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Decorated town officer cleared after shooting bank-robbery suspect in 2014

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UPDATED, July 8: Eighteen months ago, Officer Michael Foley, a decorated veteran of the force, was hospitalized after firing his service weapon at an alleged gun-wielding bank robbery suspect.

On Tuesday, July 7, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and State Police assigned to that office announced their conclusion of the investigation into the nonfatal shooting of James F. Riley, 36, of Quincy, on Jan. 17, 2014.

Officer Foley fired only after Riley assaulted him with a handgun, the DA's conclusion said in a news release.

The standard for use of deadly force in Massachusetts is that a person may use deadly force to defend him or herself or another if the person has reasonable ground to believe, and actually believes, that he or she is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and that no other means would suffice to prevent such harm, the release says.

The actions of Arlington Officer Michael Foley, who was in uniform, in discharging his weapon at James Riley and striking him were justified in the exercise of self-defense and/or defense of another. Under the circumstances Officer Foley acted reasonably and lawfully. Therefore, no criminal charges are warranted,” Ryan said.
This matter has been referred to the Arlington Police Department for whatever internal review may be deemed appropriate. Town police have declined to comment.

To review the DA's full statement, click here >> 

Following the bank robbery, Chief Fred Ryan issued a statement, saying, "Officer Foley, in fear for his safety and the safety of his fellow officers, acted bravely when he faced down a dangerous felon on Friday afternoon [Jan. 17, 2014]. I am proud of him, acknowledging the difficulty that goes into making such a split-second decision."

Chief Ryan said the next day that two investigations were continuing. Two days later, he added that, as per standard departmental procedure in the event of an officer-involved shooting, Foley was placed on administrative duties while the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office investigates the shooting.

On Jan. 17, gunfire popped near the Hardy School, as police tracked two armed men who allegedly had robbed the Leader Bank branch at 141 Mass. Ave. at 2:40 p.m. that day.

Besides Riley, the second suspect, Shawn T. Bambushew, 25, of Everett, was held following his arraignment until Feb. 20 for a probable-cause hearing on $250,000 cash bail. If bail is posted he will be also be going on a GPS monitoring bracelet. The other was arraigned later.

DA Ryan said Riley remains under indictment in Middlesex Superior Court and charged with two counts of unarmed robbery and assault by means of a dangerous weapon on Foley. Bambushew also remains under indictment and charged with two counts of unarmed robbery and resisting arrest.

Ballistics evidence showed that Officer Foley had discharged 11 rounds in the shooting from his department issued firearm. Ambulance records indicate that Riley was struck by two bullets.

As to Foley, the officer was given a letter and certificate of commendation in 2009. On Feb. 2, 2009, he was part of a team of officers who arrested an armed suspect who was reportedly threatening his neighbors with a 9mm handgun.

In 2013, Foley was also credited with identifying a reckless motorcyclist who had fled from many police departments over a period of several weeks. He chased him after he was seen pulling out of a bank in Arlington.

The motorcyclist eluded chase, Chief Ryan said, but Foley "smartly went into the bank and was able to pull the identification of the suspect from a banking transaction he had conducted inside. These actions directly let to the arrest of a 29-year-old Somerset man."

"Officials at the Leader Bank have been extremely helpful to our investigation and we are very happy that none of them were injured."


Jan. 17, 2015: 2 probes: Town police eye bank robbery; DA shooting


This report was published Tuesday, July 7, 2015, and updated July 8, as police declined to comment.

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