EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 4, 2012

Salem man loses leg, then his freedom

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BRENTWOOD — First, Larry Minassian lost his leg. Now, he’s lost his freedom for years.

It’s all because he threatened Salem police officers with a Samurai-style knife. The officers shot him in the torso, hip and left leg, which later had to be amputated.

Yesterday, a Rockingham Superior Court jury found the 53-year-old Salem man guilty of reckless conduct and criminal threatening for charging officers with the foot-long knife outside his South Policy Street home on Jan. 6, 2011.

The jury deliberated for nearly two hours before reaching its decision following two days of testimony from several police officers who said they feared for their lives that cold winter day. New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney later ruled the shooting was justified.

That wasn’t Minassian’s first run-in with police. He recently served a six-month suspended jail sentence for assaulting a Salem officer in 2008. He was also charged with kicking out a Salem police cruiser’s window in 2009.

Local law enforcement officials, including Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten and Rockingham County Attorney James Reams, praised the jury’s decision.

“We are happy with the verdict,” Patten said. “The officers at the scene acted admirably and courageously in a life-threatening situation.”

Reams agreed.

“I think one of the lessons is that there is no excuse for trying to attack police officers with weapons,” Reams said. “I think the officers reacted with great restraint when confronted by Mr. Minassian.”

Minassian faces three and half to seven years in state prison for each of the two felony charges. His sentencing before Judge Kenneth McHugh has not been scheduled, Reams said.

Sgt. Joel Dolan, Detective Eric Tine and Officer Michael White fired at Minassian after he sprinted toward them with the knife above his head, screaming and refusing commands to stop, the attorney general’s report said.

Minassian called 911 at 10:37 a.m. that day and threatened suicide. Patrolman Ryan Sambataro, who was working a traffic detail down the street, arrived to find Minassian in his front yard.

Minassian held a Bible in one hand and the knife in the other. He pointed the knife’s tip at his own stomach.

Minassian told Sambataro he had lost his “faith” and threw the Bible to the ground. He said the FBI was after him and trying to frame him for selling drugs out of his house. A second long knife was tucked into his waistband.

Minassiann continued to talk about the FBI, saying “Today is the day.”

A neighbor tried to help, but to no avail. Capt. James Chase tried to negotiate with Minassian, who then charged the officers. T

hey shot and he fell to the ground, only eight feet away from the officers.

Minassian was hospitalized and his leg amputated.

Minassian was represented by attorney Richard Sheehan, who was unavailable for comment after yesterday’s verdict.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant County Attorney Benjamin LeDuc.