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Town, Officers Claim Protection From Liability in Shooting Death



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Concord — The town of Haverhill 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, N.H., sued in February, alleging the Haverhill 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, N.H., 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 on Friday, saying they are protected from liability for wrongful death under several state laws on civil immunity, physical force in law enforcements 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 it 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.