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DA Ryan: Tewksbury Police Fatal Shooting Was Justified

Apr 03, 2015 03:39PM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury Police Headquarters.

Two Tewksbury Police detectives have been cleared in connection with the fatal shooting of a stabbing suspect earlier this year.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan released a statement today announcing the conclusion of an investigation into the shooting, which took place in the wake of an incident in the parking lot of the Salter Business School on Woburn St.

Douglas Sparks, 30, of Medford, died after being shot multiple times in a confrontation with the detectives on Forest Avenue.

The incident began the morning of Feb. 17, when Tewksbury Police received multiple 911 calls reporting two people having been stabbed in the parking lot of the Salter School. The suspect fled the scene of the attack and responding responding officers located him on Forest Avenue.  When officers approached the suspect, they saw the suspect holding a gun.  The suspect refused to comply with the officers’ orders to drop the gun and shots were fired by the officers, striking the suspect.  The suspect was transported to Lowell General Hospital Saints Campus where he was pronounced dead. 

According to Ryan, the focus of the investigation was to determine whether the actions of the two detectives were criminal or whether the officers were justified in the use of deadly force.

Ryan statement reads as follows:

“The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office have completed the investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting of a stabbing suspect, Douglas Sparks, 30, of Medford, in Tewksbury on February 17, 2015.  

 This investigation concludes that, in the totality of the circumstances, the two detectives were justified in the use of deadly force and that there was no criminal conduct involved in the shooting of Douglas Sparks.”

 Following the shooting, the gun Sparks was holding was determined to be a realitic looking BB gun, specifically a .177/4.5 mm caliber Colt model Defender by UMAREX BB gun, with a CO2 cartridge, with 12.177 copper colored BBs. 

According to investigators, the BB gun had no orange tip, which would have easily identified it as a replica and not a real gun. 

According to Ryan, the investigation into the shooting included interviews of all the responding police officers and civilian witnesses; ballistics examination; examination of evidence found at the scene; review of radio transmissions, police reports, and review of the medical examiner’s findings.

The stabbing victims in the case, which included Sparks' ex-girlfriend, sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the attack.


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