MANCHESTER, NH — An 18-year-old city man is being held without bail, accused of stabbing three police officers, two who remain hospitalized after suffering collapsed lungs from puncture wounds.
Akwasi Owusu of 6 Ahern St. was arraigned in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District Wednesday afternoon on three counts of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. About 40 Manchester police officers attending the hearing.
He is accused of stabbing officers Brendan Langton, 26, Olivia LaCroix, 26, and Kevin Shields, 32. If convicted on the felony charges, Owusu faces an extended sentence of 10 to 20 years per count in the New Hampshire State Prison. Not guilty pleas were entered to the charges.
According to court documents, Langton and LaCroix both suffered puncture wounds to the right sides, resulting in collapsed lungs.
They remain hospitalized and one of them will need to undergo surgery, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Amy Manchester told Judge Amy Messer. Manchester did not identify that officer by name.
Shields sustained a one-inch laceration to the forehead which required three stitches to close and was released from the hospital.
Manchester, in arguing that Owusu should be preventatively detained, said that the knife went through the officers’ uniforms and protective vests, indicative of the amount of force Owusu allegedly used.
She said if stabbing three police officers, two of them suffering collapsed lungs, is not definitive of a dangerous act and the need for preventive detention “then I’m not sure what is.”
The incident happened about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday when officers were called to a domestic incident at Owusu’s home. As they were heading there, dispatch was informed of an incident two days earlier when Owusu allegedly choked his older sister, Patricia Nyantakyi, 25. A second caller told dispatch that the older brother was now on scene and Owusu was attacking him and attempting to vandalize his vehicle.
The officers located Owusu in a bedroom where he was lying on a mattress.
Shields ordered the teen repeatedly to show both his hands. Police said Owusu concealed his left hand down by his side.
After he repeatedly refused to comply with the officer’s order, the officers attempted to arrest him. Owusu, however, became “aggressive” and the officers used the Taser. That proved unsuccessful and a struggle took place.
As they struggled, Shields saw the small knife in Owusu’s hand. Owusu swung it around, injuring the three officers, police said.
The incident was recorded on the officers’ body cameras but Chief Carlo Capano said he will be speaking with the department’s attorneys to determine if the footage will be publicly released.
He said the recordings show the officers doing exactly what they should.
Public Defender Jillian Rizzo asked that Owusu be referred for a mental health evaluation at the Elliot Hospital and, if warranted, be committed to the New Hampshire State Hospital or some other facility for treatment. She said he seemed confused, did not understand the proceedings or her role in it. She argued that he would not get the care he needs if detained in the Valley Street jail.
She also said that as far as she knew, Owusu did not have a criminal record nor did he have a history of violence.
Manchester said it was her understanding that at Valley Street Owusu would be evaluated and a determination would be made if he required mental health treatment elsewhere.
Owusu also pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault accusing him of choking his sister and simple assault alleging he punched her in the head and face. The alleged assaults happened after the siblings argued about Nyantakyi’s car. On the night of Feb. 3, Owusu and his friends allegedly tried to take her car. Nyantakyi confronted him the following day and she told police he punched her in the face and then jumped on her and started choking her.
Joana Nyantakyi, 23, heard the commotion and went into the bedroom and started hitting Owusu in the back with a belt to try and get him off her sister. Owusu let go and Patricia was able to leave.
After the hearing, Capano said he was pleased that Owusu is being detained.
“That is exactly what needed to happen,” he said. “He is without a doubt a risk to the community. Clearly he showed complete disregard for human safety, not only against the officers but what was happening with his family as well. I think the judge absolutely did the right thing here.”
Capano said the officers who remain at the hospital are in “good spirits” and are expected to recover.
“This was just a violent attack on these officers,” he said.