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  • Staff photo by DON HIMSEL Retiring Nashua Police Chief Donald Conley has been with the department for 31 years.
  • Attorney General Michael Delaney, center, gives a press conference Tuesday, May 1, on the April Greenland police shooting.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Former Nashua police chief to head review of Greenland shooting

CONCORD – Newly retired Nashua Police Chief Don Conley will head up an independent review of last month’s drug bust in which Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney was killed and four other officers were injured.

Attorney General Michael Delaney named the panel Tuesday and stressed its mission is not to assess blame but to evaluate the actions on the scene of the AG’s drug task force and officers from area police departments.

The goal is to assess what went well and learn any lessons from the incident to preserve the safety of officers responding to similar violent threats, Delaney said.

“There is an obligation, in light of this reality, to do everything we can to protect law enforcement going forward,” Delaney said.

Conley is a 32-year law enforcement veteran and viewed as ideal for this assignment because his extensive experience included working as an undercover officer and later supervisor of the city’s narcotics unit that worked closely with the AG’s task force.

Within 90 minutes of shots breaking out in Greenland on April 12, tactical officers at the scene called for and received a SWAT team vehicle from Nashua.

The AG picked another local law enforcement executive to the five-person review committee: William Pease, who retired in 2005 after a 22-year career that ended with the rank of captain in the Hudson Police Department.

Pease guided the town’s Police Department to its initial accreditation award in 2003 and for several years served as commander of the crisis negotiations unit for the Southern New Hampshire Regional Swat Team.

Later, Pease worked as accreditation manager for the Nashua Police Department.

Delaney said with the review now ongoing, it would not be appropriate for Conley or anyone on the review team to publicly comment about it.

During two press conferences, Delaney revealed new details of what led to Maloney’s tragic death.

Originally, two Greenland uniformed officers were at the home of Cullen Mutrie to execute a search warrant to confirm the sale of oxycodone by Mutrie and his accused drug-dealing accomplice, Brittany Tibbetts, at Mutrie’s 517 Post Road home.

Court documents had already revealed Maloney’s department had undercover evidence that Mutrie was engaged in a broad illegal pill-selling ring from his residence.

Maloney had told associates that one of his last goals before he would retire eight days after the fateful shooting was to bring Mutrie to justice.

The Greenland officers on the scene believed Mutrie to be home but neither he nor his girlfriend Tibbetts, answered the door, Delaney said.

He said the two officers called in for back-up and the task force responded with six investigators.

At the same time, Maloney arrived and parked his cruiser out on the street in front of Mutrie’s front door.

The two local cops left the front porch and the drug force team replaced them and got no response from the home.

It was only after the drug task force unit forced its way into the building that Mutrie fired from inside his home and hit four officers, wounding two seriously.

The two most badly hurt were wearing bulletproof vests, but Mutrie’s shots struck them above the chest protector and below the armored-ware officers had on their necks and heads, Delaney said.

Maloney and one of the Greenland officers pulled the two seriously hit officers to safety.

“The one Greenland officer and Chief Maloney took heroic effort to assist the wounded officers,” Delaney said.

After a lull in the shooting, Maloney took a secure position behind the front driver side wheel of his cruiser, peering over the hood into the building.

It was at that point, gunfire erupted again and Mutrie shot Maloney in the head instantly killing him, Delaney said.

Hours later, Mutrie was found dead in the home after shooting his girlfriend and then himself, police have said.

Delaney announced the review committee a day after House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, called for an independent probe to help the community have closure.

O’Brien served on a police commission in his hometown, and for several years in the mid-1990s, he represented the Boston Patrolmen’s Association as a partner in a Boston law firm with ex-Mass. House Speaker Thomas Finneran.

University of New Hampshire Police Chief Paul Dean praised Delaney’s decision.

UNH Detective Eric Kulberg was one of four members of the Delaney’s task force who were shot and expected to make a full recovery.

Other members of the Delaney-named review committee are: Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin; Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier; and Steve Roberts, a lawyer from Portsmouth and former part-time judge who spent nine years on the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council.

The committee charge is to review what led up to obtaining the Mutrie warrant, find out whether the actions of all law enforcement at the Mutrie home complied with drug task force policies and procedures and examine the level of training for those involved in the response.

The report may have recommendations, and Delaney said there is as yet no timetable for when it is to be completed in writing and publicly released.

The last time actions of drug task force members were analyzed was seven years ago, when Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams was assigned to investigate several St. Patrick’s Day 2004 brawls involving former off-duty members.

In a 212-page report, Reams reported several task force members first brawled at Paddy’s Restaurant at Pease International Tradeport, then again early the next morning at Gilley’s PM Lunch hot dog stand.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Landrigan on Twitter (@KLandrigan) on Twitter.