The Hartford police officer had just heard the metallic sound of an armed suspect “racking” his rifle and saw him raise it toward police trying to arrest him when she fired a single shot with her own rifle that ended the incident and the suspect’s life.
State Inspector General Robert Devlin has ruled that decision by Officer Ashley Martinez in killing Shamar Ogman in December 2020 was justified to save her life and those of the other officers.
“He’s pointing it!” Martinez is quoted in Devlin’s report as saying of Ogman, who was crouched behind a trash dumpster in a Gilman Street parking lot. “Seeing that the suspect was still aiming his rifle at the officers, having heard the rifle ‘racked’ by the suspect and the fighting position he had placed himself in, I believed that once again the suspect was going to shoot and kill or possibly severely injure others on the scene.”
Devlin, appointed last fall to investigate all cases of police employing potentially deadly force, said the then-26-year-old officer fired after Ogman ignored repeated warnings to drop the gun while screaming that he wanted police to kill him.
“Officer Martinez used deadly force to defend other officers from what she reasonably believed to be the imminent use of deadly force against them,” Devlin wrote in his 36-page report. “Accordingly, I find such use of force to be objectively reasonable and justified.”
Police had responded to several 911 calls, including from relatives, that Ogman was in an agitated, despondent state while walking down the street carrying an assault-type rifle and a handgun.
Ogman, 30, who was living on Gilman Street with a woman and their 14-month-old child, had a record of weapon arrests and convictions, including an arrest just three days before the Dec. 26 incident that led to him wearing an ankle bracelet monitor.
“Ogman had concerns about going back to jail,” Devlin wrote, and had been fired several days earlier from his job at an area supermarket.
Witnesses told investigators that Ogman had received a phone call that night that upset him, and soon after went into the street carrying the guns.
One witness said he tried to take the guns away, but was told by Ogman: “Don’t do that, big dog. It’s better if I’m not here. I’d rather them kill me than kill myself. I’m not going back to jail.”
Several officers and a police K9 had responded and tracked Ogman as he ran through the neighborhood trying to elude them.
Police later learned that the weapons Ogman was carrying were in fact replicas that were not capable of firing, despite that he was also carrying a magazine loaded with five bullets.
Devlin said Martinez and the other officers could not have known that at the time of the incident, “given the nighttime conditions, Ogman’s movements, and the distance between the HPD Officers and Ogman…particularly since multiple officers heard Ogman ‘racking’ the gun.”
Devlin, a former federal prosecutor and state judge, was appointed by the state Criminal Justice Commission last October in the aftermath of the 2020 murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, which prompted a national call for stricter controls on how police subdue suspects and use deadly force.
The Ogman case is the third time he has cleared police of any wrongdoing since taking office.
He also has charged a state police trooper with manslaughter in the 2020 shooting death of a carjacking suspect armed with a knife in West Haven, ruling that the trooper acted criminally because “neither he nor any other person was in imminent danger of serious injury or death from a knife attack,” during the confrontation.
That case is pending.