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In Easton, neighbors grapple with police shooting of 56-year-old woman

Police responding to a well-being check fatally shot a woman at 32 Spooner St. in Easton on Sunday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

EASTON — Days after a police officer shot and killed a woman in a confrontation at her home while checking on her welfare, residents in this quiet suburb remain shaken by her death and conflicted over whether it could have been avoided.

On Sunday morning, police went to the home of Marianne Griffiths, 56, at the request of her son, who said she had injected herself with a dangerous amount of insulin in an attempt to end her life, authorities said.

But what began as a well-being check quickly intensified into a tense standoff that lasted hours, as throngs of heavily armed officers from across the area converged on the residential side street, a few blocks away from the town’s police station, neighbors said.


Officers had a brief discussion with Griffiths when they arrived around 11:30 a.m., but she ran downstairs and threatened to shoot the police and herself, Thomas M. Quinn III, the Bristol district attorney, said in a statement. After officers evacuated other family members and left the home, Griffiths ran back upstairs, approached the front entryway, and pointed what appeared to be a rifle at the officers outside the home. An Easton officer then fired one shot before retreating to cover.

Griffiths was struck once in the chest and died. When police went back inside, they saw that the weapon Griffiths was holding was a pump-action BB gun.

Authorities said Griffiths suffered from longstanding mental health issues and suicidal ideation. The officer who shot her was placed on paid administrative leave while the district attorney’s office investigates the shooting.

At the time, many residents were at home and watched incident unfold through windows, including Marci Slovin, who was with her 14-year-old son.

At one point, Slovin took photos of a Rook, a tracked vehicle resembling a small bulldozer and equipped with a long arm, that she said police used to gain entry into the house.


“This is tragic all around,” said Slovin, who lives across the street on Spooner Street. “It’s very hard. ... I’m still trying to process it.”

Negotiators made several attempts to speak with Griffiths by phone after the officer fired, Easton Police Chief Keith Boone said in a statement. Eventually, a regional SWAT team entered the home and found her dead, he said.

Officials have not said precisely when Griffiths was shot or when police found her dead.

Boone and Gregg Miliote, a spokesperson for the Bristol district attorney’s office, have declined to comment on the fatal shooting, citing the ongoing investigation.

Easton police last responded to a call involving 32 Spooner St. in September, when a Braintree man reported that his mother had threatened to kill herself, according to a police log entry.

The man told police she had “access to many meds” she could potentially overdose on, the entry said, which the Globe obtained through a public records request.

“She stated she was going to kill herself and it would be the last time he saw her,” he told police, the entry said.

Officers who responded to the house said that several people staying at the home said the man had been angry with his mother and that calling the police “might have been a form of retaliation,” the report said.

At 32 Spooner St., a gray house with red shutters, chickens could be seen poking around.


Heavy vehicle tracks were visible in the yard, and the front door frame was twisted and bent. A man who came to the door declined to comment to a reporter.

Cecilia Cardoza, 92, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1952, said she could remember nothing like Sunday’s incident.

While she didn’t know Griffiths, she knows members of her family and extended her sympathies to them.

“I feel terrible; they are a lovely family,” Cardoza said.

Christine Williams, 50, who lives on nearby Sheridan Street, offered her condolences to the family and police.

“It’s tragic; it’s unfortunate. It’s a sad situation,” she said.

Several residents who spoke declined to give their names, including one man who denounced the police response as “overkill.”

His wife acknowledged that police faced an unknown and potentially volatile situation. But she questioned the amount of force used. By her count, the response drew at least 35 police cruisers to her street.

“We do think it was a bit of an overkill kind of thing,” she said. “I’m still concerned about that shot.”

Slovin, whose family has lived in Easton 15 years, compared what happened Sunday to a movie scene.

Slovin is supportive of the police who were involved and said that her thoughts have also been with Griffiths and her family.

But the experience remains troubling, she said.

“It’s definitely hard to see it play out. There is a reality of seeing it happening in front of your house, and then watching it on TV,” Slovin said. “It’s just very unsettling.”


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.