A 19-year-old New Bedford man was shot and killed by a Fall River police officer late Sunday night, a shooting that took place as the victim allegedly tried to drive away from police who had been called to investigate a “smoking” car and reports of gunshots.
The man killed by police was identified as Larry Ruiz-Barreto by Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III’s office. Quinn’s office is investigating the use of deadly force by the officer, whose name was not released by authorities.
According to Quinn’s office and a separate statement by Fall River police, officers were dispatched to the intersection of Airport and Riggenbach roads around 11:45 p.m. Sunday after a 911 caller reported hearing “two loud bangs” they feared were gunshots along with a “green hatchback with stickers all over it smoking.”
Arriving officers spotted “a number of vehicles leaving the area,” and the first officer on the scene tried to stop one of the vehicles from driving away, according to Quinn’s office. “During this encounter, the police officer fired shots into the vehicle, striking the operator,’’ Quinn’s office said in the statement.
Ruiz-Barreto was rushed by Fall River firefighters, who operate the ambulance service in the city, to Charlton Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. According to Fall River police, two hours after the shooting, a disturbance broke out in the hospital emergency room that led to the arrest of five people for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
The five people were scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Fall River District Court.
“We did have a shooting, and the incident at Charlton is related,” said Detective John Robinson, a department spokesman.
Police and Quinn’s office did not provide information about what Ruiz-Barreto and the other people were doing in the area, which is an industrial area with a number of small manufacturing firms, according to city assessing records.
Officials also did not say why police wanted to stop the vehicles they encountered on their arrival.
The shooting is under investigation by Quinn’s office, while police are conducting a parallel internal affairs investigation, according to officials.
According to a recording of Fall River police dispatches on Broadcastify.com, a department dispatcher, her voice calm, called on officers to head to the intersection of Airport and Riggenbach roads shortly before midnight.
“If you could head to Airport Road and Riggenbach,’’ the dispatcher told the officers. The caller “states that there is a car smoking and they heard two loud bangs. Sounded like gunshots. They don’t know if people were fighting. There were a lot of cars in the area. Wait for backup.”
The officers acknowledged the assignment. About 10 minutes later, a male police officer contacted police dispatch.
“Shots fired!’’ the officer said, his voice tinged with tension. “Shots fired!”
“364 to all available units. Head to Airport and Riggenbach,” the dispatcher responded. “364 to any and all available units, head to Riggenbach. Shots fired.”
About two minutes later, a male officer provided the dispatcher with an update, according to a recording of the police transmissions from Broadcastify.com.
“One male down,’’ the officer said. “Get an ambulance right away. Airport and Riggenbach.”
The dispatcher acknowledged the information and the request for an ambulance.
About two minutes later, a male officer contacted the dispatcher, a sense of urgency in his voice.
“Tell them to step on it,’’ the officer told dispatch.