Victims of the deadly Madison shootings are, from left: Lori Hayden, Dustin Tuttle and Mike Spaulding. Contributed photo

MADISON — Deputies from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office were justified in 2017 when they used deadly force in a shoot-out with a gunman who had killed three people in Madison, the Maine Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday.

A report by the Attorney General’s Office, which also provides additional details of law enforcement’s involvement in the high-profile shootings, concludes that the three deputies involved in the shooting were reasonably aware that the gunman, Carroll Tuttle, was using “unlawful deadly force” against them and therefore they were justified in shooting at him to protect themselves.

Tuttle shot and killed his son, Dustin Tuttle, 26; Dustin’s mother, Lori Hayden, 53; and neighbor Michael Spaulding, 57.

The shootings happened at two homes and along the roadside about 4 miles from the center of town in Madison, a Somerset County community of about 4,800 residents.

“All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion that the deputies acted in self-defense and in defense of third parties,” according to the report, written by Attorney General Aaron M. Frey.

The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for handling any criminal investigation of a law enforcement officer who uses deadly force during their duties and the detectives that conduct the investigation are independent of any other law enforcement agency.

Their search into finding out whether or not the three officers’ were legally justified in shooting at and killing Tuttle did not include an analysis of whether “any personnel action might be warranted,” whether the deadly force could have been avoided or whether there might be civil liability.

For any person to be justified in using deadly force in self-defense in the state of Maine, two requirements must be met: an officer must reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to deter the threat and whether the use of force by an officer is reasonable based on the circumstances.

The officers’ involvement started after dispatchers received a call at 7:37 a.m. on July 5, 2017, from a woman at 299 Russell Road. She said that the man she was visiting, Michael Spaulding, had been shot by Carroll Tuttle, who then drove off in a silver pickup truck. A deputy was dispatched to the scene and arrived six minutes later. Spaulding was dead when the officer arrived.

At 7:48 a.m., dispatchers received another call, this time from a Norridgewock woman reporting that her daughter witnessed Carroll Tuttle shoot and kill his partner, Lori Hayden, 52, and their son, Dustin Tuttle, 26, at 316 Russell Road.

The woman left the scene unharmed after Carroll Tuttle told her that he was going to his bedroom to kill himself.

Somerset County Detective Michael Ross arrived at 299 Russell Road at about 8 a.m., only aware that Spaulding had been shot when he arrived at the residence.

According to the Attorney General’s report, it was at this time that Chief Deputy James Ross heard about the homicide at 316 Russell Road, and that Carroll Tuttle was the suspect and had left the scene in his truck. Chief Deputy Ross was also unaware of the reported shootings that had taken place at the Tuttle residence.

When Ross arrived at 299 Russell Road, Harvey Austin, Lori Hayden’s brother-in-law, was also arriving  and asked Ross if he had checked on Hayden. Ross told him that there had been no reason to check on them.

“Austin then went to the Tuttle residence where he found Hayden unresponsive on the living room floor,” the report reads. “Another deputy discovered Dustin Tuttle deceased on a bed with apparent gunshot wounds.”

Austin was notified at about 8:15 a.m. that Hayden and Dustin Tuttle were dead and began walking down the driveway when they saw Carroll Tuttle driving at a high rate of speed down the road, dismissing police vehicles. He pulled into the driveway and yelled at Austin, “You’re getting what’s coming to you!”

Carroll Tuttle then took out a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and shot at Austin. From there, a shootout between Chief Deputy Ross and Carroll Tuttle began, and Austin was shot at again. Detective Ross, who was at the Spaulding residence, was walking toward Carroll’s home when he saw the vehicle coming down the road and open fire.

Deputy Joseph Jackson was at 316 Russell Road when he witnessed Carroll Tuttle point a gun at Chief Deputy Ross and Austin. Jackson heard the gunshots and believed that Ross and Austin had been shot, and he fired his .45-caliber Glock pistol at Tuttle.

At this time, Carroll Tuttle was still in his vehicle. When Jackson began firing at him, he got out of his vehicle and attempted to get off of the ground while all three officers continued to fire at him.

“Mr. Tuttle, still maintaining control of his firearm, attempted to get up off the ground while all three officers continued to fire at Mr. Tuttle until he stopped moving,” the report states. “Mr. Tuttle died at the scene. It was later determined that Mr. Tuttle shot Mr. Austin twice,” who survived the gunshot wounds.

Tuttle died from multiple gunshot wounds, including eight bullets and two bullet fragments, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

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