DARTMOUTH — Luis Roman allegedly swore he would not go to jail.
After breaking into his former girlfriend’s apartment and fleeing late Thursday night, Bristol County prosecutors say, he armed himself with two guns and returned to the scene. There, his life ended in a burst of gunfire, when police shot him to death after he opened fire.
“We believe that we saved the life of his ex-girlfriend, because we believe that he came back to do her harm, and to do the police officers harm,” said Dartmouth Police Chief Timothy Lee.
Roman, 25, of New Bedford, has a long history of arrests and a two-page list of criminal charges against him at New Bedford District Court, though all the charges were either dismissed or continued without a finding. A warrant was out for his arrest, because he had failed to appear in court this summer for a hearing on 2012 charges of assault and battery and threatening to commit a crime, which had been continued without a finding, according to court documents.
The woman whose apartment he allegedly broke into Thursday, who authorities said was the mother of his child, took out a restraining order against him in 2010, after she said he attacked and threatened her, telling her to “watch [her] back,” according to court documents.
According to a statement from the office of Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, which is investigating the police use of deadly force, Roman allegedly broke into the apartment on Ledgewood Boulevard around 11 p.m.
He allegedly damaged the woman’s television and computer, then left before police arrived, prosecutors said in the statement. It was not immediately clear whether the woman was home at the time.
While officers were interviewing the woman and her parents, Roman allegedly telephoned her father and asked if police were there, prosecutors said. Told that police were present, Roman allegedly said “he was coming back to the apartment and that he had his gun out, ammunition, and said he wasn’t going back to jail,” prosecutors said in the statement.
Roman drove back to the apartment complex, where officers told him to get out of his car. He started to, then got back inside, prosecutors said. When officers approached the car, he allegedly brandished one of two guns he was carrying.
Roman fired two shots, prosecutors said. Lee said one bullet narrowly missed a police officer. An officer fired back, Lee said, striking Roman, who was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital after officers performed CPR and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Lee said the unidentified officer who fired the shot or shots has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to normal procedure, as have other officers involved in the call.
“They’re good people who underwent a traumatic event,” said Lee.
No one answered the door at an address listed to Roman and his mother.
The woman whose home Roman allegedly broke into had accused Roman of abuse in the past. In a 2010 application for a restraining order, she said Roman forced his way into her apartment and threatened her. “He pushed me, choked me, and spit in my face multiple times,” she wrote. “After doing so, he stole my computer out of my apartment, making more threats if I tried to stop him.”
He had physically and verbally abused her in the past, she said, but that incident was the first time he did so in front of their son. The restraining order indicates she got custody of the boy. She wrote that Roman contacted her several days later and told her to “watch [her] back.”
According to Dartmouth Police Detective Kyle Costa, the department spokesman, the woman called for their assistance in February 2013 after Roman showed up at her home. Officers responded, but by the time they got there, Roman had left, Costa said.
Roman was well known to police. Most recently, in 2012, he was charged with assault and battery and threatening to commit a crime for allegedly pushing and spitting at a different woman. Those charges were continued without a finding, but Roman did not show up to court on his final court date in June, records show.
Three other cases, including charges for drug possession and distribution, as well as disorderly conduct, were also continued without a finding. A long list of charges dating back to 2007 and including assault, assault and battery, breaking and entering, and more drug charges, were all brought against Roman and ultimately dismissed, according to court documents.
The investigation into the shooting Thursday is in its preliminary stage, Sutter’s office said, and once the full inquiry is done, prosecutors will release “complete findings.”