Fall River Officer Cleared in Shooting Death of New Bedford Man
FALL RIVER — The Bristol County District Attorney's Office has cleared the Fall River police officer involved in the fatal shooting of a New Bedford man last November.
In a report issued Friday by the DA's office, Officer Nicholas Hoar was found to be "justified in using deadly force" against 19-year-old Larry Ruiz-Barreto.
"The death of Larry Ruiz-Barreto was a tragedy for all those involved in this incident, especially for members of his family. My sincerest condolences go out to Mr. Ruiz-Barreto's family for the loss of their loved one," Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said. "During the past four months, our office and state police detectives assigned to our office, have conducted a thorough, independent and extensive investigation into all the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident. We concluded, after careful review of all the evidence, that the officer was justified in using deadly force in this case."
The independent investigation was led by Deputy District Attorney William McCauley, and conducted by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the DA's office.
On November 13, 2017, at about 11:45 p.m., Officer Hoar was the first to respond to a report of shots fired in the area of Riggenbach and Airport Roads in Fall River. There, a number of cars had met up to drag race, and a person that had been in the area called 9-1-1 and reported hearing gunshots.
The report said that since the officers were responding to a report of shots fired, when they arrived on scene, it seemed to be consistent with that report, with "numerous cars, people and smoke. The officer encountered a chaotic scene with multiple people and cars fleeing or attempting to leave."
Officer Hoar used his police vehicle, a Ford Explorer, to attempt to block the Acura driven by Ruiz-Barreto from leaving the scene. The officer found himself positioned between the two vehicles, with his gun drawn, as he attempted to get Ruiz-Barreto to turn off the car's engine.
In addition, the report acknowledges that Officer Hoar "made a lawful stop by blocking the Acura from leaving" and "the driver, Mr. Ruiz-Barreto, was required to submit to police authority."
The report included witness reports that stated Ruiz-Barreto was using his vehicle to attempt to "nudge" Hoar, which caused him to be taken off his feet and knocked onto the hood of the Acura. Hoar said he shouted at Ruiz-Barreto to stop the vehicle, and had his gun pointed at the vehicle, and when he was knocked onto the hood his firearm was pressed up against the windshield. Hoar continued to order Ruiz-Barreto to stop the vehicle, but instead, Ruiz-Barreto hit the gas, which then led Hoar to fire six rounds at Ruiz-Barreto.
Quinn's office concluded that because Ruiz-Barreto "continued to use his car as a dangerous weapon" against Officer Hoar, the officer's use of his firearm and deadly force was justified.
"Although the police officer caused Mr. Ruiz-Barreto's death, we conclude that the use of deadly force was warranted under all of the circumstances which include that Mr. Ruiz-Barreto intentionally and unlawfully used his motor vehicle to imperil the life of the officer."
"Mr. Ruiz-Barreto was repsonsible for the actions that led the officer to use such force," Quinn wrote, noting that the use of deadly force in this incident "did not constitute criminal conduct."
Read the full report here: Ruiz-Barreto Final Report