PEPPERELL — Police Chief David Scott is pleased to announce that the Office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has found that Pepperell Police Officer Justin Zink acted “reasonably and lawfully” during an officer-involved shooting incident last summer.
On June 25, 2020, Sgt. Nick Parker and Officer Justin Zink arrived at the residence of Christopher Shuttle, age 30, to serve a Warrant of Apprehension. Upon being granted entry to the residence, Shuttle immediately charged at Sgt. Parker while holding a knife above his head. Officer Zink made his way into the tight quarters of the home where Sgt. Parker was struggling to keep Shuttle from stabbing him.
Officer Zink fired one round from his department-issued firearm into Shuttle, who immediately ceased his attempts to injure Sergeant Parker.
The full report from the District Attorney’s Office can be found here.
“We appreciate District Attorney Ryan’s thorough investigation and agree with her findings that Officer Zink acted appropriately, and I would add that he acted heroically as well when faced with an extremely volatile situation,” Chief Scott said. “Officer Zink realized that he needed to act immediately, and that alternatives to firing his weapon were not viable under the circumtances that day. His actions likely saved Sgt. Parker from serious bodily injury and possibly saved his life.”
DA Ryan’s report also made two recommendations that the Pepperell Police Department had proactively completed before learning about them this week: to conduct an after-incident assessment and to consider creating a specialized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).
“I am pleased to report that our department conducted the best incident assessment that we could while this matter was still under investigation with the DA’s office and we will have a further discussion now that we have a completed incident report from which to draw,” Scott said. “We do have officers trained in CIT, however, the Pepperell Police Department is also in the process of leading the way to a more local version of CIT for its members and officers of nine other police departments in our region, which we are earger to further develop and implement.”
Pepperell Police have secured a grant from the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the United States Department of Justice to work with CIT International to conduct its own CIT training locally, which is tentatively scheduled for August 2021.
Crisis Intervention Team training involves officers attending 40-hours of training to learn how to better handle calls involving individuals who suffer from mental health and/or substance use disorders who may be in crisis. The goal of CIT training is to provide better outcomes for these crisis calls. More information on CIT can be found here.
“The Pepperell Police Department has been a regional leader in providing assistance to individuals suffering from mental health and substance use disorders,” Chief Scott said. “As the lead agency in our ten-town Community Outreach Initiative Network (COIN), and the development of local CIT training, we fully understand the importance of handling these calls in a way that addresses the needs of those in crisis while protecting the safety of all involved.”
Chief Scott added, “The incident with Mr. Shuttle escalated immediately upon the officers being allowed into the home by a third party and, unfortunately, the situation concluded with Mr. Shuttle being shot. We are glad his injuries were not fatal and that both officers are okay, and we will continue to lead our neighboring police departments in doing all we can to ensure better outcomes for individuals in crisis whenever possible.”