SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Investigators have cleared the two Seekonk police officers involved in the shooting death of a New Hampshire man last month of any wrongdoing.
A preliminary investigation conducted by the Bristol County District Attorney’s office has determined the use of force against 47-year-old Jeffrey Groulx was justified because the suspect had opened fire on the officers with an AK-47.
“Jeffrey Groulx was a heavily armed, fleeing felon,” the investigation report reads. “Groulx had a long history of using deadly weapons in the perpetration of his violent criminal acts.”
Prior to the shooting, officers were called to New England Tire after the department was notified that the business had been broken into.
The DA’s office said it was later determined that Groulx broke into the business and stole money from the cash register.
Upon leaving the New England Tire, Groulx walked over to another nearby business and got into a vehicle in the parking lot, according to the DA’s office.
One of the responding officers noticed Groulx sitting in the vehicle, which they later learned was reported stolen out of New Hampshire.
The DA’s office said once Groulx spotted the officers, he sped off down Route 6. Groulx led officers on a brief chase before ultimately losing control of his car and crashing at the intersection of Route 6 and School Street.
Almost immediately after both officers arrived at the scene of the crash, the DA’s office said Groulx opened fire on them, though neither had their weapons drawn.
The officers took cover and returned fire, according to the DA’s office, and once one of them noticed Groulx had stopped moving, they cautiously went to check on him.
The DA’s office said when Groulx did not comply with the officers’ requests to drop his weapon, they retreated and waited for the SWAT team to arrive.
Once the SWAT team determined Groulx was no longer a threat, the DA’s office said first responders cut open the roof of the vehicle and found him dead in the driver’s seat.
The Medical Examiner determined Groulx was shot twice, with the most significant being a fatal gunshot wound to the head.
The DA’s office said Groulx had “an extensive criminal record in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Louisiana” and there were several active warrants out for his arrest.
The investigation concluded that both officers acted in self defense and were trying to render aid to Groulx when he opened fire.
“The sudden an unexpected firing of the rifle by Groulx reasonably caused officers to fear that they would be killed or suffer serious bodily injury,” the report reads.
The DA’s office said the incident remains under investigation, adding that they’re waiting for Groulx’s toxicology results. The final report will be released by the DA’s office once those test results, among others, are available.