Franklin man to serve minimum of 10 years following standoff

  • Ryan Brouillard leaves Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday after his plea and sentencing on charges stemming from a Dec. 28 standoff with police in Franklin.

  • Franklin police Sgt. Eric Drouin struggles to contain his emotions in Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday as he recalls a standoff with convicted felon Ryan Brouillard on Dec. 28. Brouillard was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Ryan Brouillard leaves Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday, September 14, 2017, after his plea and sentencing on charges stemming from a Dec. 28 standoff with police in Franklin. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Franklin police Sgt. Eric Drouin struggled to contain his emotions in court Thursday as he recalled a conversation he’d had with his young daughters about a man who’d fired in his direction and threatened to kill police.

Hours had passed since the Dec. 28 standoff outside a Franklin home, but the manhunt was still underway for Ryan Brouillard, a convicted felon who was considered armed and dangerous, Drouin recalled.

“They’d asked if I’d been shot at. My oldest daughter had tears in her eyes,” Drouin said at Brouillard’s sentencing. “I wiped away her tears and told her not to worry. They gave me a big hug and kiss and told me they loved me.”

Police officers had searched for Brouillard for more than 72 hours, eventually forcing him out of a mobile home in Concord on Dec. 31. He had barricaded himself inside a bathroom there in an attempt to evade capture a second time. Until Drouin received news of Brouillard’s arrest, he was unable to sleep.

“Mr. Brouillard’s actions have not only affected me, my fellow officers, but my family as well,” he said Thursday morning in Merrimack County Superior Court.

At one point during the standoff, Drouin’s finger was on the trigger of his duty weapon, ready to fire. But an acquaintance of Brouillard’s had stepped into the line of fire, forcing Drouin to retreat. Drouin surmised that the shot would have been fatal.

Brouillard, a convicted felon, was on parole at the time of the standoff. At age 34, he has already served three prior prison sentences and will now spend a minimum of 10 more years behind bars for his latest crimes. He pleaded guilty Thursday to a total of 16 charges, receiving concurrent prison sentences for most, plus an additional 10- to 20-year sentence, all suspended for 15 years from the date of his release.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Joseph Cherniske argued that Brouillard is a “very real danger” to the community, and that what happened this past December was far more than “an isolated, poor decision.”

“It was either kill or be killed at that residence,” he said.

The threat of violence that law enforcement officers face on a daily basis took front and center at Thursday’s plea and sentencing hearing. Franklin police Chief David Goldstein and several members of the department filled two small benches behind the prosecutor’s table to show their support for a significant sentence for Brouillard.

While Brouillard’s attorneys recommended a sentence of seven to 14 years, Cherniske argued for a 10- to 20-year term of imprisonment, although he noted that some officers felt that still wasn’t enough.

“This was life-changing for the members of the Franklin Police Department,” Cherniske recalled Goldstein telling him during a conversation Wednesday.

Brouillard’s attorney, Emma Sisti, said she was in agreement with the state that her client is eligible for an extended term of imprisonment given his record and the latest charges. However, she said, she felt the additional time should be reflected in the suspended sentence and not in the time served.

“What I’d like to stress to the court, and I think Mr. Brouillard has been open about this, and that is he has a substance abuse problem,” Sisti said. “It completely puts him in a place that he is not in when he’s sober.”

She said a minimum of seven rather than 10 years would allow Brouillard the opportunity to seek treatment sooner.

“Prison is not going to change him. Just by being in prison alone is not going to suddenly change his ways,” she told the court.

Judge John Kissinger Jr., who presided over the hearing, said he understood the defendant’s substance abuse history and his battles with mental illness, but said the severity of Brouillard’s crimes took precedent.

“The circumstances here, if anything, in my view, would warrant a departure on the upward end given the seriousness of the conduct,” he said.

Kissinger said there are opportunities for Brouillard to address his substance use from inside the prison, and that Brouillard doesn’t need to wait until his release to begin the recovery process. Kissinger recognized that treatment options in prison are limited, but that he could not justify imposing a lesser sentence to allow for early treatment when Brouillard poses such a safety risk.

“Prisons serve a very important purpose,” he said, “and one of them is to isolate the truly dangerous from society from the rest of us.”