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Friday August 1, 2014

Fourth in a four-part series: Read Part 1; Read Part 2; Read Part 3


    Five separate fatal shootings of mentally ill people by Maine police in 2011 prompted the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to examine law enforcement's use of deadly force. Since 1990, police have fired on 101 people, many of them mentally ill, and in every case the state attorney general ruled that the shooting was justified. The newspaper sought to find out why so many mentally ill Mainers were being shot and whether the outcomes were avoidable. The investigation, involving hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of documents, revealed that Maine and the rest of the country have failed to employ methods or invest in training that could defuse life-threatening situations with mentally impaired people.

    Today's stories
    Families mostly powerless when mentally ill adult resists help
    Legal protections make it difficult to force treatment, but one man's personal tragedy has led to changes.
    Read the story
    PDF: Amy Bruce's letter to her son Will

    Lives at stake, but inaction stalls chance to save them
    A new system in Maine evaluates deadly force incidents, but little is done to share the findings, and few lawmakers actually read the reports.
    Read the story


    The questions are basic, the answers are few
    Confidentiality laws and missing data block the public from informed views about shootings and accountability.
    Read the story




    James Popkowski
    Shot and killed by police July 8, 2010 outside Togus Veterans Center
    Read the story
    PDFs: Attorney General's report
    and
    Incident Review Team Report, ME Warden Service


    Paul Fritze
    Shot and killed by police Sept. 25, 2011 in Farmingdale
    Read the story
    PDFs: Attorney General's report
    and
    Critical Incident Review, Maine State Police


    Search the database: Police use of deadly force 1990-2012










The Attorney General's Office reviews all police shootings in Maine. In order to determine whether a shooting is justified, two questions are asked:

Did the officer reasonably believe that deadly force was about to be used against him or someone else?
Did the officer reasonably believe that deadly force was needed to prevent that?

The reviews don't consider potential civil liability, whether any administrative action is warranted, or whether the use of deadly force could have been avoided. The Attorney General's Office has never found that a shooting was unjustified.




Since 2001, Maine police have been involved in confrontations that led to shots being fired at 33 people with mental health, drug or alcohol problems. Twenty-two of those people were killed.
2001
March 16  James Levier, 60, a deaf man distraught over the sexual abuse of students decades earlier at the Baxter School for the Deaf, is shot to death by Scarborough police when he threatens them with a rifle in a Shop 'N Save supermarket parking lot.
April 28  Timothy Lever, 32, who is schizophrenic and delusional, is shot and injured by Bangor police responding to a reported home intruder.
2002
Feb. 25  Michael Buchanan, 61, of Somerville, who has bipolar disorder with psychosis, is shot and killed by Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies who are trying to take him into protective custody.
Dec. 25  Michael Montagna, 45, a mentally disturbed man who tells police he is being poisoned, is shot at by a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson, flees and is later caught.
2003
March 7  Dale Pelletier, 33, who has paranoid schizophrenia, is shot and killed in Acton by York County sheriff’s deputies after a chase in which gunfire is exchanged.
MAY 6  Christopher Pullen, 36, drinking heavily and distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend, sets his house on fire and is shot and killed by Maine State Police during a standoff in Poland.
Dec. 17  Vincent Berube, 40, an emotionally disturbed man who has slashed his wrists and chest with a knife, is shot by Lewiston police in the department’s parking lot but survives.
2005
Dec. 13  Jessica Brown, 47, a distraught woman, points a shotgun at a Portland police officer when he steps into her apartment to investigate harassment charges, but she escapes injury when the officer fires three shots at her and misses.
2006
May 26  Jillian Daniels, 26, who is wanted in connection with armed robberies in New Hampshire and tells police she wants to kill herself or commit “suicide by cop,” is shot and wounded by Sanford police during a confrontation outside her grandmother’s home.
June 6 William Burhoe, 50, a paranoid schizophrenic man from Jay who is quarreling with his adult son, is shot in the leg by a state trooper after Burhoe fires a rifle at police during a confrontation at his home. He survives.
Aug. 26  Richard Duncan, 26, who is high on cocaine, is shot and killed by a Portland police officer while struggling over a handgun that Duncan displays during an investigation of a suspected drug transaction on a city street.
2007
Sept. 22  Scott White, 46, an alcoholic with a history of violent behavior, is shot to death by a state trooper in Rumford after he confronts police with two knives and a Taser fails to stop him.
Sept. 23  Gregori Jackson, 18, who is drunk in violation of his bail conditions, flees from a car pulled over in a traffic stop and is fatally shot during a struggle with a Waldoboro police officer.
Dec. 21  Jason Wentzell, 28, who is suicidal, is shot and killed by a Gardiner police officer and a state trooper on Route 24, where he is holding his estranged wife and family hostage in a car.
2008
Feb. 16  Daniel McDowell, 21, who is drunk and has a history of suicide attempts, is fatally shot by state police and Somerset County sheriff’s deputies in a confrontation in Harmony.
May 12  Douglas Kelley Jr., 40, drunk and upset about a failed relationship, is shot and killed by a game warden and police officer in Indian Township after he points a handgun at them.
Aug. 25  Michael Norton, 29, suicidal and highly agitated, is fatally shot by a South Portland police officer after Norton confronts police with two knives outside his home during a four-hour standoff.
Sept. 15   Bartolo Ford, 47, an Iraq war veteran taking medications for post-traumatic stress disorder, is shot and wounded by an Auburn police officer during a chase in which Ford rams several police cruisers with a dump truck.
Oct. 22   Douglas Tenczar, 41, drunk and using marijuana and other drugs, is shot and wounded in his home in Sebago after he points a shotgun at Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies, who have come to question him about displaying a gun during a road rage incident.
2009
March 24  Barbara Stewart, 47, calls 911 to tell police she plans to kill herself or others and is fatally shot outside her apartment by a Biddeford police officer after she refuses to put her gun down.

2010
April 23   Neil Begin, 54, who is intoxicated and emotionally disturbed, is shot and killed by a state trooper and a U.S. Border Patrol agent after he threatens family members and points a rifle at police when they step into his mobile home in Cyr Plantation.
July 8  James Popkowski, 37, a distraught and disabled veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is fatally shot by a Maine Warden Service officer outside the Togus Veterans Center.
Oct. 4   Kemp Lybrook, 29, who is despondent and has threatened to commit “suicide by cop,” is shot and wounded by a state police detective during a standoff outside his home in Skowhegan.
Oct. 19   Jessica Rood, 30, who is suicidal, drunk and highly agitated, escapes injury when a Clinton police officer is unable to convince her to get out of a locked car and shoots out two tires to keep her from driving while intoxicated.
2011
Jan. 15  Andrew Landry, 22, who is psychotic and having delusions, is shot and killed by a York County sheriff’s deputy inside the home of Landry’s aunt in Lyman, after a Taser fails to subdue him and he moves toward police with two knives.
Aug. 2  Katherine Paulson, 39, who has a history of mental illness and violent behavior, is shot to death by a Kennebunk police officer when she approaches him with a knife in her kitchen.
Sept. 25  Paul Fritze, 41, who is mentally ill and has stopped taking his medication, is shot to death by a state trooper after pointing a handgun at a state police tactical team vehicle parked in the driveway of his home in Farmingdale.
Nov. 10  Eric Richard, 46, who is suicidal and has left a note to that effect, is fatally shot by a state game warden in the woods outside Richards’ home in Rumford.
Nov. 24  Justin Crowley-Smilek, 28, an Army veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder, is shot and killed outside the Farmington police department by a local police officer.
Nov. 29  Michael Curtis, 46, who is agitated, drunk and has just shot his wife’s ex-husband, is shot and killed by a state trooper during a standoff in Dover-Foxcroft.
2012
June 25  Charles Robinson, 75, who is drunk and has a history of alcohol abuse, is shot to death by border patrol agents at his home in Jackman.
Aug. 14  Warren Dome, 54, who is armed with a knife and called state police barracks making homicidal and suicidal threats, is shot by a state trooper at Dome’s home in Edinburg. He survives.
Oct. 23   Leon Tilden, 27, a Lamoine man who family members say has been behaving erratically, shoots and kills his father and uncle before being fatally shot himself after a manhunt by state police.

Portland Press Herald

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