Town, police say they’re protected from liability in shooting

  • A still image from a Haverhill police officer’s body camera shows the encounter with Hagen Esty-Lennon. The town’s attorneys are calling for the videos to be released. Courtesy

Associated Press
Thursday, October 12, 2017

A town and two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man who lunged at them with a knife in 2015 say they are protected from liability in a lawsuit filed against them by the man’s mother.

The mother of Hagen Esty-Lennon of Canterbury sued in February, alleging officers violated her son’s constitutional rights. Donna Esty also alleges wrongful death, infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, negligent training and conspiracy on the part of the officers.

Esty-Lennon, 41, crashed his car in Bath and staggered away from the accident with a self-inflicted knife wound in his chest, police said. The officers ordered Esty-Lennon to drop the knife and shot him six times when he refused and lunged at them, authorities said.

The town of Haverhill, Officer Ryan Jarvis and former officer Gregory Collins filed a motion in federal court Friday, saying they are protected from liability for wrongful death under several state laws on civil immunity, physical force in law enforcement and bodily injury actions against government agencies. They said other claims are meritless.

Lawyers for the officers said they didn’t use deadly force until Esty-Lennon was less than 15 feet away, the Caledonian Record reported.

“Under these circumstances, Officer Jarvis and Officer Collins both had a subjective and objective reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to defend themselves and others in the area,” the motion said.

The state attorney general’s office ruled that the Bath shooting was “legally justified,” and the AG cleared the two officers. The shooting was captured on police video.

Investigators say Esty-Lennon’s landlady told them he seemed to be suffering from hallucinations in the weeks before the shooting.

A civil trial is scheduled for March.