October 9, 2013

Maine AG: Trooper justified in shooting of Maine teen

James Reynolds, 18, of West Paris, who reportedly is mentally ill, made a threat with a rifle, the attorney general says.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The West Paris teen, reportedly mentally ill, made a threat with a rifle, the attorney general says.

click image to enlarge

This 2009 Oxford Hills Middle School yearbook shows James Reynolds

click image to enlarge

A frame grab from a video of the Maine State Police S58th Recruit Training Troop (RTT) posted on YouTube shows then-recruit Jason Wing during an exercise. The state attorney general's office has found Trooper Wing legally justified in shooting James Reynolds, 18, along a West Paris road in June.

Photo: Maine State Police 2008

Related headlines

The state trooper who gravely wounded a teenager in West Paris in June was legally justified in shooting him, the Maine Attorney General’s Office said in a report released Tuesday.

The report provides, for the first time, a detailed narrative of the encounter and the moments leading up to the shooting. It also reveals that Maine State Police were warned that 18-year-old James Reynolds had mental health disorders and was a danger to himself.

There was not enough time to bring crisis intervention specialists to the scene, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state police. “There was a very condensed time” from the start of the incident to the end, he said.

The report says Trooper Jason Wing, on patrol in West Paris on the evening of June 8, was dispatched to investigate a report of a suspicious person along Roy Road, an unpaved private way in the rural Oxford County town.

A resident of Roy Road called police at 6:11 p.m. to report the presence of a suspicious person, known to the resident as “James,” who allegedly was responsible for a past residential burglary in the area.

About the same time, a mental health worker called police to inform them that a woman had reported that her son, James Reynolds, was missing. The caller said the teenager had mental health disorders, was a danger to himself and had attempted suicide in the past.

Wing, informed of the mental health concern, continued to search for the suspicious person, and determined where he believed the person was walking. While Wing made a telephone call to a game warden to arrange for a tracking dog, he saw someone looking at him from behind a wooden shed.

According to authorities, the person behind the shed, later identified as James L. Reynolds of West Paris, quickly disappeared behind the building and then reappeared with unidentified objects in both hands.

Wing gave commands for Reynolds to drop what was in his hands. Reynolds replied with a vulgarity – and showed a rifle held under his arm, the report says.

Wing drew his .45-caliber, state-issued semiautomatic pistol, took cover near his cruiser nearly 80 feet away, and told Reynolds to drop the rifle. Reynolds responded again, “(expletive) you!” and, according to the attorney general’s report, raised the rifle at Wing.

The trooper fired three rounds, hitting Reynolds each time.

The rifle, a lever-action .35-caliber hunting model, was later determined to have been missing from a nearby seasonal camp that had been burglarized. Although Reynolds was carrying ammunition for the rifle, the weapon was not loaded at the time of the encounter and had a locking mechanism on it, according to the report.

Reynolds suffered injuries that included bullet wounds to the head, leg and arm. He was treated at the scene by Wing and others, then taken by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He has since been recovering from his injuries, according to his family, although his current condition is unknown. McCausland said authorities intend to charge him with burglary, gun theft and criminal threatening.

A resident of a seasonal home near the site of the shooting later reported that his home had been burglarized. Missing was the rifle found in Reynolds’ possession, along with other items, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Reynolds’ mother and attorney prevented law enforcement officers from interviewing the teenager, according to the report.

Reynolds’ attorney, Robert Laskoff of Lewiston, did not return calls Tuesday, and no more information was available on Reynolds’ mental condition.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)