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An agonizing year of waiting for answers follows Reading police shooting

Anthony Perrotti (right) comforted his mother, Catherine Rawson, as she talked about the death of her son, Alan Greenough.
Anthony Perrotti (right) comforted his mother, Catherine Rawson, as she talked about the death of her son, Alan Greenough. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

READING — A year ago, a Reading police officer fired two bullets into Alan Greenough’s chest as he stood in a parking lot next to his Main Street apartment, fatally piercing his heart.

An SUV with two bullet holes in the passenger door remains parked outside the building, a stark reminder of a shooting that has been shrouded in secrecy.

Hours after the shooting, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said it took place after police had been called to Greenough’s apartment twice in two days to investigate reports that he had assaulted “a household member.” Authorities have provided no additional information since then, including autopsy results, and have refused to identify the officer involved.

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Anthony Perrotti, 39, said he wasn’t even allowed to see his brother’s body when he was called to the medical examiner’s office to identify him the day after the shooting. Instead, he was shown a photograph of his corpse.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the shooting, Perrotti and Greenough’s mother, Catherine Rawson, said the wait for answers has been agonizing, intensifying their anger over his death.

A photograph of Alan Greenough hung on Catherine Rawson's living room wall.
A photograph of Alan Greenough hung on Catherine Rawson's living room wall.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

“He shouldn’t have been killed, and I’ll never, ever understand why,” Rawson said. “Why didn’t you shoot him in the legs? Why didn’t you yell? Why did you have to shoot him in his heart?”

Perotti said his brother was not armed. And lawyers for the family say that while Greenough, 43, lay bleeding and motionless on the ground, officers handcuffed him behind his back while waiting for an ambulance.

In November, Rawson, Perrotti, and their lawyers met with prosecutors. Rawson said she complained about the secrecy surrounding the shooting and told prosecutors she didn’t trust them to conduct a fair investigation, since they work so closely with police.

In an unusual move, a district court judge, Stacey J. Fortes, recently notified Greenough’s family that she will hold an inquest next month into his death at the request of prosecutors, who will present evidence and call witnesses to testify. Fortes will recommend whether criminal charges should be filed against the officer. Prosecutors will then decide whether to seek a grand jury indictment or close the case.

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The inquest, scheduled to begin March 25 in Woburn District Court, will be closed to the public, but Greenough’s family and the police officer will be allowed to attend.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan declined to comment on details of the shooting but said it marked the first time she has sought an inquest, which will allow the family to hear the evidence.

“Obviously in these situations what we are looking for is to get to the just result, to get there through a process that is transparent, and to have folks have a result that they have confidence in,” Ryan said.

She defended her office’s decision to withhold information about the shooting, including the officer’s name, saying it was necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation. Ryan said she would release the officer’s name, along with the judge’s findings about the shooting, after the inquest is completed.

“This is a case we are working hard on,” Ryan said. “At the end of the day, we want to get to the right place.”

Reading Police Deputy Chief David Clark declined to comment on the shooting but confirmed the officer has remained on paid administrative leave since then.

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While authorities have not publicly released the officer’s name, several people familiar with the case identified him as Erik Drauschke, 36, a police officer in Reading for 12 years. Drauschke’s lawyer, Peter Pasciucco, declined to provide details about the shooting but said it was justified.

A memorial cross next to the spot where Alan Greenough was fatally shot.
A memorial cross next to the spot where Alan Greenough was fatally shot.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

“There’s no question in my mind that the officer’s use of deadly force was justified in this case, and we are extremely confident that the evidence presented at the inquest will only confirm that,” he said.

Pasciucco said Drauschke has a “tremendous reputation” in the community and among his fellow officers and has no record of discipline or excessive force complaints. He said Drauschke has been fully cooperative, was interviewed twice by State Police detectives investigating the case, and will testify during the inquest.

Boston civil rights attorney Howard Friedman said that it should not take a year to determine whether deadly force was necessary and that it’s “bad policy” by police and prosecutors to withhold information from the victim’s family for so long.

“Obviously, if you wait a year the family is going to think you aren’t giving information because you are covering up,” said Friedman, who is not involved in the Greenough case. “What they’ve done is only make it seem more suspicious.”

Greenough’s mother and brother said that they believe the shooting was not justified and that police should be held accountable. They want people to know that Greenough, who grew up in North Reading and worked at the garage that his brother managed, had family and friends who loved him and that his life mattered.

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Greenough had a criminal history that included a conviction for drunk driving in 2012 and assaulting someone with a tea kettle in 2003.

In September 2017, Greenough suffered a seizure and became combative while being treated at Winchester Hospital, prompting police to place him in protective custody.

Later, Greenough claimed Winchester police smashed his head against a cruiser, fracturing the bone around his eye. But police said Greenough injured himself. According to a police report, he was a “belligerent drunk” who was yelling at the hospital and was later seen in a holding cell “kicking and headbutting the walls and the door and flailing around.”

His attorneys, Victor Koufman and Melissa Garand, said he asked them to pursue a civil rights suit against the police.

“He shouldn’t have been killed, and I’ll never, ever understand why,” Catherine Rawson said of her son, Alan Greenough.
“He shouldn’t have been killed, and I’ll never, ever understand why,” Catherine Rawson said of her son, Alan Greenough. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

Greenough’s mother acknowledged her son was “no angel” but said he was “a kind soul” who would do anything for a friend. The family said the trouble began when Greenough let a friend stay at his two-bedroom apartment, attached to East Coast Gas and Auto Repair, where Greenough and his brother worked. The man’s girlfriend moved in next, without Greenough’s consent, and he began to feel like a stranger in his own home.

On Feb. 2, 2018, the night before Greenough was killed, he returned from a friend’s wake and got into a shoving match with his male roommate, according to his brother. A table was broken during the confrontation. Police were called to the apartment, but Greenough left before they arrived.

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When Greenough returned the next afternoon, Perrotti said, he accompanied him into his apartment and found the roommate’s girlfriend rifling through Greenough’s things.

Greenough demanded to know why she was in his room, touching off a brief argument. The couple left and called police around 3:45 p.m., reporting an alleged assault.

Perrotti was working at the garage when he saw at least six cruisers arrive within minutes. Greenough dead-bolted the door and refused to open it, his brother said. Perrotti said he called his brother and urged him to come outside but said his brother was afraid of police and told him, “I did nothing wrong. Why do they want to see me? . . . They’re going to beat the [expletive] out of me.”

Greenough waved a broken table leg at police while yelling at them through a window that he wasn’t going to unlock the door, according to Perrotti.

Perrotti said an officer told him, “If he doesn’t open the door and we have to go in there and get him, he’s going to end up with a broken nose or a broken jaw.”

A bullet hole on the inside of the passenger door on the vehicle where Alan Greenough hid. He was shot while exiting through the passenger side door.
A bullet hole on the inside of the passenger door on the vehicle where Alan Greenough hid. He was shot while exiting through the passenger side door.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

A short time later, police entered the apartment through another door and discovered Greenough had climbed out a back window, according to Perrotti. At approximately 4:33 p.m., about 45 minutes after police arrived, two shots rang out.

“I run over to the side of the building, and I see my brother on the ground next to this Hummer, hunched over, bleeding, not moving,” Perrotti said.

He said he believed his brother was hiding in the SUV.

Perrotti said he never heard the officer yell anything beforehand or call for backup. The officer was alone, just feet from his brother, when Perrotti rushed to his side. A year later, he is haunted by one question: “Why would he shoot him?”


Emily Sweeney of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Shelley Murphy can be reached at shmurphy@globe.com.