Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills has concluded that a Lewiston police officer was justified in using deadly force to disable a front-end loader that had been stolen by two teenagers last year.

Mills issued a report, dated July 28, which concluded that Lewiston police Sgt. Derrick St. Laurent acted to protect others from harm when he fired his weapon at the loader. The boys who stole the heavy equipment machine, which is used in construction, were not injured.

Her report also provides vivid new details about the widely publicized theft and chase that ensued during the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2016.

According to Mills, two 14-year-old boys who were residents of a juvenile group home in Litchfield escaped from the residence just after midnight.

Later, according to an attendant at the Maine Turnpike toll plaza in Auburn, the boys placed construction barrels across the highway there in an apparent attempt to stop traffic and get a ride.

The teenagers left that toll plaza and next stole a Volvo front-end loader from a construction site at the turnpike’s West Gardiner plaza around 1:39 a.m. They then proceeded to lead police on a low-speed chase through several towns that left a path of destruction in their wake.

The boys were eventually arrested on the turnpike in New Gloucester after St. Laurent fired three shots at the tires of the front-end loader. None of the rounds penetrated the tires, but the gunfire apparently persuaded the teenagers to pull over. The pursuit lasted for about 30 miles and no injuries were reported.

At one point during the chase, the teenagers crossed over the turnpike median strip and headed south in the northbound lane.

Mills said the boys hit a car heading north with the front-end loader. The driver of the car had pulled off the road to avoid being hit, but the teenagers intentionally rammed the vehicle, ripping open its left side, the report said. The driver escaped the wreckage by exiting through the passenger side door.

“Sgt. St. Laurent, viewing the erratic operation of the loader and the intentional collision, believed that the circumstances presented an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death,” Mills wrote. “He drove his vehicle alongside the loader and fired three shots at the right rear tire in an attempt to disable the vehicle. Although none of the rounds penetrated the tire, the loader stopped and the two juveniles surrendered without further incident.”

Mills concluded: “All facts lead to the conclusion that Sgt. St. Laurent acted to defend innocent motorists in the path of the loader.”

The teenagers, both of whom admitted to operating the stolen loader at different times, carved a path of destruction across central Maine, according to Mills’ report.

Mills said they destroyed 17 mailboxes in Litchfield; heavily damaged a parked car in Wales; damaged a business sign, a car and a fire hydrant in Sabattus; and destroyed the car heading north on the turnpike.

During one segment of the chase, the boys also drove the front-end loader along Main Street and Lisbon Street in downtown Lewiston and collided with a police cruiser.

Each boy was charged with several crimes and remanded to the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, where they will be held until the age of 16, Mills said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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