepared to mace him.
8. OIIicers Bernard and Scali went to the Iront door oI 46 Newcastle Street, while OIIicer
Hilton went to the rear oI the building. OIIicer Bernard could hear screaming and banging
Irom within.
9. OIIicers Bernard and Scali knocked on the door and announced, 'Lynn Police.¨ The door
swung open and a man Iitting the description, now identiIied as Reynoso, said, 'What do
you Iucking want? You know who I am mother Iuckers.¨ OIIicer Bernard asked him iI
everything was okay. OIIicer Bernard`s concern was the well-being oI anyone else who
may have been in the house. Reynoso responded that he 'didn`t need his Iucking help.¨
OIIicer Bernard observed that Reynoso was acting irrationally, and was talking to himselI,
yelling and swearing.
10. Another neighbor observed Reynoso yelling and swearing at the oIIicers whom he
described as calm while talking to Reynoso.
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Subsequent investigation disclosed that Reynoso served in the Army National Guard Irom 2004 to 2010 and
served in Iraq Irom June 2007 to June 2008 as a combat engineer. In June 2012, he was diagnosed by the Veterans`
Administration with post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed medication. He withdrew Irom treatment
aIter this initial diagnosis.
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11. The postal worker observed OIIicers Bernard and Scali Iollow Reynoso into the house.
12. The oIIicers entered the living room where Reynoso sat on the edge oI a couch, rocking
back and Iorth. Reynoso repeated that he 'didn`t need any help.¨ OIIicer Bernard,
a Marine combat veteran, attempted to talk with Reynoso 'vet to vet.¨ Reynoso gave
OIIicer Bernard a 'dead stare¨ and continued swearing in a highly agitated manner.
13. OIIicer Bernard directed OIIicer Scali to go to the rear entrance to let OIIicer Hilton in.
14. OIIicer Scali had walked just a Iew Ieet when Reynoso lunged at OIIicer Bernard,
wrapping his arms around OIIicer Bernard in a bear hug and around his waist. As OIIicer
Bernard struggled to break Iree, Reynoso took OIIicer Bernard`s gun Irom the holster and
held it to OIIicer Bernard`s head. OIIicer Bernard Ielt a gun touching the side oI his head
and yelled, 'gun.¨
15. OIIicer Bernard grabbed the barrel with both hands and pushed it away Irom his head.
As he did so, Reynoso pulled the trigger, Iiring the gun. The round went over OIIicer
Bernard`s head. Reynoso was laughing and said, 'I`ll show you.¨
16. OIIicer Scali grabbed the barrel with both hands. Reynoso pulled the trigger again and
another round went over their heads. OIIicer Scali was deaIened by the blast so close to
his head. During the struggle, Reynoso bit OIIicer Scali on the right Iorearm. OIIicer
Bernard was screaming at Reynoso to let go oI the gun, but Reynoso only laughed.
17. OIIicer Bernard could not get control oI the gun. At one point, the barrel was pointed at
OIIicer Scali who managed to push back. Because two rounds had been Iired, OIIicer
Bernard knew thirteen rounds were leIt in the magazine. OIIicer Bernard thought he was
going to be killed.
18. Reynoso yelled, 'Fucking die.¨
19. From the rear oI the building OIIicer Hilton could hear yelling and banging. He heard
what he thought might be a gunshot so he went to the Iront entrance.
20. OIIicer Hilton entered, saw the struggle, and saw the light Irom the Ilashlight mounted
under the barrel oI OIIicer Bernard`s gun illuminating the ceiling overheard. He heard a
shot and drew his Iirearm. OIIicer Hilton yelled to OIIicer Bernard to shoot Reynoso. He
remembers OIIicer Bernard yelling that it was his gun (with which they were struggling).
21. OIIicer Hilton heard crying and thought that OIIicer Scali had been shot and injured.
22. OIIicer Bernard yelled at OIIicer Hilton to 'shoot him¨ because he thought Reynoso
would Iire another round. OIIicer Bernard attempted to punch Reynoso but still was
unable to get control oI the gun.
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23. OIIicer Hilton observed that Reynoso was in control oI the gun and that OIIicer Bernard
could not get control oI the gun. To warn Reynoso and to alert OIIicer Bernard, he yelled
at least Iive times, 'I am going to shoot him.¨
24. OIIicer Hilton positioned himselI in close range and Iired one round at Reynoso. Reynoso
let go oI the gun and Iell to the Iloor. Only then did OIIicer Scali draw his weapon.
Reynoso continued laughing and screaming, and Ilailing his arms. OIIicer Bernard
radioed Ior assistance.
25. OIIicer Bernard heard crying and saw a young child on the couch in the room, covered by
a blanket. He directed OIIicer Scali to take the child out oI the room, upstairs. The child
was subsequently identiIied as Reynoso`s Iive year old son.
26. OIIicer Bernard then did a quick sweep oI the house to see iI anyone else was there and
then checked OIIicer Scali and the child to ensure that they had not been shot.
27. OIIicers observed that the apartment, aside Irom the area oI the struggle, had been trashed
Iurniture smashed and destroyed. They also smelled a strong odor oI marijuana in the
upstairs bedroom. OIIicers recovered a bag oI marijuana Irom the upstairs bedroom.
28. Within one minute oI the shooting, Lynn Fire and EMTs were dispatched to the scene.
Reynoso continued to Ilail at personnel, making Iirst aid diIIicult. Reynoso attempted to
bite a IireIighter. Reynoso continued to be combative and had to be restrained Ior EMTs
to attend to him.
29. Reynoso was transported by EMS to Lynn Union Hospital where he underwent surgery.
He was pronounced dead at 4:12 PM.
30. An autopsy was conducted at the OIIice oI the Medical Examiner by Dr. Katherine
Lindstrom. She determined that cause oI death was a single gunshot wound to the leIt
Ilank. Dr. Lindstrom also noted contusions to the back oI both hands, both thighs, and
right arm.
31. Toxicology results reIlect Reynoso tested positive on a cannabinoid screen with a Iinding
oI Delta-9 Carboxy THC oI 20 nanograms/milliliter.
32. Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services recovered two spent projectiles and
two discharged cartridge casings at the scene, one cartridge casing that had Iailed to eject
Irom OIIicer Hilton`s Iirearm, and one spent projectile during the autopsy. According to a
Massachusetts State Police ballistician, the projectiles all were consistent with ammunition
issued by the Lynn Police Department. The two cartridge casings Iound on the scene were
Iired Irom OIIicer Bernard`s Iirearm and the casing lodged in OIIicer Hilton`s Iirearm was
Iired Irom OIIicer Hilton`s Iirearm.
33. There was no recovery oI gunshot residue on Reynoso`s hands. The Iorensic scientist
cited several possible reasons Ior this: when Reynoso was prepped Ior surgery, the
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cleansing might have removed the residue, and testing was done aIter 4 hours elapsed and
is considered unreliable at that point.
34. The State Police armorer examined OIIicer Bernard`s holster and gun. He Iound the
tension screw on the bottom inside was missing and the holster was somewhat worn. He
Iound the gun was loose while in the holster and that it could be removed easily with all
saIety devices engaged.
35. DNA testing was perIormed on the grip, trigger, Ilashlight, bottom oI the magazine and
slide oI OIIicer Bernard`s Iirearm. The DNA proIile is a mixture oI at least three people
and Reynoso cannot be excluded as a possible contributor to this mixture.
CONCLUSION
Based upon the Iacts presented and the case law pertaining to the use oI Iorce to deIend
oneselI or another, it is determined that the oIIicers were in imminent danger oI being shot by
Reynoso and he posed an immediate danger oI killing or seriously injuring others.
Reynoso gained control oI OIIicer Bernard`s weapon, pointed it at OIIicer Bernard`s
head and Iired two shots. OIIicer Hilton reasonably believed that his Iellow oIIicers were in
danger oI serious injury or death and, thereIore, bears no criminal responsibility Ior shooting
Reynoso in deIense oI himselI and others.
This matter is now reIerred to the Lynn Police Department Ior whatever internal
administrative review is deemed appropriate.
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