Man who stabbed Mass state trooper in planned attack found not guilty by trial judge for “lack of criminal responsibility”

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LAWRENCE, MA- This is one of the worst miscarriages of justice we at Law Enforcement Today have seen in some time.

Last week in Lawrence Superior Court in Massachusetts, a man who was charged with an unprovoked attack on a Massachusetts State Trooper on Interstate 495 in 2019 was found not guilty, according to an Essex County district Attorney’s Office spokesperson.

Nathan Aguilar had been arrested on Dec. 12, 2019, after he stabbed Trooper Steven Torosian several times in the arm as he sat in his cruiser at a highway construction site in the town of Amesbury.

Last week, he was found not guilty for lack of criminal responsibility following a bench trial, the Newburyport News reported.

The not guilty verdict, rendered by Judge Jackie Cowin reached the verdict after two experts, one affiliated with the DA’s Office and one hired by the defense team reached the same conclusion, that being Aguilar could not distinguish right from wrong.

Quite understandably, the verdict drew quick condemnation from the union which represents Massachusetts state troopers, the State Police Association of Massachusetts, which called the decision a “sad day” for law enforcement in general, and Trooper Torosian in particular.

“The State Police Association of Massachusetts is deeply concerned with a bench trial that lasted less than half a day. Nathan Aguilar being found ‘not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect’ is a failure of justice…plain and simple,” a statement from the police union read.

The union has good reason to be upset. This was not a spur of the moment attack, as the union noted. They said that Aguilar planned the attack in advance, disguised himself, and “violently entered” Torosian’s cruiser.

“This was an unprovoked and planned ambush that resulted in the medical retirement of Trooper Torosian. How is that not premeditation?” the statement reads.

“Troopers go to work each and every day with the understanding that we may not return home and that our loved ones could receive a knock on the door that they dread. All we ask is that the other members of our legal system defend us, like we defend each member of the public.”

The Boston Herald reported that in a Facebook post, the union took the judge to task.

“This is a sad day for law enforcement, Trooper Torosian, and the criminal justice system. Judge Jackie Cowin should be ashamed of this decision to allow a cold-blooded attempted murderer to go free,” they wrote.

The union continued:

“Nathan Aguilar planned his attack. He drove to a construction site. He parked behind Trooper Stephen Torosian. He put on clothing to make himself appear to be part of the work crew. Then he violently entered Trooper Torosian’s cruiser,” they wrote.

 

The Herald reported that Aguilar had driven up in a gold minivan on the morning in question, approached the driver’s side of the cruiser and attacked Torosian.

Despite being inside the cruiser with his seatbelt on, Torosian was able to draw his service weapon and shoot Aguilar, striking him in the chest which led to him being paralyzed from the neck down, state police said at the time.

 

At the time of the attack, Aguilar was wearing a hat, a mask that covered his face, tan pants, and a reflective vest, indicating he was trying to blend in as part of the construction crew, which police say indicated premeditation on his part.

Torosian was treated for numerous lacerations to his left arm, while Aguilar was flown to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Torosian had been assigned to the Andover state police barracks.

Aguilar recently was recognized by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, receiving the Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Award for Bravery.

“His immediate actions most likely saved his life as well as those of the unsuspecting construction crew working only a few feet away from him,” a state police statement issued the day of the ceremony read.

“In addition, recognizing that the suspect had been wearing a high-visibility traffic vest during the assault like that of a construction worker, Trooper Torosian had the forethought to broadcast that description over the radio to alert other detail cruisers in the area in case this had been the start of a coordinated terrorist attack against law enforcement.”

You wonder why cops are leaving the job? Here’s a shining example of why.

Two men arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a Chicago cop after shooting him during a traffic stop

For our report on another Massachusetts state trooper who had to fight for his life last year, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

STOUGHTON, MA – A Boston man is being held without bail after allegedly attempting to murder a Massachusetts State Police trooper during a traffic stop.

According to a statement by State Police, on Saturday January 30, the unidentified trooper clocked Devin Fuller, 29, going 81 mph in a 55 mph zone for at least one mile in a purple Dodge Charger.

After pulling Fuller over, the trooper noted that Fuller’s license had been suspended three days earlier due to an “immediate threat notification.”

The trooper repeatedly requested that Fuller exit his vehicle, during which time Fuller kept glancing at the center console.  

After Fuller ignored the trooper’s multiple requests, the trooper attempted to take Fuller’s arm and escort him from the Charger.

According to police, Fuller then struck the trooper in the face and reached for the console.  The trooper, fearing Fuller was reaching for a weapon, brought the suspect out of the vehicle into the breakdown lane.

At that point, Fuller struck the trooper repeatedly, tackled him, choked him, and drove his face into the ground.

When the men rose back to their feet, Fuller placed the trooper’s life in severe jeopardy.

According to State Police spokesman Dave Procopio:

“Fuller grabbed him with both arms and drove him 15 to 20 feet into and across two travel lanes.”

An oncoming car had to swerve into a different lane to avoid hitting the trooper.

The fight then went again to the ground, and Fuller grabbed at the trooper’s duty belt and reached for his gun.  The trooper placed both hands on his gun to prevent the suspect from grabbing it.

An off-duty trooper was driving by and stopped to assist.

At that point, Fuller re-entered his vehicle, drove in reverse in the wrong direction for approximately 100 yards, and then weaved down the highway at approximately 140 mph.

The trooper, assisted by the off-duty trooper and the Stoughton police, pursued the suspect into an industrial area.  Fuller ditched his car and proceeded on foot into a wooded area.

Stoughton police arrested Fuller behind a nearby Hampton Inn & Suites.

A search of the car revealed hydrocodone tablets, marijuana, and three THC edibles.  In addition, according to police, there was evidence in the car “consistent with packaging and distribution of illegal narcotics.”

Fuller was arraigned on Monday, February 1, on charges including “assault with intent to murder, assault and battery on a police officer and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.”

The suspect’s attorney, Moya Gibson, argued in court that “there are always two sides to every story.”

Gibson claimed that Fuller was “afraid for his safety” and that he had requested another trooper be called to the scene as a witness.

Gibson added that Fuller “was very concerned about the aggressive nature of the trooper” and “was concerned about the potential for violence.”

The attorney also claimed that Fuller, unaware that his license was suspended, did not comply with lawful requests to exit his vehicle because Fuller was afraid of “being alone with the trooper.”

In addition, Gibson argued that the vehicle did not belong to Fuller, and that he had no idea that there were drugs present.

Other charges that Fuller faces include “resisting arrest, speeding, negligent driving, reckless driving, disturbing the peace, two counts of possession with intent to sell narcotics and other traffic crimes.”

Fuller is being held without bail, and he is to return to court on Wednesday, February 3, for a dangerousness hearing.  A judge will then decide whether he is a danger to the public and whether he is to be held in jail for up to 120 days pending trial.

According to State Police, after Fuller’s arrest, the state trooper was treated at Beth Israel Deaconess-Milton Hospital “for contusions and lacerations to his head and upper body and a lower-body injury.”

State Police spokesman Dave Procopio reported on Monday, February 1, that the trooper was recovering from his multiple injuries sustained in the altercation.

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War on law enforcement: Massachusetts Senate passes police reform bill, bans chokeholds and racial profiling

 

BOSTON, MA – A bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate – that still requires both approval from the state House and the governor – aims to introduce police reform in numerous manners. 

When reviewing some of the proposed reforms, it seems to be a hodge-podge of reasonable reforms, redundant reforms, hamstringing of police reforms and seemingly pointless reforms. 

During the approval by the state Senate on December 1st, members of the Senate held a “moment of silence” for George Floyd. While perhaps performative to a degree, at least this moment of silence was devoid of kneeling with kente cloths

A general rundown of what this police reform bill, approved by the state Senate, covers is a limitation on qualified immunity protections of officers relating to lawsuits, banning chokeholds, racial profiling and the use of facial recognition technology. 

The bill also calls for the creation of a Standards and Training Commission to certify police officers and aid in alleged police misconduct cases. It also requires police officers to step in when a colleague is exerting excessive force. 

Massachusetts state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz referred to the passing within the Senate as a proud moment of her time within the legislature: 

“It is one of the proudest processes and pieces of work that I have had the privilege to participate in in my 12 years in this body.”

But, when affording an honest examination of some of the proposed reforms set forth in the bill passed by the Senate – there seems to be a mixed bag of sensical, nonsensical and essentially reforms of posturing rather than attainable substance. 

For instance, when looking at the reforms that make sense and seem to serve best interests, the Standards and Training Commission portion and compelling officers to intervene when a colleague oversteps their use-of-force or authority, make sense. 

With the SATC being involved in officer certifications and helping to investigate wrongdoings by police, it’s as simple as assembling the outfit and letting them get to work. 

There’s certainly nothing wrong with adding an additional facet to the process of ensuring great officers are onboarded and alleged misconduct is thoroughly investigated. 

When it comes to enabling good officers to put other officers ‘in check’ when they’re coloring outside of the proverbial lines, that’s also a great thing. If there’s one thing that good police officers cannot stand, it’s a bad police officer putting a stain on the badge. 

Then there’s the nice-on-paper seemingly redundant, and almost difficult to both enforce and monitor portion of the bill that bans “racial profiling” in policing. 

According to Oxford’s definition of “racial profiling” in a criminology context, it is defined as the following: 

“Racial profiling denotes the practice of targeting or stopping an individual based primarily on his or her race rather than more appropriate suspicious characteristics or behaviors.”

Obviously racial profiling is bad, but also, racial profiling (if it genuinely transpired in a policing scenario) is extremely difficult to prove unless there’s just some blatant giveaways betraying the act. 

Furthermore, the act of racial profiling is already admonished and, generally speaking, prohibited in one way or another at every police department across the country. 

Then there are the portions of the bill that hamstring police officers in certain scenarios – namely the banning of chokeholds. State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said the following about that aspect of the bill: 

“So we now have a situation where a law enforcement officer whose life is in jeopardy would not be allowed to use a chokehold in a defensive way.”

Tarr’s mentioning of such makes complete sense.

If chokeholds are banned, why not just ban police having guns as well since they’re considerably more lethal than a chokehold? 

Rhetorical questioning aside, the idea of banning chokeholds makes zero sense considering that when in a combative scenario where a suspect is trying to grievously harm an officer, there shouldn’t be anything dubbed as a “banned” practice of defending one’s self. 

Which then brings us to the qualified immunity aspects as well.

If an officer is getting attacked, but either cannot or chooses not to use their firearm and opts for a chokehold, then there’s now an officer who didn’t commit a crime but is open to a lawsuit due to trying to take on qualified immunity. 

Police officers do not have the leisure of avoiding a dangerous situation when criminal conduct is involved and they’re present.

Their job compels them to inject themselves into scenarios where the subject or subjects they must detain will likely not be abiding by the very rules imposed on officers when it comes to a de facto Geneva Convention sort of rules of engagement when matters become combative. 

Furthermore, this proposed bill has already introduced language aimed at preventing excessive force when witnessed by other officers. Excessive force is already illegal as well, as it is tantamount to battery. 

So, of course, whether an officer yanks a driver out of a car or drops a chokehold two-seconds into a roadside stop for a turn signal violation, that is already covered through-and-through. 

But the idea of attempting to ban a defensive technique no matter what the circumstances are, is simply terrible legislation and betrays an inability to acknowledge the nuances of police and suspect interactions. 

As for facial recognition technology, well, that’s been a hot topic around the country. 

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

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