By HILARY RUSS
Cape Cod Times
February 22, 2007
Barnstable police officer who shot Anthony Roberts to stop his
escape through Barnstable Village on Tuesday followed proper
procedure, a department spokesman said yesterday.
''Everything that these guys did was absolutely right by the book,''
said Barnstable police Sgt. Sean Sweeney, the public information
Roberts, 22, was shot just before 9 a.m. Tuesday after he slipped
one hand out of his handcuffs, bolted from a police van at
Barnstable District Court, ran down the hill to Route 6A and
carjacked a Honda Accord in the parking lot of the Barnstable
As police officers yelled at him to stop and began to bash in the
car's windows, Roberts backed into a Cape Cod Times delivery van and
drove toward Route 6A. A Barnstable police officer then fired a shot
through the driver's window into Roberts' chest, under his left arm,
Last night, Roberts was listed in fair condition at Beth Israel
Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
Roberts is the son of Howard ''Tony'' Roberts, a former Barnstable
County Sheriff's Deputy. Attempts to reach his mother and father
were unsuccessful yesterday.
Roberts' attorney, J. Drew Segadelli, said yesterday that his client
had been stabilized and was no longer in critical condition. ''My
first concern right now, and main focus, is my guy's well-being,''
Segadelli said Roberts did not intend to harm the officers when he
attempted to escape, and he urged authorities to ''take a sober look
at all the evidence.''
The lawyer also said he is concerned about ''a ton of
misinformation'' related to the escape, including an erroneous
report by an official in Boston that Roberts died. The bogus report
led to charges briefly being dropped yesterday in Barnstable
There was no further information available yesterday on the report.
The escape incident is under investigation by the Plymouth County
District Attorney's Office but a spokeswoman would not release any
''We're going to take a thorough look at this, and it will take as
long as it takes,'' Assistant District Attorney Bridget Norton
Middleton said. The Plymouth office is handling the case because
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe was a witness to
Barnstable Police were equally tight-lipped about details yesterday,
including the names of the officers involved. Two, including the
officer who shot Roberts, were placed on paid administrative leave
after the shooting, following department procedure.Police are in a
''fact-finding, cooling off time,'' Sweeney said.
After the shooting, officers were immediately contacted by the
department's critical incident peer support group to make sure they
received any psychological counseling they might need, he said.
''Officers will not use deadly force except in situations where the
officer reasonably believes that the action is needed to protect
himself, herself or another person from imminent death or serious
bodily injury,'' Sweeney said, quoting from police department
Shooting out the car's tires was not an option, he said.
''You have to know what the backstop is,'' he said. If a bullet were
to ricochet off the ground or tire rim and hit someone, ''you would
just be absolutely culpable.''
And, damaging a tire or other part of a car will not necessarily
bring it to an immediate halt, said Tom Aveni, a researcher and
police trainer for The Police Policy Studies Council based in New
Hampshire. A car with blown tires can plow ahead for many miles at
speeds fast enough to kill others, he said.
Police in Western states have begun limiting or eliminating policy
that allows officers to shoot at moving vehicles. ''What you see is
agencies saying that in effect, under no circumstances [do you]
shoot at a moving vehicle unless someone in the car is firing,''
However, he called that policy ''an extreme knee-jerk reaction,''
because cars sometimes have been used as deadly weapons.
''When an officer uses deadly force, they're supposed to use it not
against the object but against the person that's trying to kill
him,'' Aveni said.
At a press conference Tuesday, Barnstable Police Chief Paul
MacDonald said witnesses described Roberts as driving ''like a
maniac'' and that it appeared he was trying to run over police
Roberts had been going to court to face forgery, motor vehicle, drug
possession and other charges. He has several other open cases in
Barnstable District Court, including allegations of assault and
battery on police officers, resisting arrest, unarmed burglary and
property destruction, according to court documents. All charges are
slated to be heard on March 21.
He was also out on $30,000 bail from drug trafficking charges in
Plymouth County, Sweeney said.
writer Patrick Cassidy contributed to this report. Hilary Russ can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org