BRENTWOOD — A Salem man was ordered to spend one to four years in jail after being found guilty of threatening police with a Samurai-style knife.
Larry Minassian, 53, charged officers with the foot-long knife on Jan. 6, 2011. Police responded by shooting Minassian in the torso, hip and left leg. His left leg eventually had to be amputated.
New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney ruled the shooting was justified.
Minassian was found guilty by a Rockingham Superior Court jury of reckless conduct and criminal threatening on Oct. 3. He was sentenced to jail for the criminal threatening charge. He received a two- to four-year suspended sentence on the reckless conduct charge.
Minassian has a history of conflicts with the Salem police. In 2008, he served a six-month suspended sentence for assaulting a police officer. He was also charged with kicking out a window in a police cruiser in 2009.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams said yesterday. “It was a extremely dangerous case to the police at the time. I hope everybody learns a lesson from this in how to interact with the police. (Minassian) could have ended up dead or maybe one of the officers could have. It could have had tragic results. We are lucky this didn’t end up worse.”
Minassian had called 911 threatening to commit suicide. Police found him standing in his front yard on South Policy Street. In one hand, Minassian held a bible and in the other he held the knife with the tip pointing into his own stomach.
Police attempted to negotiate with Minassian, but he told them he had “lost his faith” and the FBI was trying to frame him for selling drugs out of his house.
After refusing to listen to police orders to drop the weapon, Minassian charged at the police with the knife raised above his head. Police then shot him and he fell to the ground about eight feet in front of the officers.
Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said he was pleased with Minassian’s sentence.
“It was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved,” Patten said. “However, the officers performed admirably in the life-threatening situation. We are satisfied with the sentence.”
Salem Detective Michael White read a victim witness statement at the sentencing.
“It was a very heartfelt and powerful statement,” Patten said. “Minassian wasn’t the only person negatively affected. Several officers at the scene felt their lives were endangered and reacted accordingly. That has substantial impact on these officers. No officer wants to shoot anyone. We are trained and prepared for when these situations come up. You never really want to be in them though.”