December 12, 2012

Effort to get ill woman treatment ends tragically

Feeling threatened, a Kennebunk woman calls police about her adult daughter, who is killed when she advances on an officer with a knife.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Katherine Paulson died after being shot by police in her mother’s home in Kennebunk in March 2011. Authorities said after the shooting that the police response might have been different if the officers had known about the 39-year-old woman’s diagnosis of mental illness.

Family photo

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Carol Paulson of Kennebunk called police last year intent on helping her ill daughter get back on her medication by having her involuntarily committed to a hospital. But Katherine Paulson wielded a knife when officers arrived and was shot.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The attorney general's report said Morneau was introducing himself when Katherine Paulson grabbed a kitchen knife with an 8-inch blade and advanced on him. He couldn't back up because of "a physical obstruction," the report says, and drew his gun and fired four shots after she refused several orders to drop the knife.

The attorney general concluded that Morneau, who was not told about Katherine Paulson’s psychological problems by the 911 dispatcher, reasonably feared for his life. In his statement to investigators, the officer said, “I thought she was coming for me. I was scared.”

A separate, administrative review of the incident found that Paulson was too close to Morneau for him to use others types of force, including a Taser. It determined that the department's policies were adhered to and that training was adequate.Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said after the shooting that the police response could have been different if the officers had known about Katherine Paulson's mental illness.

Paulson said she still cannot bring herself to go through the photo album containing pictures of her daughter.

"My life has been destroyed because of what happened that night," she said in a March interview. "It's hard for me to put one foot in front of the other foot, even though it's almost a year."

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