BOSTON, MA- Well, we’d like to say you can’t make it up, but it’s 2020 and after all, it is Massachusetts we are talking about.
Earlier this year, we reported on an officer-involved shooting in the Boston suburb of Brookline where police shot and killed Juston Root, 41, after he pulled out a facsimile firearm and pointed it at police outside Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Now a federal judge has ruled that a wrongful death suit against the police can proceed, according to WCVB-5 in Boston.
Police engaged Root in pursuit to a shopping center on Route 9 in Brookline, where traffic camera video showed Root’s car slamming into several vehicles where the pursuit ended.
According to a report filed by the Norfolk District Attorney, a total of 31 shots were fired at Root by six police officers; Root was hit 26 times.
Root’s family, which to our knowledge have no police training, said police were not following protocol.
“It actually blows my mind when I really think about him dying there and how they handled him and the total disregard for life,” said Root’s sister Jennifer. “The total disregard, to seeing what was in front of them. There was no way he was a threat.”
The family says police need better training on dealing with people with mental illness [pointing a facsimile firearm at them we guess].
Investigators from the District Attorney’s office determined the shooting was justified, noting that officers reported seeing Root reach for what appeared to be a gun in his coat. The gun turned out being a BB gun.
The lawsuit names the city of Boston, five Boston police officers and Massachusetts state trooper as defendants.
Following is our original reporting on the incident from February, 2020.
A man who pulled what appeared to be a firearm on Boston police outside Brigham and Women’s hospital appears to have made a fatal mistake with a replica gun.
Earlier this month, Juston Root, 41, of Mattapan was encountered by police after they responded to the area of the hospital for a report of a man with a gun.
According to police, on Feb. 7, Root pulled what appeared to be a gun and pointed it at officers.
Responding officers shot at the suspect, who drove off in a vehicle, and later crashed in Brookline. After crashing into numerous vehicles, Root got out of his care and once again pulled what appeared to be a gun on police, according to authorities.
Despite repeated orders to drop the gun, police shot Root. He was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was pronounced dead.
On Tuesday, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced at a press conference that the gun Root was carrying was in fact a facsimile of a real firearm. During the incident on Feb. 7, a hospital valet was also struck by a bullet, which was originally thought to have been fired by Root.
“The investigation revealed that the weapon recovered on scene near Mr. Root in Norfolk County, which he brandished in Suffolk County, was not a working firearm,” Rollins said. “We can therefore, determine that the valet was struck by a bullet discharged by a Boston police officer.”
In light of the new information, however it appears it was “friendly fire” from one of the responding Boston PD officers. The valet was injured, although not seriously.
“We are very, very happy that he is alive,” said Rollins at a press conference Tuesday which discussed the investigation’s initial findings.
Rollins was unable to comment on what happened in Brookline since it’s in Norfolk County, she did note that Root had pulled what appeared to be a gun on a hospital security officer and threatened them, which led to the 911 call and police response.
.@DARollins says when @bostonpolice responded to a report of a man w/a gun @BrighamWomens Feb 7-Juston Root, tried to deflect attention away from himself. She says Root pulled gun & officers opened fire after he didn’t comply w/commands. Root’s gun was a replica firearm #Wcvb pic.twitter.com/dZoFjY7G89
— Kathy Curran (@KathyReports) February 25, 2020
Root then chased two security guards down Vining Street, Rollins said. When police arrived on scene, Root stopped chasing the security guards and actually tried to send officers up Vining Street, “in an apparent attempt to deflect police’s attention elsewhere.”
Root then was contacted by a Boston officer, who noted what appeared to be a gun in Root’s waistband. The officer ordered him to stop, but Root pulled the “firearm” out and started to pull the trigger, Rollins said.
The officer fired at Root, and another officer who witnessed what happened also shot at Root.
At least one of the rounds struck Root, who got into a Chevy Volt “that he had abandoned in the middle of the street and fled,” Rollins said. It was during this time that the valet was also struck.
Our valet colleague is being cared for by our clinical teams and is in serious but stable condition. His family members have expressed gratitude for our community’s care of their loved one. As they focus on his recovery, they have requested privacy.
— Brigham and Women's (@BrighamWomens) February 7, 2020
Rollins showed reporters at the press conference a video of the encounter between Root and police outside the hospital, describing the replica as “very realistic.”
Rollins said that the matter is still under investigation by her office, and they will make a determination of the officers’ actions adjacent to the hospital were appropriate.
When asked if police acted appropriately, Rollins said:
“That’s ultimately what we will be determining, and we will not rush to judgment there.”
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Since Rollins is a George Soros stooge and has basically thrown down with criminals in Suffolk County, we wouldn’t be too optimistic for how this is going to turn out. We shall see.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said that the scene unfolded “in a matter of seconds.” He noted that killing was not the intent of the responding officers, but that information had to be processed quickly, with only seconds to act.
“Things happened within a matter of seconds, and I can honestly tell you it is not the intent of any police officer…to go out and be involved in an officer-involved shooting that may end in a fatality,” he said.
“We’re human too,” he said during the press conference. “Quite frankly, you can see, that officer was definitely in fear for his life.”
The valet continues to recover. He has been only identified on a GoFundMe page as Justin. Rollins noted that his eye was injured during the incident, and that while his retina was detached during the incident, it is still functioning.
Gross said, “I did speak with the valet this morning, and I’m just grateful that he’s alive and that he’s in good spirts, and we had a great talk.”
Rollins said that it is possible that the valet was injured by a ricochet from a bullet, but they are still trying to determine exactly how he was wounded. The valet has since been released from the hospital.
As far as Root, officials have not been able to determine a motive for the shooting.
“We have the ability now to know a little bit more about that individual,” Rollins said of Root, “but I would never try to speculate what Mr. Root was thinking when he engaged in this behavior.”
Gross made a special point to thank the hospital staff, noting that they had been through something similar back in 2015 when a gunman shot and killed Dr. Michael Davidson at the hospital.
“The staff and administration must have been triggered by this incident, because they had to go through the same type of hardship before,” Gross said.
In a statement, Brigham Health President Dr. Betsy Nabel was thankful for the police response to the hospital.
“On behalf of our Brigham family, I want to thank the many members of law enforcement who responded to our campus on Feb. 7,” Nabel wrote. “We are immensely grateful for their commitment to protect and serve our community.”
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