AG: Use of force legally justified in Pittsfield shooting

  • Police officers from several towns engage with Anthony Hannon outside his home during a nearly 24-hour standoff on June 14, 2021. Courtesy of the N.H. Attorney General’s office

  • Officers from several towns engage with Anthony Hannon outside his home during a standoff on June 14, 2021. This image was taken by a neighbor. N.H. Attorney General's office

Monitor staff
Published: 7/28/2022 5:31:48 PM

After a 13-month investigation, the six police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 52-year-old Tony Hannon of Pittsfield last year were cleared of any criminal behavior, the Attorney General’s office said Thursday at a press conference.

Also in the report, the three officers who utilized less-than-lethal tactics by firing 40-millimeter impact weapons and a beanbag shotgun, used to disarm suspects, were within their rights to do so, ending the entire investigation.

“In this case, for all nine officers involved in this incident, the facts of the investigation, coupled with the applicable law, led me to conclude that each officer’s use of deadly force against Mr. Hannon was legally justified,” said Attorney General John Formella, shortly before introducing Peter Hinckley, the Senior Assistant Attorney General, who laid out, in great detail, what happened on June 14, 2021.

Hinckley unveiled photos and video taken by a neighbor, who recorded and snapped from an upstairs window.

In one photo, officers can be seen trying to convince Hannon to put down his pistol as he pointed it toward the right side of his head. In a video, puffs of smoke can be seen coming from officers’ weapons as they hid behind a Bearcat and fired at Hannon, who lived at Lyford Hill Road.

Hannon died at the scene, near his front doorstep.

According to Attorney General John Formella, Pittsfield police raced to 40 Lyford Hill Road sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. after Hannon’s wife told them that Hannon was threatening to kill himself and would not let her or their children leave the house.

Members of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit’s SWAT team arrived at the scene about five hours later and took up positions behind a Bearcat and on each side of the house, hidden by thick tree growth.

Hannon refused to drop his gun, even after he was hit by non-lethal force, and that’s when police opened fire, hitting Hannon three times at about 2 p.m., ending the nearly 24-hour standoff.

Law enforcement individuals who were investigated because of their use of lethal force were named a week after the incident and included Officers Matthew Doyon, Almadin Dzelic and Nicholas McNutt, and Sgt. Craig Levesque from the Concord Police Department; Sergeant Joseph DiGeorge from the Pittsfield police; and Jesse Colby from the Henniker police.

The three other officers from the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit– Sergeant Christian Lovejoy and Detective Thomas Sheveland from Concord, and Bradford Detective Kevin Faria – discharged less-than-lethal weapons during the incident with just cause, the AG ruled.

The Attorney General’s office gave credit to eyewitness accounts and the video and photos taken by a neighbor on Lyford. 

The officers did not wear body or cruiser cameras, which are not required by law in New Hampshire, the Attorney General’s Office said.

He said more officials from state and local police are wearing cameras, and he expects that number to rise in the near future.

“In general, I think body cameras are better for the officers and they’re better for the public,” Formella  said.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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