New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Jane Young found that Thornton Police Officer Matthew Yao was justified in fatally shooting a man in October who charged at him while naked and covered in blood.
A homeowner called 9-1-1 on Oct. 19, 2020 to report one of his tenants, 37-year-old Ethan Freeman, had injured himself, according to the attorney general’s report. Freeman had a history of mental illness, Young noted.
“Ethan, it’s Officer Yao, are you okay?” Yao can be heard asking when he arrived at the residence, according to body cam video.
Freeman began acting erratically, yelling that he was suicidal and needed the cops, an ambulance and a “rescue team” to help him.
When Yao asks if he’s armed, Freeman becomes erratic, calling Yao a “fa**ot” and later using racial slurs against the officer.
“When Officer Yao looked into Mr. Freeman’s apartment, he saw that Mr. Freeman was completely naked, bleeding, masturbating with one hand, and brandishing a wooden furniture piece in the other hand,” Young wrote in her report.
Video shows Yao moved away from the front of the apartment and tried to calm Freeman down, telling Freeman to “drop that.” It is unclear what Freeman was holding.
“You’re dead” Freeman can be heard saying while still inside his apartment, video shows. Yao radios to another officer that Freeman had threatened his life.
Yao can be heard trying to reassure Freeman that he was there to help and that they had just met earlier in the day.
“It doesn’t matter, I’m coming out there to kill you,” Freeman again tells Yao, according to the video.
Roughly a minute after Yao walked away from the apartment, Freeman jumped through one of his windows, naked and covered in blood, video footage shows.
Yao can be heard telling Freeman to “stay back” as he continues to retreat. Freeman picked up his pace and continued charging toward Yao, who “fired two shots in quick succession,” Young wrote in her report.
Once another officer arrived on scene Yao administered aid to Freeman, according to Young’s report. Young notes that Freeman had died at that point. (RELATED: REPORT: Father Invites Officers Who Fatally Shot Daughter During Carjacking To Funeral)
“All of the other evidence gathered from the investigation supports the conclusion that Officer Yao did reasonably believe that he faced the imminent use of deadly physical force from Mr. Freeman at the time that the officer fired his pistol,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinkley said during a press briefing Tuesday, according to WMUR 9.
Earlier in the day, Freeman had requested an ambulance for chest pains. Young noted the encounter was “non confrontational” and that Freeman was cooperative with Yao. Video shows Freeman tell Yao he was “having a heart attack” and that he hadn’t slept for days.
Yao can be heard talking to Freeman calmly.
Once Freeman arrives at the hospital, however, he runs toward the hospital entrance, with Yao chasing him on foot. Freeman ultimately declined admittance to the hospital and “took off before he received any medical treatment,” Young noted.