Officer is currently on paid injury leave

11/12/2004 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- The officer who fired a pepper-spray pellet that killed a woman in a raucous crowd of Boston Red Sox fans was aiming at another fan but missed, police said Friday.

Police on Friday also identified the shooter, officer Rochefort Milien.

In an update of its investigation into the death of Victoria Snelgrove, police said Milien fired his pepper-spray pellet gun at a fan during an Oct. 21 disturbance but missed. The shot hit Snelgrove in the eye, fatally injuring her.

"Victoria Snelgrove was not targeted; she was struck when the projectile missed its intended target," the statement said.

Milien is on paid injury leave from the department, a person close to the investigation told The Associated Press.

Snelgrove, a 21-year-old Emerson College student, was among thousands of fans who flocked to Kenmore Square and Fenway Park to celebrate when the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees for the American League pennant.

Messages left for police union officials were not immediately returned Friday night. Attempts to find a telephone number for Milien were unsuccessful.

The investigation indicates at least four people were hit by the projectiles, including Snelgrove. Milien, a grenadier assigned to the police Special Operations unit, is certified to train officers on the use of the weapon.

Police spokesman David Estrada said there would be no police comment beyond the statement.

Deputy superintendent Robert E. O'Toole Jr. authorized the use of the pellet gun known as the FN303, which is made by FN Herstal. He fired the weapons at specific individuals, as did officers Samil Silta and Milien. Milien was 25 to 30 feet away from Snelgrove when he shot her.

On Friday, The Boston Globe reported O'Toole was not certified to use the FN303. O'Toole's lawyer has said he was certified and "eminently qualified" to use the weapon.

The police department purchased the FN303 guns to assist with controlling protests during the Democratic National Convention last summer but had not used them in crowd-control situations outside training before the Fenway Park shootings.

Police officials have since suspended their use pending the outcome of the investigation.