When three officers from the Boston Police gang unit saw Darryl Dookhran walking down Geneva Avenue on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2013, one of them recognized him from a recent intelligence report that said the 20-year-old with the lengthy criminal record may be carrying a gun.
So they pulled up next to Dookhran and his friend Christopher Murrain and asked to talk, according to the officers, Murrain, and witnesses nearby — but Dookhran said nothing, turned, and fled toward Westville Street.
As Officer Ryan Lenane and Sergeant Thomas Teahan chased him, video shows Dookhran turning back and raising a gun in his right hand. Lenane told investigators later that he heard a gunshot and felt something hit his left arm.
Two other cameras capture the men seconds later: Teahan and then Lenane round the corner behind Dookhran, who again twists to raise his gun. Dookhran shot again, according to police documents, and both officers shot back, hitting Dookhran in the head and the arm, and killing him.
On Tuesday, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley concluded that Lenane and Teahan acted to defend themselves and others when they shot Dookhran.
The injured officer survived.
Officials said they had been investigating two individuals known to police near Geneva Avenue and Westville Street at about 1 p.m. when one of the suspects turned and pushed an officer.
BOSTON, Jan. 20, 2015—The Boston Police officers who returned fire against the man who had just shot one of them will not face criminal charges in connection with the man’s death, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley determined today.
Conley today met with the family of DARRYL DOOKHRAN (D.O.B. 1/17/93) to detail his findings that the two officers acted in self-defense and defense of others when they shot Dookhran, killing him, after Dookhran initiated a gunfight and shot one of them in the area of Geneva Avenue and Westville Street on Dec. 7, 2013. The determination came after an exhaustive and independent review of surveillance imagery from the area, tape-recorded statements of the officers involved and six civilian witnesses, reports on field interviews with more than 100 additional civilians, medical records, ballistics testing, and other evidence that will be made available to Dookhran’s family and any media who wish to inspect it. The meeting was initially scheduled for late last year but was rescheduled for today at the family’s request.
Also today, Conley will join community leaders and stakeholders including clergy members, youth service providers, street workers, civil liberties advocates, and others to explain the facts of the incident, the legal principles at issue, the process of investigating police-involved fatalities in Boston and Suffolk County, and the unparalleled policy of transparency the DA adopted in such cases more than a decade ago.
Conley also notified Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans of his decision in a four-page letter detailing the results of his investigation and his legal analysis. Conley’s office investigated the incident under Ch. 38, Sect. 4, of the Massachusetts General Laws, which establishes that, in “cases of unnatural or suspicious death,” including police-involved deaths, “the district attorney or his law enforcement representative shall direct and control the investigation of the death and shall coordinate the investigation with the office of the chief medical examiner and the police department within whose jurisdiction the death occurred.” The letter is online at http://www.suffolkdistrictattorney.com/das-letter-on-the-dec-7-2013-police-involved-shooting-of-darryl-dookhran/.
“The investigation revealed that Boston Police Officer Ryan Lenane and Sergeant Thomas Teahan … fired on Mr. Dookhran only after he shot Officer Lenane in the left arm,” Conley wrote. “Mr. Dookhran then engaged Sergeant Teahan and Officers Lenane and William Traft (who did not fire his weapon) in an exchange of gunfire in a thickly-settled residential and commercial neighborhood. Under the circumstances, Sergeant Teahan and Officer Lenane acted reasonably and lawfully when they discharged their service weapons. Therefore, based on a thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Dookhran’s death, I conclude that there is no evidence of criminal conduct by the officers involved.”
More specifically, the investigation showed that Lenane, Teahan, and Traft had been assigned to search for a firearm that Boston Police believed had been discarded in the area after a shooting the night before. While en route to their Ridgewood Street destination in an unmarked cruiser, Traft spotted Dookhran and another man walking on Geneva Avenue, and recognized him from a recent bulletin from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center indicating that he was affiliated with a gang based on Favre Street and was believed to carry a firearm.
In light of the bulletin and their familiarity with Dookhran, the officers pulled up to speak with him. Lenane first addressed Dookhran through the open window of the cruiser, asking if the officers could speak with him. Dookhran did not respond. When Lenane and Teahan opened their doors, Dookhran immediately began to run up Geneva Avenue. Lenane and Teahan gave chase on foot. Traft, who had remained in the cruiser to use its mobile data terminal, exited the cruiser to join them. All of their service weapons were holstered.
The man who had been walking with Dookhran – later identified as CHRISTOPHER MURRAIN (D.O.B. 7/9/87) – stepped into Lenane’s path and shoulder-checked him to block him from pursuit. Murrain later pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a police officer in Dorchester Municipal Court and received a two-year house of correction sentence with six months deemed served and the balance suspended for two years.
As Dookhran ran, the evidence showed, he turned and fired a .380 caliber Ruger LCP semiautomatic handgun at the officers, hitting Lenane in the left arm. He turned right onto Westville Street and continued running with the three officers in pursuit and returning fire with their service weapons, which they had now removed from their holsters.
Dookhran turned and fired again at the officers, this time missing them. Lenane and Teahan also fired. Dookhran was struck in the left upper arm and head. The officers immediately called for an ambulance. Paramedics pronounced Dookhran dead at the scene. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the fatal injury was a gunshot wound to the head that travelled generally upward from the front right to back left. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also recovered a bag containing five .380 caliber rounds from Dookhran’s clothing.
“The facts establish that Officers Lenane and Traft and Sergeant Teahan, in the lawful discharge of their duties, found themselves confronted by an armed gunman who had shot Officer Lenane without provocation and continued to fire as he fled down a thickly settled residential street,” Conley wrote to Evans. “Fearing that Mr. Dookhran would continue to fire at the officers – and possibly hit an innocent bystander – Officer Lenane and Sergeant Teahan fired at him. The officers’ decisions to open fire under these circumstances constitute a lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and the defense of others.”
The 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Connor explained that “the calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments – in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving – about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” But Suffolk prosecutors noted that the right to self-defense is not limited to law enforcement officials: they have declined to charge five homicides in the past eight years because the civilians involved used lethal force reasonably and lawfully to protect themselves against the threat of death or serious bodily injury.
As with all police-involved fatalities, Conley announced that he would make a copy of prosecutors’ complete investigative file available to the Dookhran family and open it to scrutiny by any Boston media outlet that wishes to inspect it, a voluntary policy he put in place more than 10 years ago to ensure complete transparency in the investigation of police-involved fatalities.