Police in Auburn, Massachusetts, exhibited restraint during an intense confrontation that could have turned deadly.
NBC Boston Investigators obtained the police radio transmission that details the confrontation between police and a suspect on Tuesday. The suspect, later identified as Marqus Mitchell, had a gun and led police on a high-speed chase.
It started as a routine check of a suspicious car in a parking lot.
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The officer told dispatch, “Checking on a car at the Outback lot.” Within seconds, it turns dangerous as the officer shouted, “He’s got a gun.”
Police had found cocaine in the suspect's pocket and a gun in the car.
Then seconds later, another warning “He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.”
“When they [police] went to handcuff him [Mitchell], he tensed up and wouldn’t cooperate," Auburn Police Chief Andy Sluckis, Jr. said. "They said relax its going to be okay, don’t do something stupid to make this any worse than it is. At that point in time, the struggle was on.”
Police tazed Mitchell twice and pepper sprayed him, yet Mitchell broke away from the officers and ran to his car and took off.
The police radio transmission continues with the officer alerting, “Firearm in the vehicle. He took off. Getting onto the pike right now.”
During the high speed chase, where Mitchell reached 140 mph, officers were considering safety and other drivers on the road.
“Permission to continue, we have moderate traffic, but we found a firearm in that vehicle and he had cocaine as well,” police radioed.
Mitchell eventually crashed on I-495 in Marlborough, on the Exit 24 off-ramp to Route 20.
Police say when Mitchell got out of the car he was holding the gun.
Massachusetts State Police told Mitchell to drop the gun and he complied.
The confrontation brought back intense moments for the Auburn Police Department, who lost one of their own a year ago when officer Ronald Tarentino was killed during a traffic stop.
“I was brought back to last May when Officer Tarentino was shot and killed. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was on my way home and when I heard the radio transmission, I turned my lights on, turned around, and headed back,” Sluckis said.
For Sluckis, it was a sober reminder.
“You don’t always know who you are dealing with,” Sluckis said.
Bryan Vila, a national police expert and former officer, has studied hundreds of cases and commends the Auburn officers for their response in this instance.
Vila says it takes half a second to make the decision not to draw their gun. In the same half second the suspect can turn on them and start shooting.
Mark Lahey, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, says that de-escalation of these types of confrontations has been a recent priority, and also commended the Auburn police action.
"Clearly a great job by the Auburn and State police officers," Lahey said.