Protests clash in Newton after police shot, killed man with knife

Protests clash in Newton after police shot, killed man with knife

Newton, Mass. — Two opposing protests clashed outside the Newton police department Wednesday after Newton Police shot and killed a man armed with a knife Tuesday.

Protesters with ‘Defund the Newton Police Department’ said the man suffered from a mental illness.

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“How can we expect someone already in the middle of a crisis to stay calm and comply with police who are hurting him?” said a protester.

The group released a statement expressing their outrage.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Outrage at the Killing of Our Newton Neighbor at the Hands of the Police. Read our full statement...

Posted by Defund NPD on Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Police say 28-year-old Michael Conlon came at them with a knife and the Middlesex County District Attorney says officers used non-lethal force, including a taster, before firing shots.

Officers were first called to the scene for what appeared to be an attempted armed robbery at Indulge! candy shop, but the owner of the shop says the man tried to get her to go upstairs with him.

A counter-protest came out to show support for the police after this shooting.

“All indications are that everybody acted appropriately and it’s unfortunate that someone died,” said Nick Pasquarosa, who joined the “Support Our Police” rally. “But I don’t think there should be any overreaction by people to defund the police, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“We take a neutral position, our job is to protect the rights of everybody that wants to protest,” said Lt. Bruce Apotheker with the Newton Police Department.

Newton police had to create barriers between the opposing protests to maintain order for a few hours.

“We’re here to rally today primarily to mourn and commemorate the loss of our neighbor, our community member at the hands of police,” said Nora Lester Murad, one of the organizers with “Defund the Newton Police Department.”

This group says funding should be reallocated from the police department to mental health services to prevent a deadly shooting like this one from happening again.

“We could move 911 services out of the police department and expand the network of professionals who are considered first responders,” said Lester Murad. “Which would mean that the mental health crisis would be primarily dealt with and addressed by mental health experts.”

The DA says a mental health clinician did respond with officers to the scene before the shooting, but that clinician did not go inside the building because of safety concerns since the suspect was armed with a knife.

The officers involved in this deadly shooting are on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.