LAMOINE —A state police tactical team member who fatally shot an armed man who’d just killed his father and uncle met the legal requirements for use of deadly force, even though he never told the man to drop his weapon in the fast-paced sequence of events, the attorney general’s office said Friday.
Detective Randall Keaten opened fire, without time for voice commands, when he encountered Leon Tilden running down a trail, possibly attempting to flank other members of the tactical team, after the shootings early on Oct. 23, according to a report by the attorney general.
The report described chaotic moments after the 27-year-old Tilden shot his father and his uncle, whose bodies were found outside his father’s home.
Tilden was eventually spotted, armed with a shotgun and running into the woods, as law enforcement officials searched for him. When he was shot, he was holding the shotgun and he had a handgun with several loaded magazines; a sawed-off shotgun also was found nearby on the ground, the report said.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department called for reinforcements after receiving the 911 call, finding the bodies on the ground, and failing to locate Tilden. His father, Robert Tilden, and his uncle, Russell Pinkham, both 50, died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the state medical examiner.
Tactical team members were aware that the younger Tilden had been arrested previously for terrorizing and that he’d once expressed a desire to engage in a shootout with police, the report said.
While searching the property, Tilden was seen running from his behind his parents’ house into the woods, where moments later he ran past Keaten’s position in the direction of other tactical team members, the report said.
Keaten quickly fired several rounds from his rifle; Tilden was airlifted to a hospital, where he died.
Attorney General William J. Schneider said Keaten met the legal requirement for using deadly force under Maine law because he had reason to fear imminent use of deadly force against himself or others and that lethal force was necessary to end the threat.
Now that the report has been released, a state police panel will be convened to conduct an internal review, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Keaten, who’d been on paid leave, returned to work in November, McCausland said.