When three officers from the Boston Police gang unit saw Darryl Dookhran walking down Geneva Avenue on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2013, one of them recognized him from a recent intelligence report that said the 20-year-old with the lengthy criminal record may be carrying a gun.
So they pulled up next to Dookhran and his friend Christopher Murrain and asked to talk, according to the officers, Murrain, and witnesses nearby — but Dookhran said nothing, turned, and fled toward Westville Street.
As Officer Ryan Lenane and Sergeant Thomas Teahan chased him, video shows Dookhran turning back and raising a gun in his right hand. Lenane told investigators later that he heard a gunshot and felt something hit his left arm.
Two other cameras capture the men seconds later: Teahan and then Lenane round the corner behind Dookhran, who again twists to raise his gun. Dookhran shot again, according to police documents, and both officers shot back, hitting Dookhran in the head and the arm, and killing him.
On Tuesday, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley concluded that Lenane and Teahan acted to defend themselves and others when they shot Dookhran.
“Based on a thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Dookhran’s death, I conclude that there is no evidence of criminal conduct by the officers involved,” Conley wrote in a letter to Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans.
In the moments after the shootout, Murrain’s girlfriend told police she got a call from Murrain, who said Dookhran, whom he called “Slice,” had “wilded out.”
“Baby come down Geneva,” he told her, she said. “Slice did some [expletive], he’s dead, and I’m about to get locked up.”
Dookhran’s family declined to comment on Conley’s announcement Tuesday, directing questions to their lawyer, Howard Friedman.
“Today’s a very upsetting day,” Friedman said. “It’s upsetting whether it’s justified or unjustified.”
Conley’s office voluntarily released to the family and the media the entire prosecutors’ investigative file, including the Firearm Discharge Investigation Team’s final report, autopsy findings, witness interviews, videos of the shooting, and photographs of the scene. Friedman said he and the family are still reading through the documents and are not ready to comment on the substance of the finding that the shooting was justified.
“The police had a year to come up with their conclusions,” Friedman said. “To require [the family] to come up with their view of the conclusions within an hour doesn’t seem fair.”
Friedman said the family is upset that they had to wait so long for information that the police had very soon after the shooting. “They were desperate for information,” he said. “It’s hard to understand why it should take so long.”
Dookhran had a lengthy criminal record for gang-related violence and at the time he was shot had recently completed a prison sentence for bringing a high-velocity semiautomatic weapon into a community college classroom.
His record included multiple gun charges, and as a juvenile, he was kicked out of two high schools for violent gang-related attacks, including stabbing a rival gang member.
A police intelligence report dated Nov. 22, 2013, which was included in the documents released Tuesday, showed that officers were advised to look out for Dookhran, who was believed to have a gun, and whose gang had an “active feud” with another group. “These groups have been very active in firearm violence over the past month,” the report stated.
Murrain told police that he and Dookhran were walking to a computer store when the officers pulled up and asked to talk. Murrain said he stopped, but his friend “took off” without saying anything. Murrain said he then heard gunshots. He denied knowing his friend’s name, and said he never made a phone call after the shooting.
Murrain later pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a police officer for shoulder-checking Lenane as Lenane tried to run after Dookhran, according to Conley’s office.
One witness said he saw police try to talk “to two guys stopped on the sidewalk,” and that when one of the officers placed his hand on the sleeve of one of the men, the man started to run and began shooting. The witness said he was not sure who shot first.
Citing surveillance video, ballistic and other forensic evidence, as well as the accounts of witnesses and officers, Conley concluded that police opened fire only after Dookhran shot first, wounding Lenane in the left arm. Then, Conley wrote, “in an exchange of gunfire in a thickly-settled residential and commercial neighborhood,” Dookhran fired at Teahan, Lenane, and another officer who was present but did not return fire.
Conley concluded that “under the circumstances, Sergeant Teahan and Officer Lenane acted reasonably and lawfully when they discharged their service weapons.’’
The ruling shooting comes amid a national debate about policing sparked by the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
On Tuesday, Conley met with community leaders to explain the facts of the case, his legal analysis, and his determination that the shooting was justified. The meeting was private, but City Councilor Timothy McCarthy said Conley and his team spent more than an hour discussing the case. McCarthy lauded Conley’s transparency and thoroughness.
“It’s pretty clear from the film that there were shots fired, there was an officer hit,” McCarthy said. “For the safety of the officers and, clearly, the safety of the people in and around the stores . . . I have to agree with the district attorney.”