MERRIMACK — Two local police officers were legally justified when they used deadly force against Harrison Lambert as he charged at them with a knife Sept. 3, according to a new report. On Thursday, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office released its findings in the fatal shooting outside of 8 Joppa Road. “Based on all the facts and circumstances of this case, the attorney general has determined that Harrison Lambert created a dangerous situation that escalated to the point where it became reasonable for Lt. Matthew Tarleton and Officer William Gudzinowicz to conclude that they faced an imminent threat of deadly force by Harrison,” the report states. Harrison, 23, ignored repeated commands from police to drop his knife and instead “charged the officers in an aggressive manner, with his knife in hand and the blade pointed toward the officers,” states the report, adding “it was reasonable for (the officers) to conclude that Harrison was about to use deadly force against them.” According to Attorney General Joseph Foster, Lambert’s father called 911 on Sept. 3 to report that his son was armed with a knife and threatening him inside their home, adding his son suffered from mental illness and his mental health had deteriorated in the days leading up to the incident. Three local police officers responded, and all of them were familiar with Harrison Lambert from previous interactions, including foot pursuits, erratic behavior, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, according to the 18-page report. Tarleton and Gudzinowicz, along with officer Richard McKenzie, drew their duty weapons when finding the younger Harrison with a knife at the end of the driveway. Although officers issued commands for him to drop the knife, Lambert still ran toward police with the blade facing forward, according to the report. When Lambert was between 12 and 15 feet of the police officers, two of them fired their weapons. “In total, eight shots were fired — five from Officer Gudzinowicz and three from Lt. Tarleton. Harrison was struck by five bullets — two to his left shoulder, one to the right side of his neck, one to his abdomen and one to his right leg,” says the document. McKenzie told investigators that he did not fire his gun because he felt it was not safe due to the proximity of homes, and the possibility of striking a fellow officer or passing cars. According to Lambert’s parents, their son was not taking his medication, had not been sleeping and was acting erratically in the days prior to the shooting. Gregory Lambert told authorities that on Sept. 3, his son insisted on paying him $150, but then requested the money back. The elder Lambert left the money on a hutch, and moments later his son entered the room in a rage holding a knife, states the report. Although Gregory Lambert was able to defend himself with a crowbar and a broom handle, Harrison Lambert continued to threaten his father with the knife. In an attempt to calm his son down, the father told him that his mother would be returning home shortly. “I will take care of her,” Harrison Lambert told his father, which prompted the call to police, according to Foster’s findings. When police arrived, Harrison Lambert was already outside in the driveway, appearing distraught and angry with the weapon in his hand. Following the shooting, which happened about 30 seconds after authorities arrived, Merrimack police told the father, “we had to do it — he came at us with a knife,” adding it was the last thing they wanted to do, states the report. Officers immediately rendered medical aid to Harrison Lambert. “Why did you do that? I knew I should not have called,” the elder Lambert told police following the shooting. “I am from the military, you are suppose to shoot him in the leg.”
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