By John Toole
---- — SALEM – Everyone agrees three police officers shot and wounded a Pelham man early one morning last month.
Beyond that, there is apparent disagreement over the circumstances leading up to the shooting and perhaps even where 21-year-old Grant Hebert was when shot.
Hebert was in 10th Circuit Court yesterday for a probable cause hearing.
Judge Robert Stephen found probable cause for Hebert to stand trial on felony charges that include attempted first degree assault, reckless conduct placing another in danger, disobeying an officer, driving under the influence and aggravated driving while intoxicated.
Windham police Officer Shane Mirisola testified yesterday he fired toward the driver’s side of the windshield.
But defense attorney Raymond Mello of Nashua said his client suffered gunshot wounds to the back of his leg.
The extent of Hebert’s injuries remains unclear. Dressed in a suit, he attended yesterday’s hearing and appeared to walk through the courtroom without trouble.
Mirisola testified he fired his gun, as did Windham Officer Chris Van Hirtum and Pelham Master Patrolman Eugene Stahl, while trying to stop Hebert in the early morning hours Oct. 28 on Lowell Road in Windham.
The pursuit began after an attempted traffic stop in Pelham. Police allege Hebert rammed Windham and Pelham police cruisers while trying to elude officers at about 1:30 a.m.
Mirisola said officers left their cruisers to order Hebert to halt as he drove a Hyundai Tiburon across a field.
Several times they yelled for Hebert to stop, he said, but the car crashed into a steel gate they stood behind.
“I discharged my firearm to attempt to stop the vehicle,” Mirisola said. “It was coming toward myself and Officer Van Hirtum.”
Mirosola said he had to dive out of the way of the car.
“I jumped high enough so the hood went under me,” he said.
Mirisola, the only one of the officers involved in the shooting to testify yesterday, diagrammed the incident on a white board.
Mello’s questioning of Mirisola revealed the defense is skeptical about the officers’ account of the shooting.
“Mr. Hebert’s injuries are not on the front of his body,” Mello said.
After the hearing, Mello said the injuries do not necessarily match up with Mirisola’s testimony and it will cause the defense to closely examine the evidence.
He asked Mirisola about Hebert’s injuries.
“I asked him where his wounds were and he said, ‘Everywhere,’’’ Mirisola testified.
The officers saw what appeared to be wounds to the lower back and left shoulder, he said.
Mello challenged the prosecution’s assertion that Hebert “knowingly” drove at officers. Mirisola acknowledged he didn’t know whether the car windows were open so Hebert could hear their shouts.
But Windham police prosecutor Heather Newell pointed out it would be hard for Hebert to have failed to notice the flashing lights on the police cruisers.
Stephen said the prosecution may have some work to prove the “knowingly” aspect of the charge, but the degree of recklessness seemed more probable than not and the case should move to Superior Court.
The Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the shooting. Last week, Associate Attorney General Jane Young said the review could take another two weeks to complete.
Windham police Capt. Mike Caron said the police department has completed its own review of the actions of Mirisola and Van Hirtum. The department’s review concluded they properly followed policies and both have returned to active duty.
Last week, Pelham Chief Joseph Roark said Stahl was on active duty.
Hebert has been out on bail; his mother last week said he was home recovering from his wounds. He is a student at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.
Newell dropped misdemeanor criminal mischief charges, though Rockingham County prosecutors could revisit those through the grand jury process.