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Report of Attorney General William J. Schneider on the Use of Deadly Force by U.S. Border Patrol Agents in Jackman on June 23, 2012
November 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2012
During the evening of Saturday, June 23, 2012, Charles Robinson, 75, was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol agents during a confrontation at Mr. Robinson’s residence on the Long Pond Road in Jackman.
Charles Robinson and a female companion lived together in Jackman. During the evening of June 23, 2012, Mr. Robinson, who had been drinking, fell down in his home and was believed by his companion to be injured. When the companion told Mr. Robinson that she was going to call an ambulance, he threatened to kill her. Nevertheless, the companion called the Jackman Regional Health Center. The call was interrupted when Mr. Robinson ripped the receiver from the base of the telephone. The companion, who reported that she feared for her life at that point, left the residence and traveled to the nearby health center. In the meantime, a person at the health center called the Somerset County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Jackman station of the U.S. Border Patrol, to report the call from the companion. At the time of these notifications to law enforcement, it was not known that the female companion had left the residence.
After learning that Somerset County deputy sheriffs were at least an hour away from Jackman, two U.S. Border Agents, Jamie Tierney and Chris Demanski, responded to the call. The agents were aware that Mr. Robinson was likely intoxicated, had fallen, and possibly injured himself. The agents were also told that when the female occupant of the residence called for medical assistance, Mr. Robinson had interrupted the call by disconnecting the telephone. They were aware of a similar call, about three months earlier, from the same residence that had resulted in the arrest of Mr. Robinson. They were also aware that Mr. Robinson was known to have firearms in the residence.
The two agents approached the residence – located about 300 feet off the Long Pond Road – on foot from different directions. Both agents were dressed in U.S. Border Patrol uniforms. They met at a door on the side of the residence that served as the main entrance. The agents observed no activity and heard no noise from the residence. They were concerned that the female caller was injured or in danger. The agents observed a partially open screen door and a main door that was fully open. Agent Tierney banged on the screen door and announced “United States Border Patrol,” followed by several other announcements making it clear that they were law enforcement officers and wanted the person inside the residence to show himself, or they were coming inside.
Receiving no response to the announcements, the agents entered the residence. They were barely inside when Agent Tierney observed a man, later identified as Charles Robinson, behind a barrier about 15 feet away. Agent Tierney ordered Mr. Robinson to show his hands and, in response, Mr. Robinson fired at Agent Tierney. Agent Tierney was struck by the gunfire, later determined to be projectiles from a shotgun round that expelled over 200 pellets in the single shot. Agent Demanski saw from where the shot came and observed that Agent Tierney had been struck by the gunfire. Both agents returned fire, after which Mr. Robinson disappeared from view. Agent Tierney was armed with a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, and Agent Demanski a semi-automatic carbine rifle. It was later determined that Mr. Robinson had fired a single shot from a .12 gauge double barrel shotgun; a live round was later found in the other barrel of the shotgun, and several other live rounds were found on and around Mr. Robinson.
Both agents withdrew from the residence and took positions of cover outside. It was at this time that Agent Tierney recognized that while he had been injured from several shotgun pellets, his ballistic vest had stopped several more pellets from penetrating. He later received medical treatment, which included the removal of several pellets from his body. Other Border Patrol agents summoned to the residence set up a perimeter around the residence to await the arrival of the Maine State Police Tactical Team . At a time when officers could safely enter the residence, they did so and discovered that Mr. Robinson had been struck by the earlier gunfire and had died at the scene.
Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical examiner, conducted an investigation at the scene, and later conducted a post mortem examination in which she determined the cause of Mr. Robinson’s death to be a single gunshot wound that entered and exited the upper left arm and then entered the chest. Recovered during the examination was a .40 caliber bullet. Mr. Robinson’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) at the time of his death was 0.155%.
LEGAL ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
The Attorney General is charged by law with investigating the circumstances under which any law enforcement officer uses deadly force while acting in the performance of the officer's duties. The sole purpose of the Attorney General’s investigation is to determine whether self-defense or the defense of others or the need to arrest or stop a dangerous person from escaping, as defined by law, is reasonably generated by the facts so as to preclude criminal prosecution. The review does not include an analysis of potential civil liability, whether any administrative employment action is warranted, or whether the use of deadly force could have been averted.
Under Maine law, for any individual, 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 individual must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the individual or against someone else, and, second, the individual must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.
Under the law, whether a particular use of force is reasonable is based on the totality of the circumstances. The judgment must be from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and must allow for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary. The analysis requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of a particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of officers or others, and whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.
Attorney General William J. Schneider has concluded that at the time that Agents Tierney and Demanski fired the shots that resulted in Mr. Robinson’s death, it was reasonable for the agents to believe that unlawful deadly force was being used against them, and it was reasonable for the agents to believe that it was necessary for them to use deadly force to counter that use of deadly force. The Attorney General’s conclusions are based on an extensive scene investigation, interviews with numerous individuals, and review of all evidence made available from any source.
CONTACT: Martha Demeritt, (207)626-8599