AUBURN — The May 2019 fatal shooting of a man by police in Auburn during a standoff involving a hostage was justified, Maine’s attorney general said in a report released Wednesday.

Steven Case Jr., 29, of Bucksport, was shot and killed by a member of the Maine State Police’s Tactical Team after a five-hour stand-off at an Auburn apartment building.

Case barricaded himself in the basement at 185 Main St. after keeping police at bay for most of the day by threatening to shoot anybody who entered and telling police he had a hostage. The report states that Case was using the female hostage as a human shield.

According to the attorney general’s report, “At 2:46 p.m., the hostage was observed by Trooper Hardy to move away from Mr. Case just enough for Trooper Hardy to take a safe shot. Trooper Hardy fired a shot through a window and screen, incapacitating Mr. Case.”

The report states, “Trooper Hardy acted in defense of the hostage, himself, other officers and civilians within range of the firearms available to Mr. Case,” and only resorted to deadly force after negotiations failed and Case refused requests to release the hostage.

Following the incident, Hardy explained that he used deadly force “because of his concern that Mr. Case was going to use deadly force against the hostage,” and “was aware of Mr. Case’s escalating behavior, knew of his threats that something bad might happen, and had observed him controlling the hostage, using her to shield himself from view of law enforcement,” the report states.

On the morning of May 21, 2019, officers were advised by Auburn dispatch of a report of an unidentified man in the basement of the Main Street residence “with a large number of firearms and who was planning a shootout.”

The report states that when inspecting the basement, officers observed a large duffle bag that, upon being kicked, sounded as though it contained ammunition. Officers approached a makeshift wooden door separating the main portion of the basement from a smaller room, and as an officer pulled the door open, an unseen male (later determined to be Case) shouted, “Don’t come in here, I have a gun. Do not come in here.”

When officers identified themselves, Case again shouted for them not to enter, and the officers retreated up the basement stairs and took a position just outside the door to the basement. Additional officers from the Auburn Police Department were called to secure the building, and the Maine State Police Tactical Team was activated.

According to the report, from their position at the top of the stairs, officers heard Case, “shouting to not come down the stairs and that he had a hostage.” They also heard what sounded like guns being charged or “racked,” the report said.

Later in the morning, six members of the tactical team replaced the Auburn officers on the first floor of the house, taking a position at the top of the basement stairs. The state police Crisis Negotiation Team had also been in contact with Case by telephone.

Eventually, officers left the building, moving to the side of the garage, while Hardy and another trooper were directed to a position on the second floor of the adjacent apartment building, about 37 feet from 185 Main St.

According to the report, under Maine law, for any person, including a law enforcement officer, to be justified in using deadly force in self-defense or the defense of others, two requirements must be met. First, the person must reasonably and actually believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or against someone else, and second, the person must reasonably and actually believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.

“Whether the use of force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable is based on the totality of the particular circumstances and judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a given situation,” the report states.

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