Bristol County DA Finds Fatal Fall River Police Shooting ‘Justified’
FALL RIVER — Preliminary results from an investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Fall River man last month show that the shooting was 'justified,' according to a report from the Bristol County District Attorney's Office.
On Nov. 22, 30-year-old Anthony Harden was shot and critically wounded at his 120 Melville St. home after two police officers came to speak with him about a domestic violence complaint.
He was rushed to St. Anne's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Although the investigation is ongoing, an 11-page report from the D.A.'s office released Wednesday night gives a full account of how Harden died, according to state police investigators assigned to the office.
At the time, Harden was confined to his home with a GPS monitoring bracelet due to pending domestic assault and reckless endangerment of a child charges against him from November 2019.
Before his death on Nov. 22, police interviewed a different alleged domestic violence victim, who claimed that two days prior, Harden had kocked her down and hit her in the face with a wooden stick.
The responding officers — a man and a woman, both unidentified in the report — photographed the alleged victim's injuries, and she told them that Harden did not have any weapons.
She also noted that he could use anything as a weapon, according to the report.
Both officers then went to 120 Melville St. to arrest Harden.
He was sitting at his desk when one officer knocked on the doorframe and announced his presence.
According to police, after he was asked to step outside to talk, Harden told the officers he was charging his bracelet and that he wasn't going with them.
The male officer then began to get his handcuffs, telling Harden he was going to be placed under arrest.
At this point, Harden grabbed something off his desk and moved quickly towards the male officer, allegedly attacking his head and neck area repeatedly with what the officers said was a knife.
A brief struggle ensued, in which the report stated, "Both officers believed Mr. Harden was going to kill the male police officer."
The female officer fired two shots from her department-issued weapon, striking Harden on his left side.
At 6:17 p.m., the male officer put out a call for shots fired over the radio. Within 30 seconds, he called again for an ambulance.
The first police officer to arrive after the call was a sergeant who found the two original officers with their weapons drawn and pointed in the direction of the bedroom, according to the report.
The sergeant told investigators that he found Harden lying on the bedroom floor just inside the doorway, on his belly.
Officers then handcuffed him and gave him medical aid until EMS arrived at around 6:25 p.m. and asked that he be uncuffed, the report states.
While moving him, the report continues, one officer found a stainless steel knife with a black handle next to him. The knife was described elsewhere in the report as a "steak knife."
Harden was pronounced dead at 6:51 p.m.
The report notes that investigators interviewed around 20 civilian and law enforcement witnesses.
It concludes that Fall River Police lawfully entered the home to arrest Harden, and that the female police officer reasonably believed that the male officer's life was in jeopardy.
Therefore, the report ends, "there is no basis to conclude that either Fall River Police Officer committed a crime," describing the fatal shooting as "justified" and the result of Harden's own actions.