A York County deputy was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot a man last year while they wrestled for control of the deputy’s weapons during a tense encounter in Waterboro, the Office of the Maine Attorney General has ruled.

Tyler Woodburn and fiancee Megan Sweeney with their daughter, Lilith Woodburn, 1. Photo courtesy of Megan Sweeney

Deputy Levi Johnson shot Tyler Woodburn, 30, during a fight outside the house on Rosemont Avenue where Woodburn lived with his fiancee, their 1-year-old daughter and his fiancee’s parents. The interaction between Woodburn and Johnson on Sept. 7, 2022, began when the deputy responded to a 911 call reporting Woodburn was driving while intoxicated and might have a gun in his vehicle.

The attorney general’s report released Friday contains the first update in the case in nearly six months, though it largely mirrors what Woodburn’s fiancee told the Press Herald two days after his death.

A public records request for transcripts of the 911 call that the Press Herald filed in September is still pending with the Sanford Regional Communications Center, which has said it is waiting for the attorney general’s office to redact the document.

Attorney General Aaron Fray concluded that Johnson was justified when he shot Woodburn because he “reasonably believed that Mr. Woodburn was posing an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death” after Woodburn tried to grab the deputy’s gun and Taser.

Under state law, the attorney general’s office investigates all cases involving the use of deadly force by police to determine whether they were justified. Police are permitted to use deadly force if they fear their lives are in danger, if they face the use of deadly force by another person, or reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to defend another person.


Every police shooting in recent history in Maine has been ruled justified.

On the evening of Sept. 7, a 911 caller reported that Woodburn had left the house on Rosemont Avenue driving a white Ford pickup with his girlfriend to buy alcohol at a store in town. The caller said the couple were involved in a domestic dispute and that Woodburn would act violently or try to flee if confronted by police, Frey’s report said.

Megan Sweeney, Woodburn’s fiancee, said she went to the store with Woodburn after he got home from work as a general laborer with a foundation and excavation company. They had not been drinking, she said, and Woodburn was not armed. Years before, Woodburn had been wrongfully jailed in Massachusetts and had a general dislike for the police, but hadn’t been in trouble during their two years together, she said in September.


Johnson, who responded to the 911 call, was unable to find the pickup truck and contacted the caller, who told him that a few days earlier Woodburn had threatened to shoot a neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Shawn Sanborn, if they intervened when Woodburn was being abusive. During that call, a white pickup truck passed Johnson, who was unable to catch up, the report said.

The report does not identify the person who called 911.


Johnson then drove to Rosemont Avenue, where he saw the vehicle parked in a driveway and a resident told him they wanted Woodburn removed from the house. At that point, Johnson was outside the house with two women, who are not identified in the report, and he saw Woodburn in the kitchen.

One of those women was likely Woodford’s fiancee, who said she was inside with Woodburn when Johnson arrived soon after they got home from the store. She said her mother talked to Johnson outside, but Sweeney didn’t know why the deputy was there and wondered if someone had called police because Woodburn did a burnout on the dirt road near her parents’ home.

As Woodburn came outside, Johnson told him he was investigating a call that Woodburn was driving under the influence. When Woodburn went back inside, Johnson “opened the door, grabbed his arm and escorted him onto a deck and down the steps to the ground,” Frey wrote.

Megan Sweeney cries as she describes the death of her fiance Tyler Woodburn in September 2022. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

But Sweeney said Johnson did more than that.

“The cop went to kick my door in and went in and grabbed Tyler and threw him down our stairs, which is what instigated this fight,” she said

The two men began to struggle when Woodburn pulled away from the deputy, then grabbed the back of Johnson’s neck to push his head down, according to the report. Johnson tried unsuccessfully several times to deploy his Taser as Johnson tried to take it from him.


Frey said Johnson described the Taser as being “so close to his face that he could smell its burning odor.”


They continued to struggle on the ground, with Woodburn on top of the deputy and trying to pull his gun from its holster. The women tried to restrain Woodburn – one by pulling his shirt over his head and the other by pinning his arm using her body to prevent him from getting the gun – and Johnson was able to get back on his feet, the report said.

While asking Woodburn to stop, Johnson tried to reload the Taser to avoid using deadly force, but it fell to the ground when Woodburn again tried to grab it, the report said. When Woodburn lunged at Johnson in what the deputy believed was another attempt to get his gun, Johnson drew the weapon and shot Woodburn.

Woodburn, who was within 1 to 2 feet of the deputy, was hit twice in the chest. He died at the scene. An autopsy later determined he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.138%. One Taser probe was found on his T-shirt.

Johnson was treated at the hospital for multiple abrasions and contusions, including trauma to both sides of his neck.


Sweeney said in September that she did not believe Johnson needed to use deadly force.

“He could have shot him anywhere, and he shot him right in the chest from less than a foot away. And I just keep seeing his body going limp,” she said. “My little girl is never going to get to see her dad again.”

Sweeney did not respond Friday to a message asking about the attorney general’s determination that Johnson was acting in self-defense.

After the shooting, Johnson was placed on leave, which is standard procedure. He has since returned to duty, said Sheriff William King, who declined Friday to talk about the attorney general’s report.

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