Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett has issued a report clearing officers and troopers of any wrongdoing leading to the death of Kenneth Howe while in police custody.
According to a statement issued by the Essex County D.A.’s office “[o]n November 25, 2009 Kenneth Howe was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped at a “sobriety checkpoint” on Route 114 in North Andover. After a struggle, Mr. Howe was placed under arrest and transported to State Police barracks in Andover for booking. Upon arrival, Mr. Howe appeared to be asleep and therefore had to be carried upstairs to the booking area by officers. When they got him to the booking area, the officers noticed that Mr. Howe had stopped breathing. They immediately initiated CPR and called for an ambulance. Mr. Howe was taken to Lawrence General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. November 26, 2009.”
An autopsy and subsequent interview of the medical examiners showed that Mr. Howe had “no ‘purposeful’ injuries” and there was no evidence that he had been struck with a baton or flashlight. In addition, investigators conducted over 70 interviews of witnesses, including law enforcement officers present at the arrest, a news photographer who photographed the event, and other occupants of Mr. Howe’s car, none of whom reported that officers or troopers struck Mr. Howe or used excessive force.
According to the D.A’s statement, “the unfortunate death of Mr. Howe was caused by a strenuous struggle between Mr. Howe and law enforcement officers. This struggle continued as a direct result of Mr. Howe’s failure to comply with law enforcement’s requests for cooperation. Officers did respond to Mr. Howe’s resistance with appropriate force in order to restrain him.”