PORTLAND — A Portland man accused of causing a tense police standoff in the city’s Bayside neighborhood earlier this week was asleep when police arrived and awoke to find his house surrounded by heavily armed officers, his attorney said in court Wednesday.
Kyle Upton, 28, stood in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court with his attorney, Gary Prolman, and denied the civil charge against him of creating a police standoff.
Upton also faces four criminal charges — domestic violence criminal threatening, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and three misdemeanors, domestic violence terrorizing, domestic violence assault and failure to sign a summons and complaint form to verify his identity.
Police said the standoff started around 3 p.m. Monday when officers went to an apartment building at 41 Alder St. to follow up on a woman’s domestic violence report and Upton refused to leave the second-floor apartment.
A prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Tice, said in court Wednesday that Upton is accused of threatening to choke his girlfriend and of hitting her in the head with a gun.
“She was very, very afraid of him,” Tice said.
In the statement the woman filed with police, she said that Upton had first told his male roommate to quiet her before he “grabbed (her) by the throat and shut (her) up.” She also said in the statement transcribed by police that Upton then left the room and came back with a handgun that he tapped against her head and said, “You see this, you see this.”
Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said Monday that the officers believed Upton was armed and retreated from the apartment building. Police shut down Alder Street between Portland and Kennebec streets, surrounded the apartment building and evacuated dozens of residents in the area from their homes.
Prolman said he was called to the scene of the police standoff and was there for hours trying to negotiate with police for Upton’s peaceful surrender.
“I was privy to see this all these things,” Prolman said in court. “We actually told police that he wanted to make sure that someone was there, like myself, and he was willing to surrender himself right then and there.”
Prolman said police had gone to the apartment while Upton was asleep. The door was open and unlocked but the officer left rather than go inside, he said.
“When Mr. Upton awoke, he awoke to a SWAT team outside his house,” he said.
Prolman said the woman had left the apartment about 24 hours before police arrived and that there was no evidence other than her word against Upton’s of an assault.
“There was no gun found at the scene. There were no pictures of bruises or shirt ripped up,” he said.
Prolman argued for bail to be set at $1,000 to allow Upton to be released and continue working at his full-time job.
Justice Nancy Mills instead set bail at the amount recommended by the prosecutor, $10,000 cash with conditions that Upton has no contact with the woman he is accused of assaulting and two other people, possesses no dangerous weapons and refrains from use of drugs and alcohol.
Tice had argued that Upton has a criminal history of violence in Massachusetts and that multiple protection from abuse orders had been filed against him by different women.
The judge also ordered Upton to abide by a curfew that would keep him at home from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. should he be released on bail.
Police searched the apartment after Upton surrendered and seized a pellet gun, machete, knife, throwing star, weapons safe and drug paraphernalia.
Upton’s boss from the construction company where he works and a small group of people appeared in court to support him. A few of the men wore black T-shirts with white lettering that said, “Keep America Free” on one line and “Dig ditches for snitches” below it.
Rick Magee, who made the T-shirts, said he was also at the scene of the standoff and had talked to Upton.
“He didn’t want to come out because he thought they were going to shoot him,” Magee said.
Magee said Upton moved to Maine from Massachusetts a year ago and hasn’t done anything wrong since.
“He came here to clean up his name. He hasn’t been in trouble,” Magee said.
The standoff with police lasted about 3½ hours, drawing a large crowd of spectators at the intersection of Alder, Portland and Oxford streets. The Portland Police Department’s Special Reaction Team also responded with members wearing body armor and carrying rifles. They also used the department’s Bearcat, which resembles a tank, and its Peacekeeper truck.
If found responsible of creating a police standoff, Upton could be ordered to pay restitution to each agency that responded to the standoff.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at