Details are still scarce regarding the police shooting of a Brunswick woman in Topsham on Monday.

The shooting occurred during what Topsham police described as an “armed encounter” with law enforcement on the Route 196 bridge on Monday. Kourtney Sherwood, 37, of Brunswick died at Maine Medical Center the next day.

The officer who fired the single shot, Mathew Bowers, has been placed on administrative leave — a routine step in any situation where deadly force is used — while the Topsham Police Department and the Office of the Maine Attorney General conduct separate investigations.

Authorities have yet to release many details on the circumstances of what happened Monday, although Topsham police said in a statement that a caller reported Sherwood making “homicidal and suicidal statements and was possibly armed with a gun.”

The incident adds to a grim statistic for Maine.

At 22 per 1 million people, the rate of fatal police shootings in Maine is the highest among the six New England states since 2015, according to a national database assembled by The Washington Post. Maine has a population of around 1.3 million people, and the database lists a total of 29 deadly police shootings in the state in the last seven years.


In Vermont — the second-highest in New England — the rate stands at 18 fatal police shootings per 1 million people since 2015. There have been 11 total deadly police shootings in Vermont in that same timeframe. In New Hampshire, the rate is 14 fatal police shootings per 1 million people since 2015.

Prior to the Topsham incident, the most recent police shooting in Maine occurred in Falmouth in October 2021, when two officers shot and killed Daniel DiMillo, 51, after he reportedly confronted them with a knife.

As defined by the Brunswick, Bath and Topsham area, law enforcement shootings are a reportedly infrequent occurrence on the Midcoast, according to local chiefs of police.

Bath Police Chief Andrew Booth said in an email Wednesday that the last time a member of his department shot someone was March 1996 after an officer was charged at by a man with a knife.

The Brunswick Police Department and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office were last involved in a deadly police shooting in 2005, after two officers shot and killed a man following an armed robbery in Waldoboro that ultimately led to shoot out at Cook’s Corner in Brunswick.

Topsham Police Chief Marc Hagan said that while he only started with the department in September 2020, he doesn’t recall any Topsham officers being involved in a deadly force situation.


Sheriff Joel Merry of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office said that, while he was not familiar with the Post’s database, one reason for Maine’s higher rate of police shootings could be due to the number of guns in the state.

“Maine’s a rural state. We’re a rural state with a lot of guns, and when you have encounters that end with individuals having guns and law enforcement officers having guns, it doesn’t always end well,” Merry said. “I’m not saying that we have people that are more prone to use guns against law enforcement officers, but deadly force encounters almost always happen when a person has a deadly weapon and there’s a threat that that person is going to use that weapon against the officer or another third party.”

The Post’s database indicates that of the 29 people killed by law enforcement, 16 had guns and five had knifes. One was listed as unarmed, two had toy weapons, one was using a vehicle as a weapon and four are listed under “other.”

A state-by-state database estimating household gun ownership by the RAND Corporation indicates that 46.8% of Maine households have a gun. In Vermont, it is estimated that 50.5% of households own a gun, and in New Hampshire it is 41.1%.

Merry also serves as a member of Maine Deadly Force Review Panel, which is charged with examining deadly police shootings after the Maine Attorney General reviews them.

“One of the things that we’ve found on the panel is some themes around individuals suffering from mental health, in mental health crisis — there’s often a connection there,” Merry said. “That speaks to the fact, is our statewide mental health crisis system, is it working effectively?”


Of the 29 total fatal police shootings in Maine since 2015, three of those killed were listed by the Post as known to have a mental illness, while 26 were listed as either unknown or did not have a mental illness. According to the Maine State Legislature, nearly 170,000 Maine people are affected by mental illness each year.

Between 2015 and 2021, 2017 saw the highest number of deadly police shootings in Maine at nine total, and 2021 was the second-highest year with six. Of the total, 20 were white, one was black, one was Hispanic and seven are listed as other or unknown.

Since 1990, every police shooting in Maine, which consists of over 170, has been deemed legally justified by the Office of the Attorney General, according to a report published on Jan. 25 by The Portland Press Herald.

Nationally, according to the Post’s database, 1,017 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year.

Despite accounting for less than 13% of the population, the Post’s database indicates that Black Americans are killed by police at a rate that is more than double as high as the rate of white Americans.

Copy the Story Link

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.