For Immediate Release
December 17, 2008
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane E. Young
Senior Assistant Attorney General Kirsten B. Wilson
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte announces that the Attorney General's Office has made a preliminary determination that the officer-involved shooting in Manchester on November 22, 2008, was a justified use of force by New Hampshire State Trooper Stephan Czyzowski and Londonderry Police Officer Jason Teufel.
On Saturday morning, November 22, 2008, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Londonderry Officer Teufel was on routine patrol in the town of Londonderry when he received a dispatch to be on the lookout for a possible drunk driver operating a green Subaru Impreza, driving from Derry en route to Manchester. Shortly after, Officer Teufel saw a Subaru, matching the description given by the dispatcher, driving onto Interstate 93 (I-93) northbound from Route 102. Officer Teufel followed the car and confirmed the license plate on the car as being that of the suspected drunk driver. Officer Teufel noted erratic operation, which included swerving into the breakdown lane and over the center dash line of the highway. Officer Teufel activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the car. The Subaru traveled northbound for a brief time and ultimately pulled into the breakdown lane. However, the Subaru did not stop but continued traveling within the breakdown lane for approximately three seconds. The Subaru's left turn signal was activated and the car then returned to the northbound right lane of I-93.
As Officer Teufel approached Manchester, both the New Hampshire State Police and the Manchester Police were notified of the pursuit. One additional Londonderry Police Department cruiser and three State Police cruisers joined the pursuit while the Subaru continued Northbound on I-93. The police cruisers took up positions in front of and behind the Subaru in an effort to stop the car. The Subaru then began swerving left and right across all travel lanes. All law enforcement involved in the pursuit were in fully marked cruisers with their emergency lights and sirens activated. The Subaru abruptly exited I-93 at exit 6, turning left onto Candia Road. The Subaru was driven at speeds of approximately 55-65 miles per hour on the highway, and speeds of approximately 45-60 miles per hour while driving through the streets of Manchester. Radio transmissions relayed that the registered owner of the car, John Frank Leipold, (48 years of age) had a suspended driver's license.
As the pursuit continued in Manchester, two marked Manchester Police cruisers joined the pursuit. The Subaru was driven down Hall Street to the intersection of Bell Street. At that location, the Subaru turned into an elevated parking lot where the car was boxed in by three State Police cruisers. Trooper Czyzowski along with other troopers got out of their cruisers and repeatedly ordered the driver, who was later identified as John Frank Leipold, out of the Subaru. Leipold failed to comply with the officers' orders and instead began ramming the cruisers in front of and behind his car in an effort to get out of the parking lot and evade arrest. Leipold then drove over the stone retaining wall of the raised parking lot and between Londonderry and Manchester police cruisers. Leipold drove directly toward Officer Teufel who had got out of his cruiser to approach the raised parking lot. Trooper Czyzowski, who was at the rear of the Subaru, observed Leipold driving directly at Officer Teufel. Both Officer Teufel and Trooper Czyzowski discharged their firearms in an effort to stop Leipold from striking Officer Teufel with the Subaru. The Subaru veered slightly to the right barely missing Officer Teufel.
Leipold continued driving down Hall Street at a high speed. The pursuit continued through Manchester into Goffstown. Leipold was taken into custody in the driveway of 27 Cove Street. Upon taking Leipold into custody, troopers discovered that Leipold had one gunshot wound to his torso. Leipold received medical attention on scene from troopers and ambulance personnel. Leipold was transported to the Elliot Hospital for treatment of his injury. Medical records show that the gunshot wound perforated Leipold's kidney. Leipold was treated at the Elliot Hospital for his injuries and was released on November 29, 2008.
Under RSA 627:5, II(a), "[a] law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force only when he reasonably believes such force is necessary … [t]o defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes is the imminent use of deadly force …." "'Deadly force' means any assault … which the [person] commits with the purpose of causing or which he knows to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury." RSA 627:9, II. "A law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force only when he reasonably believes such force is necessary … [t]o effect an arrest … of a person whom he reasonably believes … is using a deadly weapon in attempting to escape, or otherwise indicates that he is likely to seriously endanger human life or inflict serious bodily injury unless apprehended without delay; and … [the officer] had made reasonable efforts to advise the person that he is a law enforcement officer attempting to effect an arrest and has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is aware of these facts." RSA 627:5, II(b). Depending on the manner in which it is used or intended to be used, a motor vehicle can constitute a "deadly weapon."
The State Police Major Crime Unit has interviewed numerous witnesses to this event, including Trooper Czyzowski and Officer Teufel who provided detailed statements to investigators. Following a review of these interviews as well as the multiple radio transmissions and evidence seized at the scene, the Attorney General's Office has concluded that Trooper Czyzowski and Officer Teufel were justified in using deadly force against Leipold. Despite the multiple cruiser pursuit with activated lights and sirens through two towns, the police officer's use of verbal commands, and the cruisers being used as barricades, Leipold repeatedly disobeyed law enforcement officers' commands to stop. Additionally, despite being blocked in the elevated parking area, Leipold rammed several cruisers in an effort to escape arrest. Instead, Leipold demonstrated no inclination to discontinue his flight from officers and placed an officer in direct danger of serious bodily injury or death when he drove directly at Officer Teufel who had no avenue of retreat at the time Leipold drove at him. If Leipold had not been redirected by gunfire at the last moment, Officer Teufel would have been subjected to serious injury or death by being struck with the Subaru that Leipold was driving. Leipold continued to flee despite all attempts of police officers to stop him. Thus the Subaru that Leipold drove was a deadly weapon in the manner which he used it or intended to use it.
A comprehensive written report concerning the investigation of this incident will be issued in the future. Please direct inquiries to either Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane E. Young, or Senior Assistant Attorney General Kirsten B. Wilson at (603) 271-3671.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301