Paragraph 11 reads: "The tests also revealed the presence of Paxil, an antidepressant, and Adderall, a stimulant that is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, Cruz said." 

Officers cleared in a shooting

Plymouth clash killed 16-year-old

By Jonathan Saltzman and Janice Nickerson, Globe Correspondent 

PLYMOUTH -- Two police officers were justified in fatally shooting a 16-year-old suspected of burglary, because they feared he was trying to run them over after a high-speed chase, the Plymouth district attorney, Timothy J. Cruz, said yesterday.

After a six-week investigation by his office and 10 to 15 State Police investigators, Cruz said the two Plymouth officers had used deadly force appropriately on Jan. 10 when they fired 11 bullets at the suspect, Anthony W. McGrath, two of which killed him.

''We have determined that this was a lawful shooting," said Cruz.

''That being said, the death of a 16-year-old is a tragedy by any standard," Cruz said, while standing next to Plymouth Police Chief Robert J. Pomeroy at the district attorney's Brockton office. ''This situation could have and should have ended a number of times before the fatal shots were fired.

''Unfortunately, Anthony McGrath chose to continue and escalate the situation, and his actions ultimately put these officers in a position where they were threatened with serious physical harm," Cruz added

McGrath's grandfather, Roy McGrath, who previously accused the officers of being too quick to shoot, said he was not surprised that the district attorney had cleared them. ''It came out as I expected," he said in a brief interview at Anthony's McGrath's home on Water Street.

Just after the shooting, McGrath's mother, Denise McGrath, called it an unwarranted ''death sentence." She was not home yesterday afternoon, and a relative said she was not ready to speak with reporters.

For the first time, Cruz yesterday identified the officers involved in the shooting as Edwin Almeida, 50, a Plymouth officer for 18 years, and Richard Tavares, 39, a 17-year police veteran.

Both have been on paid administrative leave since the shootings. They were informed Wednesday that the investigation had cleared them, Pomeroy said. He added that the officers, who are expected to return to duty soon, were relieved to have been cleared of any wrongdoing, but were still shaken by the shooting.

Cruz also said for the first time that McGrath -- who had had brushes with the law and had been skipping classes at Plymouth North High School -- had a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 percent at the time, according to tests.

The tests also revealed the presence of Paxil, an antidepressant, and Adderall, a stimulant that is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, Cruz said.

The shooting occurred minutes after Almeida responded to an alarm at a liquor store on North Park Avenue, at 3:18 a.m., Cruz said. When Almeida reached a nearby intersection, he saw a red ToyotaCamry drive toward him and go through a red light.

Almeida began pursuing the Camry, turning on his flashing blue lights, then his flashing headlights, and then his siren.

Tavares, who was in the area in a separate cruiser, joined the chase, Cruz said. The officers pursued the Camry at speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour on Water Street, but the Toyota failed to handle a curve and struck a stone wall.

After the crash, the officers stopped their cruisers on each side of the rear of the Camry, and got out of their cars, Cruz said.

Drawing his firearm, Almeida, approached the driver's side, and told McGrath to shut off the engine, raise his hands, and get out of the car. Tavares approached the passenger side, and drew his gun, according to the account.

Suddenly, Cruz said, McGrath revved the engine and put the vehicle into reverse, ramming one of the cruisers, pushing through the gap between the police cars, and slamming into a utility pole. Then, with the officers facing the Camry head-on, the driver paused four or five seconds, and sped toward them.

Tavares fired four shots from his service pistol; two struck the windshield and two shattered the passenger-side window and struck McGrath, Cruz said. Almeida fired seven shots.

McGrath was taken to Jordan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 5 a.m. He died from a gunshot that entered his upper back and that perforated his right lung and his heart, an autopsy found.

Yesterday, where McGrath had been shot, there was still a simple wooden crucifix, adorned with red silk roses.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at []