AG: Police Use of Deadly Force Justified in Rochester Shooting

Oct 4, 2018

Law enforcement and state officials speak at a news conference in Rochester as Skyeann Sullivan, Douglas Heath's daughter, looks on at far right.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The New Hampshire Attorney General won't file criminal charges against two Rochester police officers and two state troopers who shot and killed a man after a recent car chase.

At a news conference Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley played dashboard camera and cell phone videos from the Aug. 20 confrontation. 

The footage shows 38-year-old Douglas Heath crashing his SUV on Route 125 in Rochester, after allegedly fleeing warrants for felony drug charges. 

Heath falls from the car and fires a handgun toward police and a bystander. Then, police shoot back.

Hinckley says the whole exchange lasts about 15 seconds.

"This was an incredibly fast-moving, dangerous and volatile event," Hinckley says. "Decisions had to be made, and were made, in less than a second." 

The state found Heath had opioids and amphetamines in his system when he died. 

His daughter, 20-year-old Skyeann Sullivan, was at the news conference. She says drugs changed her father. 

"He just didn't know what to do with himself anymore. Drugs took over," she says. "That wasn't my dad." 

Sullivan says she knows now that her father fired the first shots, but still doesn't feel deadly force was necessary.

Heath's death marks the third officer-involved shooting in New Hampshire this year, according to the Attorney General's office. The state saw six officer-involved shootings total in 2017.

Click here to read the AG's report on Heath's shooting.