AG: Derry officers, private citizen justified in fatal shooting




  • In US
  • 2022-11-30 09:13:00Z
  • By New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

Nov. 30-Three Derry police officers and a private citizen were justified in their use of deadly force during a fatal officer-involved shooting earlier this year, the Attorney General's Office says.

Derry police Lt. Michael Muncey, officer Victoria Kidd and officer Timothy Underhill were the three officers involved in the fatal shooting of Christopher Coppola, 43, on April 9 on Driftwood Road.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said the private citizen was Thomas Watson.

According to the AG Office's final report on the incident, released Tuesday, Derry police responded around 2:17 p.m. when a 911 caller said a person with a shotgun had approached Watson's home and fired at a resident.

Officials said Watson, 31, had returned to his house after driving to pick up food for his 2-year-old daughter's birthday party. His wife and daughter were inside the house.

As Watson sat in his pickup truck, parked facing the street in his driveway, he saw a man he didn't recognize walking down the street toward his home.

Police later identified the man as Coppola, who lived nearby.

"As Mr. Coppola neared Mr. Watson's house, Mr. Watson saw that Mr. Coppola was holding a shotgun," the report reads. "In response, Mr. Watson called 911 to report in substance that an armed man was walking down his street. Mr. Watson also retrieved his legally-owned semiautomatic pistol, which he lawfully stored in the truck, but remained in the vehicle as he spoke to 911."

Officials said Watson watched from inside his truck as Coppola from about 16 yards away fired his shotgun once.

"In response, Mr. Watson left his vehicle and fired his pistol at Mr. Coppola, who was running towards him and on his property," the report states. "Mr. Coppola fired his shotgun at Mr. Watson again, and Mr. Watson fired additional shots from his pistol at Mr. Coppola."

Watson told officials he thought he wounded Coppola, as the man went over and sat down against a tree on Watson's front lawn, still holding the shotgun. Watson repeatedly yelled at Coppola to drop his gun and show his hands, but the man did not comply, officials said.

Watson called 911 again and said he had been fired upon, that the shooter was in his yard and armed with a shotgun, and pleaded for the police to respond quickly.

While Watson was still on the line with 911, several Derry police officers arrived on Driftwood Road, including Muncey, Kidd and Underhill.

Muncey saw Watson in the driveway and Coppola sitting against the tree on the front lawn, holding a long gun in his lap. He told Watson to leave with his family, and he and other officers set up a perimeter around Coppola.

"For several minutes, the police spoke with Mr. Coppola," the report says, telling him to drop his shotgun.

According to the report, Coppola "expressed concern that he was going to go to jail, and repeatedly told the police to shoot him."

As they talked with him, Coppola raised the shotgun toward the officers and fired once.

Muncey, Kidd and Underhill then each fired one shot at Coppola, who was killed in the exchange. No one else was injured.

An autopsy performed by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Mitchell Weinberg showed Coppola suffered three gunshot wounds: one to his forearm, likely from Watson's handgun, and two others, to his upper back and chest, from the police officers' high-velocity rifles.

The cause of death was determined to be the gunshot wound to his chest.

A toxicology report also showed high levels of fentanyl in Coppola's system.

The attorney general's report concludes the use of deadly force by Watson and the three Derry officers was legally justified given the circumstances of the encounter, and the fact that each fired their weapon only after Coppola shot at them.

"Like Mr. Watson before, at that time, unlawful deadly force by Mr. Coppola was not just possible or even imminent, it was active and ongoing."

No charges will be filed in the case, Hinckley said.

Muncey has been a police officer for 23 years, Kidd approximately 11 years, and Underhill approximately four years, the AG's Office said in a news release.

pfeely@unionleader.com

COMMENTS

More Related News

Video adds to questions about police shooting of a double amputee holding a knife
Video adds to questions about police shooting of a double amputee holding a knife
  • US
  • 2023-01-30 03:54:01Z

As they do every week during football season, the Lowe family gathered Sunday morning to watch the NFL games on two big flat screens in the South Los Angeles...

Maxine Waters says Manchin and Sinema
Maxine Waters says Manchin and Sinema 'don't give a darn' about policing reform
  • US
  • 2023-01-30 01:01:55Z

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Sunday said Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) both "don't give a darn" about police reform amid...

Thousands protest Tyre Nichols
Thousands protest Tyre Nichols' death in cities across the US
  • US
  • 2023-01-29 23:23:11Z

Thousands gathered in cities across the country over the weekend to protest the killing of Tyre Nichols, after the release of video footage on Friday showing...

Local reactions to Memphis man
Local reactions to Memphis man's death continue: Actions 'erode trust' in law enforcement
  • US
  • 2023-01-29 23:20:06Z

The beating death of a Black man by Memphis Police officers continues to be sore subject among local law enforcement leaders

'Trail of blood' and unlocked door lead to discovery of dead man, Texas police say
  • US
  • 2023-01-29 22:05:42Z

The man in his twenties had been shot several times, officers said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US