Rochester, NY - Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announced on Thursday that the officer-involved shooting of Douglas Heath in August was legally justified.
Dashcam video of the gunfight has now been released (video below.)
New Hampshire MacDonald released a statement after the Aug. 20 shooting that explained Rochester police had been issued a warning about 38-year-old Heath on Aug. 15.
MacDonald said officers were told there was “credible information” that Heath was staying in the Rochester area, and that he might be in possession of three firearms.
The briefing form given to officers said that Heath was wanted for trafficking narcotics and for fleeing from the Maine State Police. It noted that “he has no intention of going to jail,” the attorney general said.
Rochester police officers spotted Heath’s car at about 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 and tried to pull him over, but he fled and led police on a chase that lasted about 15 minutes before he crashed the SUV he was driving at the intersection of Route 125 and Oak Street.
After the wreck, Heath climbed out of his vehicle on the passenger side and began shooting at officers, MacDonald said.
Officers returned fire, and Heath dropped to the ground.
“Mr. Heath left the SUV through the front passenger door and he fell to the ground. Mr. Heath held in his left hand a loaded semiautomatic pistol. Within seconds of Mr. Heath getting out of that crashed SUV, and despite commands from Officer Lambert to drop his weapon, Mr. Heath pulled back on the slide of the pistol that he held,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told reporters, according to The Union Leader.
After exiting the vehicle, Heath fired again at police and officers returned fire.
Heath was shot 15 times in the gunfight and finally shot himself in the face while rolling on the ground. Nobody important was injured in the gunfight.
“It was reasonable for each of them to believe that Mr. Heath would continue to use deadly force and continue to place the lives of the officers and the private citizens in the area in danger,” Hinckley said. “It was reasonable for the officers to use their own deadly force in order to stop Mr. Heath.”
Hinckley noted that Heath had fentanyl, amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system at the time of the shooting.
You can see the video of the shooting below: