A Lynn police detective acted in self-defense when he fired one shot at the driver of a Ford Escape, fatally wounding the Roxbury man who was the target of a drug investigation, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett ruled Wednesday.
Rafael Suazo,23, died during the confrontation with Detective Stephen Emery on Jefferson Street on July 13.
Emery, in plainclothes, was investigating Suazo as a heroin dealer in a neighborhood where residents often complain about drug dealing, Blodgett said.
Blodgett said Suazo pulled his car over and Emery pulled over and parked 30 feet ahead of him. Emery got out of his car, displayed his badge, and shouted, “Police!’’
Suazo, according to Blodgett, stepped on the accelerator of the Ford Escape and struck Emery with the Ford while Emery shouted at him, “Don’t!’’ As he was being hit by the car, Emery pulled his service weapon and fired one shot into the driver’s side windshield, hitting Suazo in the head.
“The investigation found that Mr. Suazo purposefully accelerated his Ford, drove straight at and struck Detective Stephen Emery,” Blodgett said. “Detective Emery reasonably believed that he was in danger of serious injury or death and, therefore, bears no criminal responsibility for shooting Mr. Suazo in defense of himself.”
Emery was working undercover that morning when he saw a black Mercedes Benz idling on the Grant Street, which according to Blodgett has in the past been, “the site of many drug arrests and neighbor complaints.”
As Emery observed the Mercedes circle the area, he called Detective Michael Ferraro for back-up because he believed the two people inside were waiting to meet with a drug dealer, the prosecutor said.
According to Blodgett, Suazo’s car approached the Mercedes and flashed its lights. The two cars stopped on Rock Avenue. Emery watched Suazo and the other driver have “an exchange of items’’ before driving off in two different directions, Blodgett said.
The two detectives split up, with Emery following Suazo’s car and Ferraro following the Mercedes.
Sharona Landy, 32, and Vinchenzo Pintone, 33, both of Peabody were in the Mercedes and were arrested by Ferraro. They admitted they had bought heroin from Suazo for $120, according to Blodgett.
Emery followed Suazo onto nearby Jefferson Street where the fatal encounter occurred.
Emery was taken to North Shore Medical Center Salem Hospital with arm and leg injuries, treated, and released.
Suazo was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and died later that night. Suazo was the father of two boys, relatives said earlier this year.Sarah Roberts can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @heysarahroberts