Nashua officer-involved shooting ruled ‘legally justified’

NASHUA — Officer James Ciulla was “legally justified” in his use of potentially deadly force in the June 26 shooting of Justin Contreras, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office announced today.

Shortly after 10 p.m. June 26, Ciulla, along with officers Guido Marchionda and Kyle Crosson responded to 106 Ledge St. for a welfare check on a suicidal male, reports said.

Ciulla encountered Contreras, 29, allegedly holding a revolver, in a stairwell of the home. The revolver was unloaded, but this was unknown to Ciulla at the time, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. Ciulla allegedly told Contreras to “drop the gun” at least twice.

When he refused, Ciulla fired his own weapon at Contreras, hitting him once in his lower right arm and once in his torso, near the collarbone. Neither of the other two officers discharged his weapon at the scene.

Contreras survived and was transported to the hospital for treatment.

Police said Contreras made comments “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want to live anymore,'” and that he “just wanted you guys to kill me,” after an alleged breakup.

After his release from the hospital, Contreras was arrested on a warrant July 2 at a traffic stop, according to police.

He was indicted on a single felony count of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon. The indictment, which the grand jury for the August term of Hillsborough County Superior Court-South handed up Thursday, accuses Contreras of “purposely placing Nashua Police officer James Ciulla in fear of imminent bodily injury by pointing a handgun” at him.

Ciulla’s shooting of Contreras constitutes the use of deadly force under the law even though Contreras survived, the AG office said, requiring an investigation between its office and the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit.

A review of evidence determined the use of force was justified.

Because there are currently charges pending against Contreras, the office “is unable to release further information about its investigation at this time,” according to the release.

However, once the legal proceedings have concluded, the office will “issue its full report on the investigation into officer Ciulla’s use of deadly force, with the associated findings and reasoning behind the determination made.”

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or