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AG: Officer's Use Of Deadly Force Was Justified In Epping Shooting


The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office says a State Trooper's use of deadly force in September was legally justified.

The incident began when Trooper Kevin Dobson responded to multiple calls about a drunk driver on Route 101.

Dobson found the vehicle parked off the road in Epping.

There are no eyewitnesses nor dashboard footage, but investigators have determined that the driver, Walter Welch Jr., of Epping, was intoxicated far above the legal driving limit.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald says when Trooper Dobson approached Welch, Welch fired a handgun from the driver's seat in the direction of Trooper Dobson.

"The trooper repeatedly ordered Mr. Welch to drop his gun," MacDonald said.

"Trooper Dobson could see that Mr. Welch was trying to get out of the truck. When Mr. Welch opened the driver's side door of the truck, Trooper Dobson fired his weapon four times into the rear of the cab of the truck, towards Mr. Welch, striking Mr Welch twice in the head."

Welch died immediately.

A medical examiner found that he had shot himself in the head milliseconds before Trooper Dobson shot him. Both sets of bullets would have been fatal, so the AG's office could not determine whether the cause of death was suicide or homicide.

Colonel Christopher Wagner of the State Police said that regardless, the loss was tragic.

"We understand that any loss of life is unacceptable," he asid. "We are in the business of saving lives and protecting people. But there are cases where law enforcement are faced with unimaginable circumstances."

Trooper Dobson, who was on administrative leave, will not receive disciplinary action and is expected back on the job.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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