A Westbrook police officer is expecting to find out this week whether he was correct in firing a weapon at a Portland man in early November.

Officer Phil Robinson fired a rifle shot at a pizza-delivery driver at the Westbrook Pointe housing project on Nov. 3 after the driver failed to stop and nearly hit Robinson and another officer. The driver, who was not arrested, said he thought he was being robbed, although both officers were in uniform.

The Westbrook Police Department placed Robinson on paid administrative leave, pending a review by the Attorney General’s Office. The department sent a report detailing the incident to the attorney general this week for review, said Capt. Tom Roth, and is anticipating an answer this week.

“I don’t want to insinuate that there was a problem,” said Roth of Robinson’s actions. “This is just policy.”

Roth said this is the second time a Westbrook officer has fired a weapon in the four years he has been with the department. “You can go your whole career without firing a weapon on duty,” he said.

If the attorney general finds no fault in Robinson’s actions, he would return to active duty immediately, said Roth. The department would then conduct an internal review to see if Robinson followed department policy correctly or would need additional training regarding use of weapons.

Roth said the internal review is department policy. “It’s a way to objectively look at how we do business and make any changes if necessary,” he said.

The District Attorney’s Office in Portland will decide whether any criminal charges should be levied against either the driver or the person who made the emergency call, which proved to be unfounded.

According to the police report, Robinson and Officer Steve Pulsoni responded to a call from the housing project at around 10 p.m. reporting a woman screaming and gunshots near the project’s office. When the two officers arrived at the scene they spotted a suspicious, unoccupied vehicle with the driver’s door open.

As they approached, a man ran from behind a building, jumped into the vehicle and made a U-turn in an attempt to leave. The man failed to stop the car when commanded by Robinson and Pulsoni and swerved toward Robinson after nearly hitting Pulsoni. Robinson, in fear of being struck, fired at the car, which then stopped.

The officers removed the driver from the car and cuffed him before releasing him without arresting him. No injuries were reported in the incident, and the vehicle received minor damage.

Staff writer Robert Lowell contributed to this report.


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