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Massachusetts police officer fatally shoots suspect accused of stabbing him in face

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood. (Jeanette DeForge/Republican staff/TNS)

A city police officer shot and killed a suspect who is accused of stabbing him in the face Sunday morning.

“The suspect charged towards the (two) officers with his knife in hand and the officer was forced to fire two shots from his service pistol striking the subject both times,” Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood said.

The incident started at about 8:30 a.m. when the injured officer and his partner responded to reports of a man who threatened a victim with a knife near the intersection of Liberty and Cass streets. Shortly afterward police located a man who matched the description of the knife-wielding suspect on Genesee Street, Clapprood said.

When they confronted the man, he pulled out a knife, she said.

“The suspect, an adult male, … then stabbed one of the two responding officers in the face after being told multiple times to drop the weapon,” Clapprood said.

The two officers, including the one who was bleeding from wounds in his face, provided first aid and the man was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, she said. He later died at Baystate Medical Center.

Police did not immediately release the names of the officer or the man who was killed.

The injured officer is currently being treated at Baystate Medical Center for serious injuries, Clapprood said.

“His injuries are non-life-threatening but they are devastating to him and his family,” she said. “We are extremely lucky today that we are not here to discuss a police officer killed in the line of duty.”

The officer, a nine-year veteran of the police force, served in the military before beginning his law enforcement career. He has received multiple accolades for performing life-saving acts, said Ryan Walsh, police spokesman.

She said no officer wants to be involved in a situation like this one and no one expects it, especially on an icy Sunday morning.

“I’m so sorry to the victim’s and suspect’s family we do not want to see loss of life. That’s not what we are about, but unfortunately in our line of business it can happen,” Clapprood said. “Prayers to his family and to him and prayers to my officers and a speedy recovery to our officer at Baystate.”

He and his partner have been placed on paid, administrative leave, which is the Springfield Police Department’s policy for any officer-involved shooting. Both will undergo critical incident training before they return to duty, she said.

The Springfield Police detective bureau, under the direction of Capt. Trent Duda, responded to the scene is investigating the incident along with the office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, Clapprood said.

Clapprood and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said they have reviewed video from the body-worn cameras of the officer who shot the man and his partner. Detectives also have multiple other videos and witness statements they will examine as part of the investigation.

Police did not immediately release the footage from the body-worn cameras but said they will when Gulluni gives his approval, Clapprood said.

Sarno called the situation “tragic” and offered his sympathy to the family of the man killed.

In reviewing the footage from the body cameras, Sarno said the officers repeatedly told the man to “drop the weapon” and he would not. Even after the officer was stabbed with the knife, police backpedaled and the man ran away but then lunged at them again.

Sarno said he has watched and participated in video training simulations that police use and said, in his opinion, this is a situation where the officers were in serious danger.

“In my eyes, unfortunately, it was justified,” Sarno said. “Deadly force was used against one of our officers and in turn the officer, unfortunately, had to use deadly force to keep other individuals from being hurt and or murdered.”

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