NEW BEDFORD (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) A Bristol County District Attorney's Office investigation has revealed that the use of deadly force by two members of the New Bedford Police gang unit against a 15-year-old boy was justified.
In a 14-page report, the District Attorney's office reveals that 15-year-old Malcolm Gracia had a history of mental illness prior to his fatal May 17 altercation with the New Bedford Police.
Both of Gracia's parents also had a history of mental illness. His mother was no longer his custodial guardian at the time of his death, and he had recently run away from his other family members.
In August 2009, Gracia's father was killed by Dartmouth Police after allegedly attacking two officers with a homemade weapon. Although Gracia did not have contact with his father, investigators allege that his death had a great impact on him.
In an interview, an unidentified witness claims that Gracia confided in him about his father's death. The witness alleged that Gracia said his, "father got killed by police and that is why he hated them."
Gracia also allegedly claimed he had "sold his soul to the devil" and was "going to go out of his life in a way that made him famous."
On May 17, members of the gang unit approached Gracia and a 16-year-old companion and engaged them in conversation. The officers allegedly perceived the teens' body language as a threat and asked them to remove their hands from their pockets several times.
When the teens didn't comply with their requests, the officers asked them to put their hands on a nearby vehicle. It is then that Gracia allegedly took off.
Detective Barnes began to approach Gracia from his front. When the teen realized this, he began heading back toward the area where he originally ran away. During this time, the 15-year-old allegedly began tugging at his waist. When Detective Barnes came face-to-face with Gracia, he held the teen's shoulders as to control his movement. It is then that Gracia stabbed the detective in his abdomen.
Gracia was then on the move again and approaching two other detectives. After telling the 15-year-old to drop his weapon, the detectives tried to use a Taser gun to subdue him.
When the Taser did not work, the detectives continued to tell Gracia to stop and drop his weapon. Gracia allegedly continued to advance toward one of the detectives, so they opened fire three times.
The shots sent Gracia to the ground, but not for long. Detectives allegedly opened fire another three times after Gracia attempted to stand back up with his knife in hand.
Gracia was pronounced dead at St. Luke's Hospital at 9:21 p.m. on May 17.
Detective Barnes was treated at Rhode Island Hospital for a stab wound to his chest and his abdomen.