Union speaks out after judge lets man who stabbed Mass. trooper go by reason of insanity

Trooper Stephen Torosian was stabbed multiple times in the arm as he sat in his cruiser

By Erin Tiernan
Boston Herald

AMESBURY, Mass. — State troopers condemned a Lawrence Superior Court ruling that found a Melrose man charged with stabbing an on-duty state trooper two years not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect a "failure of justice ... plain and simple."

"This is a sad day for law enforcement, Trooper Torosian and the criminal justice system. Judge Jackie Cowin should be ashamed of this decision to allow a cold-blooded attempted murderer to go free," the State Police Association of Massachusetts wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Nathan Aguilar was arrested Dec. 12, 2019, after stabbing Trooper Stephen Torosian multiple times in the arm as he sat in his cruiser at a highway construction site in Amesbury.

The judge found Aguilar not guilty Wednesday due to lack of criminal responsibility following a half-day bench trial where two experts — one aligned with prosecutors and another hired by Aguilar's defense team — both concluded there was a lack of criminal responsibility, meaning Aguilar cannot distinguish right from wrong.

SPAM delivered a quick rebuke of the ruling.

"Nathan Aguilar planned his attack. He drove to a construction worksite. He parked behind Trooper Stephen Torosian. He put on clothing to make himself appear to be part of the work crew. Then he violently entered Trooper Torosian's cruiser and stabbed him. This was an unprovoked and planned ambush that resulted in the medical retirement of Trooper Torosian. How is this not premeditation?" the union said.

A then-18-year-old Aguilar pulled up in a gold minivan around noon on Dec. 12, 2019 and approached the driver's side door of the cruiser and brandished, state police said at the time.

Torosian was able to draw his pistol and fire a shot at Aguilar's chest, which paralyzed him from the neck down, and Torosian kicked the knife out of his grasp, according to state police.

Police said Aguilar was wearing a hat with a mask that covered his face, tan pants and a reflective vest.

Torosian sustained numerous cuts to his left arm and was treated at Lawrence General Hospital.

Aguilar was flown to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Torosian was one of a dozen police officers recently recognized by Gov. Charlie Baker and given the Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Awards for Bravery.

"His immediate actions most likely saved his life as well as those of the unsuspecting construction crew working only a few feet away from him," a state police statement issued the day of the awards ceremony read. "In addition, recognizing that the suspect had been wearing a high-visibility traffic vest during the assault like that of a construction worker, Trooper Torosian had the forethought to broadcast that description over the radio to alert other detail cruisers in the area in case this had been the start of a coordinated terrorist attack against law enforcement."

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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