The 44-year-old man shot and killed by a State Police trooper near Boston University on Friday afternoon after allegedly brandishing a folding knife at the officer had been in an armed confrontation with Boston police six years ago that ended with a starkly different result.
Santos Laboy was armed with a 3-foot samurai sword in February 2009 in Mission Hill and was saying that he planned to kill people when Boston police officers were summoned to subdue him, according to attorney Michael Roitman, who represented him in the criminal case that ensued.
For about 15 to 30 minutes, Boston police kept watch on Laboy as he smashed cars and police cruisers and begged officers to shoot him, Roitman said. When Laboy rushed at officers, Roitman said, police retreated.
Police held him at bay while they waited for an officer to arrive with a shotgun that fires
beanbag-like projectiles, he said. Once the officer arrived, Laboy was subdued after being struck by one round, Roitman said.
“They sort of surrounded him so he wasn’t going anywhere,” Roitman said in a telephone interview. “They certainly had their guns drawn. I think they were very concerned, but they did not shoot him.”
A Boston police spokesman declined Saturday to comment on the encounter, but provided a police report detailing how officers took cover behind their cruisers as they trained their weapons on Laboy, who yelled “Shoot me! Right in the head!”
After Laboy struck one cruiser, the report said officers retreated “backwards in an effort to create more distance from the threat.”
Laboy faced 10 charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon and malicious destruction of property over $250. He was convicted on five counts and acquitted of the rest in a 2010 trial, court records show. A judge sentenced Laboy to five years in prison followed by five years of probation.
“I thought they did a very professional job in subduing a guy that was pretty out of control . . .” Roitman said. “He would rush at them and rush at a police car and they would back off a little bit. Enough that they thought it safe.”
Laboy was shot and killed by the trooper around 2 p.m. Friday on a footbridge over Storrow Drive near Boston University after he allegedly refused to drop a knife and made “threatening gestures,” police said. It was a folding knife with a locking blade, said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
The confrontation began when BU police officers on the Esplanade spotted a man who matched the description of a suspect with outstanding warrants out of the Roxbury division of the Boston Municipal Court, State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said Friday.
On Saturday morning, Laboy’s sisters, Olga and Rosa Santiago, questioned why lethal force had been used, saying law enforcement was generally aware of Laboy’s record of mental illness and suicidal tendencies. They spoke outside their mother’s apartment building in Mission Hill, near the site of Laboy’s 2009 confrontation with Boston police.
“They knew he was suicidal. They knew it,” Olga Santiago, 52, of Jamaica Plain said Saturday. “They didn’t have to shoot him like the way they killed him: like a . . . dog.”
The sisters said Laboy is the second member of their family to be killed by police. They said their cousin, Nelson Santiago, 39, was fatally shot by Boston police officers in 2002.
An investigation by Conley’s office found officers were justified in using deadly force when they shot and killed Nelson Santiago as he menaced police in a stolen car on a dead-end Dorchester street, according to a 2003 Globe report.
Speaking of the encounter that killed her brother, Rosa Santiago, 51, claimed Laboy was shot four times.
“He needed help. He didn’t need to be dead,” she said. “Our question is, you shoot somebody one time with a small knife? Why do you have to shoot him three more times? That’s murder to us.”
Conley’s office is investigating whether the use of lethal force was justified. Wark, his spokesman, said the trooper fired “multiple times” at Laboy after repeatedly asking him to drop his weapon. Laboy was struck in the chest, he said.
Alben, the State Police’s top official, said Laboy was wanted on warrants charging him with harassment and annoying a person of the opposite sex. Police and prosecutors declined Saturday to discuss the specifics of the allegations.
But the general manager of Laundry Basket on Beacon Street said police told her Saturday that Laboy was the man investigators believed was slipping lewd photographs under the door during the night shift.
Angela Melanson said last week police caught the suspect on camera in the act. She said a man later called the business and told employees they “made a deal with the devil” and that he planned to “get them.”
Three people quit their jobs at Laundry Basket as a result of the harassment, Melanson said. “We just thought he was a creep that got off on it,” she said.
Olga Santiago said she was not aware Laboy might have been circulating lewd photographs.
Laboy’s sisters said he was released from prison for the sword attack about 1½ years ago and then lived briefly in Somerville with Rosa Santiago. More recently, he had been living on the streets and in homeless shelters, his family said.
His probation was being handled by Middlesex Superior Court officials, though a warrant was issued for Laboy’s arrest on June 20, 2014, after he failed to show up for court, records show.
Laboy’s sisters said they knew their brother was not complying with the terms of his probation. They said he was working under the table and going to the Esplanade daily to exercise.
The sisters learned Laboy had been shot after watching news reports and seeing a gym bag on the footbridge that their brother carried everywhere.
Prior to going to prison for the sword attack, Olga Santiago said her brother was locked up for his role in a shooting that left another man paralyzed. She said Laboy attacked him after being robbed.
His sisters said Laboy showed signs of mental illness going back to a young age, but he never received treatment. They said Laboy later refused offers of help or medication and remained angry.