Former corrections officer charged in death of patient at secure psychiatric unit

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Matthew Millar (Courtesy)

CONCORD - A former state Corrections Officer was arrested and charged today with second-degree murder in the death of a patient at the Secure Psychiatric Unit in Concord last April.

Matthew Millar, 39, of Boscawen, who is accused of suffocating Jason Rothe, 50. is charged with one count of second degree murder. He is accused of recklessly causing the death of Rothe "by using his arms and/or legs to apply force and pressure to Mr. Rothe's torso and/or neck, thereby causing his death by combined traumatic (compressional) and positional asphyxiation," according to a statement sent from the Attorney Generals Office.

An affidavit alleges that on April 29, 2023, six corrections officers in the Secure Psychiatric Unit of the Department of Corrections engaged in a use of force incident that resulted in the death of Rothe, a patient at the facility.

At this time, the Attorney General's Office does not anticipate bringing criminal charges against any of the other corrections officers involved in this incident.

Shortly after Rothe's death, New Hampshire State Police in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Justice conducted an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the deadly incident.

In October Dr. Mitchell Weinberg of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Jason Rothe's manner of death was homicide and that the cause of death was combined traumatic (compressional) and positional asphyxiation.

The investigation produced evidence that Millar applied downward pressure with his knee and arms onto Rothe's torso/neck area for several minutes while Rothe was hand-cuffed and face down on the floor, contrary to DOC's use-of-force protocols and training.

Millar received training on asphyxia and use of force which detailed the risk of death inherent with the specific manner of restraint he applied.

"The decision to bring a charge of this nature for on duty conduct by a law enforcement officer was not made lightly, but was based on a careful and thorough review of the facts and the law," said Attorney General John M. Formella. "The charge in this incident represents allegations against one specific individual. It should in no way be taken as a reflection on the behavior or overall professionalism of the hardworking men and women at the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, particularly those who provide care and security to patients at the Secure Psychiatric Unit."

An arraignment is anticipated this afternoon at Concord Circuit Court.

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