AUGUSTA — An Augusta police officer early Sunday shot and injured a man who was wanted by the Fairfield Police Department, authorities said.

Augusta officers responded to a house on South Belfast Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. looking for Robert Farrington, 27, who was wanted on charges of domestic violence assault and cruelty to animals, according to the Augusta Police Department.

Inside the house, Officer Sabastian Guptill and Farrington met in what Police Chief Jared Mills described as an armed confrontation, during which Guptill shot Farrington.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon at the Augusta Police Department, Mills said Farrington was taken to a hospital, where he was being treated for injuries not considered life-threatening and was under guard.

Guptill has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, as is standard practice in officer-involved shootings.

At the news conference, Mills said he is not releasing details about the confrontation, including how many shots were fired or where Farrington was shot. Mills also would not disclose the hospital where Farrington was being treated.

Mills confirmed Farrington had a gun and that one other person was at the house at the time of the shooting.

“This was actually a location we were called to to assist another law enforcement agency,” Mills said. “It wasn’t anything we were actively investigating. It was an incident that had occurred in Fairfield, and we were just assisting on the apprehension of the individual.”

Mills said a number of officers responded to the house and were on and around the property at the time of the shooting.

When Farrington is released from the hospital, he is expected to be arrested on a warrant from the Fairfield Police Department. Mills said he did not know whether those are felony charges.

“Following our investigation,” he said, “we’ll put together whatever charges we have for him at that time.”

Guptill was not injured.

 

The residence on South Belfast Avenue in Augusta on Sunday where Augusta police Officer Sabastian Guptill shot Robert Farrington. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Mills said any time force is used, the police officer responds according to what the situation dictates.

“The police officer has to meet the force with just a tad bit above what force they are facing,” he said. “This is obviously a very tragic event, and our hearts go out to everybody who is affected directly by this tragedy.”

A call and an email to Fairfield Police Chief Tom Gould were not returned Sunday afternoon. A Somerset County dispatcher referred calls to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Augusta property records indicate the home at 911 South Belfast Ave., which is also Route 105,  is owned by Robert L. Farrington. It is located less than a mile west of Togus Pond, in a wooded, rural area not far from the Windsor town line, and sits back from the road.

No one was at the house Sunday afternoon, and neighbors did not answer their doors. An orange traffic cone blocked the driveway of the neighboring property to the east.

Guptill was hired by the Augusta Police Department in April 2018, and he graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in May of this year, finishing second in his class. Mills said Guptill had been with the department as an intern while he was in college.

Mills described Guptill as an excellent, motivated officer who focuses on details.

Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills discusses Sunday use of force while answering questions about the exchange of gunfire between Augusta Police Officer Sabastian Guptill and Robert Farrington.  Staff photo by Andy Molloy

“We haven’t had any issues with him,” Mills said.

Augusta’s last officer-involved shooting was in February 2015, inside the offices of the outpatient clinic run by Riverview Psychiatric Center’s Assertive Community Treatment in the Ballard Center.

At that time, Officer Laura Drouin fired three shots at outpatient Jason Begin, who had begun slicing his arms with a knife during a meeting with an outpatient team after he was told he would be recommitted to the state psychiatric hospital after having been allowed to live in a supervised home in the community.

He also threatened to slash others with the knife.

In January 2016, the Maine Attorney General’s Office concluded that Drouin was justified in the use of deadly force because she was defending her life and the lives of others when she shot and wounded Begin.

In May, Drouin was cleared in a federal civil lawsuit brought by Begin.

Dating back to 1990, Maine police officers have been involved in more than 150 shootings. In every instance. the Attorney General’s Office has concluded that the shooting was justified.

In June, lawmakers passed a bill to create an independent review panel that will evaluate and make policy recommendations every time police use of deadly force results in a death or serious injury. The 15-member group will be largely appointed by the attorney general, and will include defense attorneys, a civil rights organization, citizens and law enforcement officials.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

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