Police officer was justified in shooting unarmed, naked man, 37, who was charging toward him before being killed, New Hampshire Attorney General says
- Thornton Police Department Officer Matthew Yao acted within the law when he fatally shot 37-year-old Ethan Freeman
- The owner of Freeman’s apartment called 911 while Freeman was bleeding and claiming to feel chest pain
- Yao encountered a naked, bloody and irrational Freeman holding a broken piece of furniture in the apartment while treatening to kill the officer
- Officials say the body camera footage agreed with Yao’s version of the encounter and was critical in the case ruling
A police officer in New Hampshire who shot and killed a naked, bloody man who was charging toward him was justified in doing so, the state Attorney General’s office said.
Thornton Police Department Officer Matthew Yao acted within the law when he fatally shot 37-year-old Ethan Freeman in October 2020, Deputy New Hampshire Attorney General Jane E. Young said in a report detailing the decision.
Freeman had threatened to kill Yao, the AG’s office said. ‘Moreover, Mr. Freeman had both the opportunity and ability to carry out those death threats,’ it said.
The altercation was caught on the body camera Yao wore.
The report said Yao arrived to an apartment in response to a 911 report of a man injuring himself. The call was made by the owner of the property, who said Freeman was bleeding and claiming to feel chest pain and requested an ambulance.
Inside the apartment, Yao encountered a naked, bloody and irrational Freeman holding a broken piece of furniture, authorities said.
A body camera worn by Thornton, New Hampshire, police Officer Matthew Yao captured video of the fatal shooting of Ethan Freeman in October 2020
Freeman, who was bloody and naked, threatened to kill Yao before advancing on the officer outside an apartment
A report filed by investigators said Yao ‘fired two shots in quick succession’ before Freeman ‘collapsed to the ground, and died from his gunshot wounds’
Video from Yao’s body camera shows Freeman threatening to kill Yao before jumping out of a window and advancing on the officer.
Freeman was unarmed and was believed to be suffering from mental health issues.
‘When Mr. Freeman was about ten feet away, and still advancing on Officer Yao, the officer fired two shots in quick succession,’ the report said. ‘Mr. Freeman collapsed to the ground, and died from his gunshot wounds.’
At a briefing on Tuesday, officials showed video from the body camera worn by Yao that captured three interactions with Freeman that day, including the fatal encounter, WMUR reported.
Officer Matthew Yao of the Thornton, New Hampshire, police was cleared in the October 2020 fatal shooting of 37-year-old Ethan Freeman
Deputy Attorney General Jane E. Young issued a report Tuesday detailing the decision that Thornton Police Officer Matthew Yao acted within the law when he fatally shot Freeman
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinkley was one of the officials who announced Tuesday that Yao was justified in using deadly force against Freeman
The footage was critical in the case because they were able to match what the officer said to investigators with what was seen on the video, officials said.
‘All of the other evidence gathered from the investigation supports the conclusion that Officer Yao did reasonably believe that he faced the imminent use of deadly physical force from Mr. Freeman at the time that the officer fired his pistol,’ Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinkley said.
Yao said he did not have time to holster his weapon and switch to a nonlethal form of defense. Investigators said Yao had seconds to react and his action was legal.
‘Officer Yao believed that when Mr. Freeman, who he heard had threatened his life, ultimately reached him, he would attempt to take his gun and shoot him,’ Hinckley said.
Body camera footage showed interactions earlier in the day between the officer and Freeman, who was believed to be suffering from mental health issues
Video showed Yao encountered Freeman twice during the day prior to the fatal shooting. Freeman was unarmed at the time of his death at his apartment