N.H. Officer Shooting Outlined
State AG Says Police Only Fired When Woman Tried to Flee
Concord — The police chase that ended with the fatal shooting of a Canterbury woman Monday in Manchester began with a routine traffic stop, state officials have indicated.
While the shooting remains under investigation, the Attorney General’s Office Wednesday released a statement providing new details about the events that preceded it, and the cause of 45-year-old Wendy Lawrence’s death.
Officials said Lawrence was pulled over around 6:30 p.m. when a trooper witnessed her speeding and driving erratically southbound on Interstate 89 in Bow.
Lawrence gave the officer a non-driver’s identification and told him she had a valid license, the statement says, at which point the trooper returned to his cruiser, ran her record and confirmed she was a habitual offender with a suspended license. As he awaited those results, Lawrence sped off.
The trooper followed, pursuing Lawrence briefly until he had enough identifying details about her and her vehicle, a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, to make a future arrest. Minutes later, though, he spotted it again, this time stationed perpendicular to the road at the end of Interstate 89 in Bow Junction, according to the statement. Eyeing the cruiser, Lawrence took off, nearly striking a pedestrian as she sped toward the southbound on-ramp to Interstate 93 at a high speed, the statement said.
At that point, several state troopers swarmed the highway and began a renewed pursuit, following Lawrence down the interstate, off Exit 9 and finally to the intersection of Dave Street and Kennard Road.
The details from there remain unclear. According to the statement and autopsy results, a trooper opened fire on Lawrence, hitting her four times, including once fatally in the chest. Lawrence was taken to a nearby hospital and later pronounced dead.
The attorney general’s office has not identified the trooper, and said it, along with the state and Manchester police, continue to investigate the shooting.
Lawrence, a former Allenstown resident, had been arrested multiple times in recent years and charged for various crimes, including simple assault and, most recently in December, drug possession and resisting arrest.
But friends have questioned the police’s use of deadly force Monday.
Lawrence’s boyfriend, Charles Peter, described the action as “totally unnecessary.”
“I’ve been hunting all my life. I’ve never shot an animal 11 times to kill it,” he said, referring to the cluster of bullet holes in the Monte Carlo’s windshield.
Donald Brown, a neighbor who lives on the corner and was home at the time of the incident, said he too thought the action seemed excessive, noting that, despite his proximity, he never heard Lawrence’s car slam into a cruiser, as earlier reports had suggested.
“I don’t feel that was the proper way to handle the situation,” he said.
Brown said he did not see the officer open fire, but after hearing gunfire immediately looked out his window and saw three cruisers surrounding Lawrence’s car, and her inside of it.
“It looked like her hands were on the steering wheel and then they just fell,” Brown said.