Middlesex County

Family of victim in deadly Newton police shooting file lawsuit against city and police officers

NEWTON, Mass. — 25 Investigates has learned the City of Newton and several of its police officers are facing a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with the shooting of Michael Conlon. The lawsuit was filed late Thursday afternoon, on the 2-year anniversary of Conlon’s death.

According to a court investigation of the incident, the 28-year-old Conlon, who suffered from long-term mental illness, walked into the Indulge! candy store in Newton Highlands on January 5th, 2021, carrying a kitchen steak knife. The store was located under the apartment where Conlon lived. The clerk called 911. According to testimony, Newton Police responding to the scene followed Conlon into the apartment hallway above the store.

According to an inquest released by the Middlesex District Attorney’s office last year, officers convinced Conlon to drop the knife at one point, but after a failed deployment of a non-lethal bean bag rifle, he picked the knife back up and charged at officers. They fired their weapons, killing him.

The inquest found no criminal responsibility by the police, stating “at that moment, no reasonable alternative existed, except for the use of deadly force.”

The lawsuit claims officers failed to follow de-escalation protocols that could have prevented the need for deadly force.

The lawsuit also includes 12 counts ranging from wrongful death and excessive force, to American with Disability Act violations and violations of Conlon’s 14th amendment rights.

The City of Newton has responded with the following statement:

“Today marks the two-year anniversary of when tragedy struck the City of Newton. That tragic incident left behind a grieving family, poignantly distraught police officers, and a disquieted Police Department and community.

The family of Michael Conlon, the man killed in the officer-involved shooting that day, has initiated a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Newton and the officers involved. This lawsuit comes after a fair, impartial and transparent inquest presided over by the Honorable District Court Judge Jeanmarie Carroll.

Having reviewed the evidence, facts and circumstances of what happened on January 5, 2021, Judge Carroll found that when Newton Police Officers fired their weapons, any reasonable law enforcement officer in the same position would reasonably believe that fellow officers as well as others were in imminent danger of being seriously injured or killed. The Judge wrote, “At that moment no reasonable alternative existed, except for the use of deadly force.”

As part of the ongoing healing process, it is important to understand that critical life or death situations such as this occur in a split second. Lethal force decisions are what every police officer prays they will never be forced to make and trains to avoid. The primary officers that were on scene that day were and are fine members of the department - professional and compassionate.

As the Mayor of Newton and as the Chief of the Newton Police Department, we know the death of anyone in such circumstances is tragic, and there is a lot of healing that must take place for all of those impacted by this incident. Our hearts go out to the Conlon family as well as to our officers and their families.”

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