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State Says Trooper Injured In Fatal Gunfight Used Appropriate Force

photo of pistol
NH Attorney General

The New Hampshire Department of Justice is clearing a state trooper of any wrongdoing after a traffic stop led to a fatal shootout last December in Dalton.

Acting Attorney General Jane Young said Wednesday that Trooper Matthew Merrill’s use of deadly force against Marc Clermont, 45, was legally justified. 

According to afinal reportinto the incident, Merrill attempted to pull over Clermont, a Whitefield resident, for speeding. Clermont, whose driver’s license was suspended after multiple DUI convictions, fled from the trooper. Clermont was also in possession of both a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle, despite his status as a convicted felon who couldn’t own weapons.

After pulling into the driveway of an acquaintance, Clermont began walking toward the house. According to Jeffrey Strelzin, associate attorney general, Merrill “ordered him to stop. Mr. Clermont disobeyed those orders and walked away from him. When Trooper Merrill tried to use non-deadly force by grabbing Mr. Clermont and taking him into custody, Mr. Clermont responded with deadly force and shot Trooper Merrill in the abdomen.” 

photo of shot up black car
Credit NH Attorney General
A bullet-riddled car in the driveway where the incident took place last December 23.

Merrill and Clermont then separated, and over the next few minutes, exchanged at least 30 shots. Merrill was struck in the foot with a second bullet. He then fatally shot Clermont from an estimated distance of more than 100 feet.

Merrill survived the incident and is still recovering from his injuries. 

“[Clermont] likely believed that as a convicted felon who didn’t have a license, and was in possession of a lethal firearm, that if Trooper Merrill caught him, he was going back to prison,” said Strelzin.

Friends of Clermont reported to authorities that he was suffering from delusions in recent months, including a belief that he could detect aliens and that his water was being poisoned.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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