Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has determined that Brockton police were justified in fatally shooting a 45-year-old man last year who pointed “realistic looking” BB guns at officers and threatened to kill them, according to a report released Thursday.
The report from Special Assistant Attorney General John Verner said Douglas M. Buckley emerged from behind his house on Thayer Street shortly before 1 a.m. on July 2, 2015 and pointed a “realistic looking rifle-and handgun-style BB gun” at police.
“Mr. Buckley, who had just threatened to burn his house down and was intoxicated and potentially suicidal, told the officers that he was going to kill them,” Verner wrote. “The officers repeatedly instructed Mr. Buckley to drop the weapons and, when he did not comply, Officers [Richard] Sturdevant and [John] Gaucher discharged their weapons because they feared for their safety, the safety of each other and the safety of others in the area.”
Verner noted that Buckley’s wife, Barbara, had informed police that he had BB guns in the home and that she was unsure if he could access lethal firearms.
“The fact that Mrs. Buckley informed the police that Mr. Buckley possessed BB guns and may have informed them that ‘all he had’ were BB guns does not change the decision not to charge the officers with a crime relating to Mr. Buckley’s death,” Verner wrote. “As the officers approached the home, they had no way of knowing if Mrs. Buckley was correct in her professed knowledge that Mr. Buckley possessed BB guns and only BB guns.”
Buckley, who had been drinking that night after two years of sobriety and who previously spent time in a psychiatric ward at Brockton Hospital, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the torso, according to the report.
Officers began rendering medical aid after Buckley was shot and noticed that he had what appeared to be a police scanner with white earbuds attached to his belt, Verner wrote. Buckley’s blood alcohol level was 0.16, or twice the legal limit for driving, and he had traces of marijuana and two anti-anxiety medications in his system at the time of his death, according to the report.
Shortly before Buckley was killed, his wife played Gaucher chilling voicemail messages that her husband left earlier in the evening in which he threatened violence and said he was lighting their home on fire. Officers detected an odor of gasoline as they exited their cruisers, Verner wrote.
In one message, the report said, Buckley told his wife, “Just so you know, I don’t care, I just want to die. So, I’m burning the house down. ... I’m starting in our room. It’s on fire now, I don’t give a [expletive], bye.”