- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The police shooting death of an autistic teenager who had led officers on a chase in a stolen luxury car before pointing a weapon at them and asking to be killed was justified, the state’s attorney general has ruled.

Nineteen-year-old Lane Lesko, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died of a gunshot wound June 21 in Peterborough.

In a report Wednesday, Attorney General Joseph Foster said Greenfield police Chief Brian Giammarino fired four shots at Lesko, hitting him once and killing him. Giammarino fired at Lesko after he pulled what appeared to be a handgun from the BMW and started shooting at police. The gun turned out to be a BB pistol.

“After Lesko armed himself, he walked away from the BMW and quickly moved toward Giammarino, who had his gun drawn,” the report said. “Lesko pointed his gun at Giammarino as he advanced on him, despite being told to drop the gun. Fearing for his life, and believing that Lesko’s handgun was a ‘real’ firearm, Giammarino fired four shots at Lesko.”

Lesko, who struggled with mental illness, had a few days earlier run away from a wildlife treatment program run by Summit Achievement while on a camping outing to Lake Umbagog, located in Maine and New Hampshire. He stole a car in Maine and made his way to New Hampshire, where he stole a tow truck in Milford and the BMW in Nashua while on a test drive, Foster wrote.

Giammarino, alerted to an armed robbery, spotted the BMW and tried to pull Lesko over. Lesko refused to stop, and police laid down spikes, forcing Lesko off the road near a farm in Peterborough. Lesko refused orders to put his hands up and step away from the car, Foster said.

“Instead, Lesko began yelling at the officers to shoot him and kill him,” the report said, before taking the BB pistol from the car and firing at police.

Lesko’s mother, Patricia Lesko, said she had several outstanding questions after being briefed by the attorney general’s office on the report. She questioned whether police took enough time to assess her son’s mental state ahead of the shooting and whether her son heard commands to drop his weapon and step away from a car.

“It’s their conclusion, but certainly we’ve seen in New Hampshire that the attorney general’s conclusions have been repeatedly found to be faulty,” she said. “His investigations have been found to contain significant errors and omissions.”

Lane Lesko had had several run-ins with the law, which his mother blamed on his mental illness. Since last year, he was accused of stealing a car from a Michigan dealership after claiming he was an FBI agent and then crashing it in Toledo. He also was accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home and impersonating a law enforcement officer on several occasions.

In the Toledo-related case, he pleaded guilty to unlawfully driving away a vehicle, home invasion, lying to a police officer and false pretenses less than $200. But the Michigan judge in the case delayed his sentence until 2017 so he could complete mental health treatment.

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