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Vermont man involved in I-89 shooting pleads guilty to N.H. charges

  • Bryan Evans

  • A screen grab of the video of the police shooting from May 19, 2017, on Interstate 89 in Hopkinton, shows suspect Bryan Evans holding his hands in what authorities described as a “gun-style fashion.” Courtesy

  • A screen grab of the video of the police shooting from May 19, 2017, on Interstate 89 in Hopkinton. Courtesy

  • Bryan Evans enters court before pleading guilty to two counts of criminal threatening and one count of disobeying an officer in Merrimack County Superior Court on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Evans was sentenced to three one-year prison sentences, all suspended on good behavior, and two years of probation. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Bryan Evans (left), along with his lawyer Timothy Goulden, listens to the case presented by Merrimack County attorney Carley Ahern in Merrimack County Superior Court on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal threatening and one count of disobeying an officer. He was sentenced to three one-year prison sentences, all suspended on good behavior, and two years of probation. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Things could have gone a lot worse for Bryan Evans.

In May, the Attorney General’s Office found that the Quechee, Vt., man put police officers in fear of bodily harm by refusing to show his hands during a May 19 standoff on Interstate 89 in Hopkinton.

After leading New Hampshire State Police Troopers Michael Arteaga and Daniel Livingstone on a chase, Evans – despite requests that he show his hands – instead pulled them out in a “gun-style fashion,” prompting officers to shoot at him. At least one bullet fired by Arteaga struck him in the leg.

The incident hospitalized Evans, and he was still using crutches when he entered his plea at a sentencing hearing Wednesday morning in Merrimack County Superior Court.

But after being indicted on felony drug and stolen vehicle charges in June, Evans ended up pleading guilty to three misdemeanor charges and left the courthouse with no jail time in New Hampshire pending good behavior.

Evans pleaded to two counts of criminal threatening and one count of disobeying an officer. He was sentenced to three one-year prison sentences, all suspended on good behavior, and two years of probation.

During the hearing, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Robert McNamara asked Evans a series of questions to make sure he understood the charges. One question – how much education Evans had (answer: a bachelor’s degree) – seemed to give McNamara pause.

“Why would you do something so stupid?” he asked Evans.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Evans said.

Evans was previously charged with possessing a quantity of cocaine and fentanyl and driving his mother’s 2017 Toyota Camry, which he knew had been stolen from her. However, Merrimack County assistant attorney Carley Ahern said his mother did not want to pursue the stolen vehicle charge.

However, Ahern said prosecutors ultimately dropped the drug charges because only a “trace” amount of drug evidence was found with Evans and they instead focused on his conduct with the officers. She said the position was “fair,” and took into account that Evans is 31 with no prior criminal record, has been in drug and alcohol treatment, and has already suffered a “punitive” consequences for his crimes.

“Ultimately, he was shot in the leg, and I know when we consider sentencing there are the three components, which is a punitive sanction, a deterrent and a rehabilitative sanction,” Ahern said. “And although being shot is technically a punitive sanction, I do think that has had a lasting effect on him; I think there is still a possibility he may lose his leg, things like that. The state did take that into consideration.”

Ahern said Evans has been out on probation on his Vermont charges since August. Previously, Evans had pleaded not guilty to all charges in New Hampshire and Vermont. She said she believes Evans’s probation will be transferred to Vermont, where he lives.

The episode with Evans began in Vermont and spilled into New Hampshire. Police were looking for the Camry, which had been reported stolen. The car was spotted at 6:47 p.m. May 19 on I-89 in the Sutton area, and Evans initially refused to pull over for New Hampshire State Police.

When Evans did pull over in Hopkinton between Exits 6 and 7, he refused to obey commands to show his hands; instead, “Evans quickly pulled his hand out of his jacket and pointed his hands in a two-handed, gun style fashion at the officers,” a report from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office says. “These actions on the part of Evans led officers to reasonably believe that he had a gun pointed at them, and therefore prompted three officers to fire or attempt to fire their weapons at him.”

Prior to showing his hands, Evans told Livingstone, a K-9 officer, that “if you release the dog you’re a dead man,” or words similar to that effect, the report says.

New London police Officer James MacKenna, State Police Troopers Arteaga and Livingstone fired at Evans, according to reports. MacKenna fired one shot from a rifle and missed; Livingstone attempted to shoot at Evans, but his handgun “malfunctioned and did not fire,” and Arteaga fired two shots from his handgun and hit Evans in the left leg, according to the AG’s report. Police were found to be justified in their actions. Evans was unarmed.

Last year, the Monitor found that 32 civilians were shot by police from 2005 to June 2016. In those incidents, all but three of the civilians shot by police were men. The median age was 38, and nearly all had previous contact with law enforcement.

Nearly two thirds of the civilians shot were killed.

In June, state police Sgt. Keith Walker and Trooper Erik Willett shot Barry Jones, 36, at the Hampton liquor store along Interstate 95 on June 13 following reports that Jones was intoxicated, had borrowed his neighbor’s pickup truck and had a handgun.

Jones was reported to have a history of mental health problems and, during the incident, reached into his waistband and pulled out what looked like a handgun but was later determined to be a semi-automatic pellet gun. He then pointed it at the officers, prompting them to fire four shots, hitting Jones in the back, abdomen and left shoulder. He later died at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

In July, two Keene police officers fired on Patrick Letendre, 28, who suffered injuries that were not deemed life-threatening. Letendre, who had consumed alcohol during the incident, was becoming agitated while his girlfriend and her daughter were moving out of their apartment, police said.

In September, Belmont police officer Evan Boulanger fired on Joseph Mazzitelli Jr. at a Belmont gas station. Boulanger recognized Mazzitelli, who was wanted on an active warrant, and Mazzitelli displayed a firearm when Boulanger attempted to arrest him, authorities said. Both men fired, but while Mazzitelli was shot by Boulanger, the state Attorney General’s Office determined Mazzitelli died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

After finalizing the sentence, McNamara wasted no time letting Evans know that things could have gone differently.

“This could have ended very badly,” he said. “You’re bright enough to know that.”

Evans, who was standing despite McNamara telling him he didn’t have to due to his injury, didn’t look away.

“Yes sir,” he said.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)