A Boston police officer feared for his life when he fatally shot a man who pointed a loaded gun at him in the South End in August 2012, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said Monday.
The district attorney’s office, which conducted a standard investigation into the shooting of Burrell Ramsey-White, 26, of Dorchester, said that Ramsey-White refused orders from Officer Mathew Pieroway to drop his weapon and pointed the gun at Pieroway’s head.
The officer shot Ramsey-White once in the torso, as the suspect stood on a staircase next to 5 Yarmouth Place on Aug. 21, 2012, prosecutors said.
“A thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Mr. [Ramsey-White] has revealed that Officer Pieroway fired justifiably in self-defense,” Conley wrote in a letter to interim Police Commissioner William Evans.
Ramsey-White’s family could not be reached for comment.
Their lawyer, Frances King, said she and her investigators will examine the evidence gathered during the inquiry before deciding whether to pursue litigation. She said Conley met with her and members of Ramsey-White’s family Monday.
“I think you can appreciate their pain and suffering,” King said. “They’re very distraught. It’s not directed at anyone in particular, because we just don’t have all the facts.”
According to Conley’s letter, Pieroway and Officer Joel Resil were working in plainclothes in an unmarked vehicle when they pulled over a Cadillac DeVille that Ramsey-White was driving in Rutland Square near Columbus Avenue.
A state database showed that the Cadillac was registered to another man who had an active arrest warrant for a probation violation stemming from a felony assault case, Conley wrote. Ramsey-White provided his license to Pieroway, but reached behind the center console and sped away moments later, nearly striking Pieroway with the vehicle, said the district attorney.
Ramsey-White jumped out of the moving car on Harcourt Street as it approached the Southwest Corridor. Pieroway chased him on foot to the staircase, where the suspect allegedly brandished his weapon and ignored orders to drop it.
Pieroway, who had repeatedly identified himself as a police officer during the pursuit, fired once from the bottom of the stairs after telling Ramsey-White to drop the gun, Conley wrote. Pieroway then told Ramsey-White again to drop his weapon and shouted, “Don’t make me shoot you again,” according to Conley’s letter.
Ramsey-White fell forward and lost his grip on the gun, which landed in an adjacent dumpster, Conley wrote. After being shot, he was taken to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Conley’s office said the findings released Monday followed a review of more than 1,000 pages of evidence, including witness statements and surveillance images.
It remained unclear Monday why Ramsey-White was driving a car that belonged to the other man with the active arrest warrant.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for Conley, said in an e-mail that officials think the two were associates, but the other man did not cooperate with investigators who asked about their relationship.