Lynn police cleared in fatal shooting
Fiancee had pushed probe, has no comment on report
The Essex District Attorney says the fatal shooting of an Iraqi war veteran in September by Lynn police was justified because the man, Denis Reynoso, had grabbed an officer’s gun during a struggle and placed the gun against the policeman’s head before being shot by another officer.
| Jessica Spinney wanted state officials to launch an independent probe into the
shooting death of her fiancé,Denis Reynoso, by the Lynn police. She declined to
comment on the district attorney’s investigation.
“When Mr. Reynoso gained control of an officer’s gun and fired two rounds in close proximity to two police officers despite their attempts to get the gun away from him, he put their lives in imminent danger, thus justifying the use of lethal force by a third officer,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a press release on Tuesday. Blodgett could not be reached for comment.
Blodgett’s report, the result of a four-month investigation following the Sept. 5 shooting of Reynoso, was the subject of controversy and calls for an independent investigation after Reynoso’s fiancé, Jessica Spinney, claimed police shot Reynoso in a case of mistaken identity while he was home watching the couple’s 5-year-old son. Blodgett met with Spinney and other family members to give them a copy of the report and answer questions. A Blodgett aide said the family had no questions and Spinney yesterday declined to discuss the report.
“We have no comment on anything,” said Spinney, who had courted media members in an effort to bring attention to the shooting and her call for Gov. Deval Patrick or Attorney General Martha Coakley to launch an independent investigation.
According to Blodgett’s report, three Lynn police officers responded to reports of a shirtless man pounding his chest, swearing loudly, and threatening people on O’Callaghan Way. When the officers arrived, witnesses described the man and at least two said it was Reynoso who was acting strangely and pointed police to a nearby apartment building.
When Reynoso answered the door for two of the police officers, they determined he fit the description and began questioning him. When one of the officers went to get a third officer, Blodgett said Reynoso grabbed Officer John Bernard’s gun out of his holster. The two men began to struggle over the gun, and Bernard said he felt the gun against his head. Blodgett said Bernard grabbed the barrel of the gun and pushed it away as Reynoso pulled the trigger.
After Reynoso attempted to shoot Bernard a second time, Officer Joshua Hilton, who had been outside, came into the apartment and fired one round that hit Reynoso, who stopped fighting. Reynoso, who resisted medical assistance, was taken to Lynn Union Hospital.
Police discovered Reynoso’s son on the couch with a blanket pulled over his head, crying and screaming. Spinney had said the child was splattered with her father’s blood but the report does not make mention of that. The report also doesn’t say whether the child was interviewed.
A search of the apartment turned up a bag of marijuana. A toxicology report says Reynoso had marijuana in his system. Blodgett’s report also says Reynoso had been diagnosed by the Veterans Administration in 2012 as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome but ceased his treatment and medication almost immediately after the diagnosis.The report also says no gunshot residue was found on Reynoso during the autopsy but speculated it may have been scrubbed during surgery or dissipated in the four hours between the shots being fired and the autopsy. The report also says three samples of DNA were found on Bernard’s gun but the source of the samples could not be identified.
The investigation also found that Bernard’s holster, which is designed as a safety holder, was in disrepair, leading to Reynoso being able to grab the weapon.