Safe Arrest Possible Due to Availability of “Less-Lethal” Police Equipment on Sunday

At approximately 01:39 hours on Sunday morning, a group of people approached a Boston Police Sergeant assigned to District A-1 in the Downtown Crossing area.  The group stated that they had encountered a male subject acting erratically armed with a knife.  They went on to explain that the had approached them aggressively, swinging the knife and lunging in their direction. The Sergeant quickly made a radio call alerting units in the area to the mans description in an attempt to locate him. 

Shortly after being alerted to the incident, Officers from District A-1 who were canvasing the area, spotted a male subject matching the suspect description at the intersection of Winter Street and Washington Street wheedling the knife in his hand. The Officers issued multiple commands for the man to drop the knife and to get onto the ground, attempting to give the man a chance to peacefully surrender.  The suspect however fled the area on foot, refusing to follow the Officers commands, and continuing to swing the knife erratically. 

Officers pursued the man, attempting to reason with him and get him to drop the weapon. Continuing to issue commands to stop, and get on the ground. The suspect could be heard shouting at the Officers, making suicidal statements, urging the Officers to just go ahead and shoot him.  It quickly became clear that this suspect intended to try and commit suicide by cop. Officers made numerous attempts to deescalate the issue by talking to the man and asking him to comply however all attempts were unsuccessful. Eventually Officers attempted to disarm the man by deploying their department issued Oleoresin Capsicum spray, also known as OC for short. The suspect took multiple cans of OC with minimal effect, continuing to maintain control of his weapon. 

Eventually, Officers were able to surround the man at the intersection of High Street and Federal Street with the assistance of an EMS Lieutenant, cornering the suspect against a EMS Department SUV. At this time the Sergeant who had retrieved his department issued  “less-lethal” shotgun, made the decision to give the suspect one finally chance to surrender. The suspect however still refused to drop his weapon. Knowing that the “bean-bag” type round that the weapon fired would not cause injury to the EMS Lieutenant, and the vehicle would work as a perfect backing to prevent the rounds from traveling passed the suspect if he missed, the Sergeant made the decision to deploy his weapon 4 times, striking the subject at least one. The suspect after being struck dropped the weapon, allowing Officers to approach and go hands-on, securing him and taking him into custody with out further injury or incident. 

The suspect was then transported by Boston EMS to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation. Upon his release, the suspect, Kenneth Kelley, 42 years old, of Londonderry NH, was subsequently charged with four counts of Assault by Means of a Dangerous Weapon, Disturbing the Peace, and Resisting Arrest. On scene multiple Officers were treated and evaluated by EMS for minor injuries, with only one Officer transported to a local area hospital. The scene was held and the Boston Police Firearm Discharge Investigation Team and Crime Scene Response Unit were called in to process it. At this time the incident is still under investigation. 

The video below shows the moments before the shots were fired and the man was safely taken into custody:

This incident is a great example of the bravery and professionalism of the Boston Police Department, showcasing, their use of restraint, deescalation and then non-lethal force. Too often the stories of the incidents across the county do not result in the safe arrest and capture of a suspect with out major injuries, and it is important to note that with out the tools such as less-lethal shotguns, OC spray and others, the outcome of this incident most likely would have been a fatal one. Strong work by all involved.