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Internal PPD probe into Miguel Estrella shooting expected to wrap by month's end

People attend a rally (copy)

Friends, family and supporters gather in front of City Hall in Pittsfield earlier this month as part of a march and rally in support of Miguel Estrella, who was shot and killed by city police late last month. The Pittsfield police investigation into the fatal shooting is expected to be completed by the end of April, when it will be provided to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. 

PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield police investigation into the fatal shooting of Miguel Estrella is expected to be completed by the end of April, when police will share it with the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, according to the police chief.

Internal investigations surrounding lethal force have two phases, said Police Chief Michael Wynn.

“We’re wrapping up the preliminary now,” he said Monday, “and I expect the full report by the end of the month.”

The report will delve into details gleaned during the internal PPD probe into events on the evening of March 25, when police said a still unidentified officer shot 22-year-old Estrella outside of his Onota Street apartment building.

The officer was responding to a second emergency call, after Estrella declined medical assistance during a first call, only minutes before, and had been intentionally cutting himself with a knife during an apparent mental health crisis.

Pittsfield police said the officer shot Estrella after attempts failed to disable him with Tasers. Eyewitnesses said Estrella was holding a knife, and did not follow commands from police to disarm himself.

Wynn said that when the internal police investigation wraps up, the department will provide its reports to the office of Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, which is overseeing a separate investigation into the fatal police shooting. The shooting led to two officers being placed on administrative leave.

Internal Pittsfield police reports about the Estrella shooting won’t be disclosed publicly until the DA’s investigation is completed, according to Wynn.

“We can’t allow disclosure of our investigative reports to impact their ongoing investigation,” he said.

Family and those close to Estrella have called on authorities to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting. Wynn said Monday his department has coordinated with the DA’s office, and is “working to include” the identity of the officers in a forthcoming update. He did not say when that might occur.

The internal PPD investigation into Estrella’s shooting is proceeding under the department’s “policy and procedure for serious use of force investigations resulting in injury or death,” according to Wynn.

Unlike many other department practices, Wynn said the policy in question is “exempt from dissemination because it includes operational and investigative procedures that could negatively impact an investigation.”

“We’re operating under that policy currently,” he said in an email Monday.

Previous to Estrella, the last fatal shooting by a Pittsfield police officer occurred in 2017 after officers responded to reports that Daniel Gillis was threatening to harm himself.

Former Berkshire DA David Capeless cleared the officer who shot Gillis, Christopher Colello, of criminal behavior the following January, after an investigation into the case.

DA Harrington’s office has pledged to provide the first briefing on the probe’s finding to members of the Estrella family, once available, according to the last update she disseminated about her office’s investigation, on April 12.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6296.

Cops and Courts Reporter

Amanda Burke is Cops and Courts Reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. An Ithaca, New York native, she previously worked at The Herald News of Fall River and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.

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