Bristol DA: Easton Police-Involved Fatal Shooting Justified
EASTON — An Easton police officer who fatally shot a woman during a wellbeing check acted in self-defense, according to findings from an investigation released by the Bristol County District Attorney's office Thursday.
Marianne Griffiths, 56, had an air rifle when she was killed by a gunshot wound after police responded to a 911 call for a wellness check at her Spooner Street home at around 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 5.
According to the D.A.'s report, Griffiths' son called 911 to report that she was nearly incoherent, and had told him she'd taken 20 doses of insulin and wanted to die.
One of Griffiths' sons had recently died in a car accident in December 2022, and the report noted that she had a history of calls for mental health-related crises — including attempted suicide — dating back to 2010.
Police arrived with paramedics and fire crews for the wellness check, but when they went down to the basement where Griffiths was located, the first officer down the stairs said he saw the woman with a rifle in her hands.
The officer — who was not identified in the D.A.'s report — immediately grabbed the officer coming down behind him and pushed him back up the stairs, shouting that there was a gun.
They retreated to the top of the stairs, and tried to communicate with Griffiths, who allegedly told them that she would kill them first and then turn the gun on herself.
Griffiths' parents were in the house as well, and her father told the officers that there was, in fact, a loaded .22 rifle in the basement.
An interview with Griffiths' son later revealed he had called her back after dialing 911, at which point she allegedly told him that police had arrived, and she intended to commit "suicide by cop."
However, the son did not tell 911 dispatchers what his mother had said, according to the report.
The officers cleared the house of Griffiths' parents, paramedics and fire crews and took up defensive positions outside — at which point the first officer allegedly saw Griffiths approach the front door with the gun.
According to the report, he feared for his own safety and for the safety of the public.
He fired once into the house at her, but the officers allegedly could not see through the shattered glass of the storm door to determine if Griffiths was struck.
SWAT teams arrived and Griffiths was later found dead inside the home with a Daisy Powerline Air Rifle next to her.
The report stated that the air rifle in Griffiths' possession looks like a firearm, and did not have an orange tip or any other indication that it is not.
The D.A. concluded in the report that Easton police made multiple attempts to de-escalate the situation, and the use of force was justified and commensurate with self-defense laws and Easton police department policy.
The report stated that "there is no basis" to conclude that the officer who shot Griffiths committed any crime.