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Report Of The Attorney General On The Use Of Deadly Force By York County Deputy Sheriff On January 15, 2011 In Lyman
June 16, 2011
On the night of January 15, 2011, Andrew Landry, 22, was shot and killed by York County deputy sheriff Kyle Kassa during an armed confrontation in a home on Faucher?s Lane in Lyman.
At approximately 8 p.m. on January 15, 2011, the Sanford Regional Communications Center received a call from Andrew Landry?s grandmother, with whom Mr. Landry resided in Sanford. She reported that Mr. Landry was at his aunt?s residence on Faucher?s Lane in Lyman and was acting oddly. The call was dispatched to Sgt. Kyle Kassa of the York County Sheriff?s Office. Sgt. Kassa learned that Mr. Landry?s odd behavior included calls made by Mr. Landry to family members inquiring if there were any weapons in the Faucher?s Lane residence. Mr. Landry also told family members that he felt that he was in ?the matrix.? It was also reported that during one of these telephone calls, Mr. Landry asked a family member whether his cousin would bleed if stabbed because he thought she was a robot. About a half hour before this call, the same cousin spoke with a family member and expressed fear of Mr. Landry because of the odd manner in which he was acting. After this call, no one from Mr. Landry?s family was able to reach anyone inside the Faucher?s Lane home by telephone.
It was learned from the investigation that Mr. Landry?s odd behavior at the Faucher?s Lane home included methodically unplugging anything electrical in the home, unplugging the phone in the residence, and removing the battery from a cell phone. Mr. Landry spoke to family members of his aversion to electrical outlets and his belief that voices coming from the electrical outlets were talking to him. He also told the family members that they were all robots from the head down, that they would not bleed if stabbed, and that he would defend them from the police who were also robots. At another point, Mr. Landry climbed onto a chair to cover a rear kitchen window with a blanket.
For nearly two hours, the family members inside the house witnessed Mr. Landry?s unusual behavior and it was his behavior that ultimately resulted in the call to the police. Using the pretense that she needed to walk the dog, Mr. Landry?s aunt was able to leave the residence and use her cell phone to call Mr. Landry?s grandmother. After receiving the aunt?s call describing Mr. Landry?s odd behavior, the grandmother called the police, and later described the behavior in detail to Sgt. Kassa while the officer was on his way to the residence in Lyman.
Before approaching the Faucher?s Lane home, Sgt. Kassa and Sgt. David Chauvette, also of the York County Sheriff?s Office, met and conferred briefly at the entrance to Faucher?s Lane and then drove in separate cruisers to the residence. Both officers were in uniform and driving marked cruisers. It was nighttime, and the officers noted that the home appeared to be dark inside. As the officers approached the home on foot, they noticed movement of the blinds or curtains in a front window. As the officers climbed the steps to a small landing at the front door, lights came on inside the home. The officers observed notes taped to the front door and they noticed that written on one of the notes was ?robots not welcome.? Later investigation disclosed that two notes, written by Mr. Landry and taped to the front door of the residence with black duct tape, read:
In response to the officers? arrival at the door, Mr. Landry?s aunt opened the door. She appeared very upset and started to explain Mr. Landry?s behavior, but was cut short when Mr. Landry appeared in the open doorway. Mr. Landry failed to respond to questions from Sgt. Chauvette; he turned around and walked into the living room of the home. Mr. Landry failed to interact verbally with the officers and maintained a blank stare throughout the entire encounter. The officers followed Mr. Landry into the house. Mr. Landry walked from the living room into the kitchen, ignoring the officers? requests for him to ?hold up? and speak to them. The officers were side-by-side in the living room when they observed Mr. Landry, who was six to seven feet away from them in the kitchen area, extract what turned out to be two large knives from a butcher block on the kitchen counter. Later investigation determined that the stainless steel knives measured 14 inches overall with 8-inch blades. In addition to the two knives picked up by Mr. Landry at that point, the investigation also disclosed that Mr. Landry had placed two similar knives at locations in the living room which, according to a family member, he said were needed to defend himself.
Both officers issued several commands for Mr. Landry to drop the knives; these commands were ignored. Sgt. Chauvette attempted to immobilize Mr. Landry with a TASER. After the TASER was deployed, Mr. Landry ?stiffened up? and then charged at Sgt. Kassa while ?wind milling? the knives in both hands. Sgt. Kassa backed up as Mr. Landry came toward him but quickly ran out of room. As Mr. Landry continued to charge, Sgt. Kassa shot at him several times. At the time he was shot, Mr. Landry had already made physical contact with Sgt. Kassa and Sgt. Kassa was continuing to ward off Mr. Landry?s knife attack even after discharging several rounds at Mr. Landry. As this was going on, Sgt. Chauvette, who was within a foot or two of Sgt. Kassa and Mr. Landry, was able to grab Mr. Landry and push him away from Sgt. Kassa. Mr. Landry, struck by gunfire, collapsed to the floor. The investigation disclosed that Sgt. Kassa discharged a total of four rounds, three of which struck Mr. Landry. There was no appreciable distance between Sgt. Kassa and Mr. Landry at the time the shots were fired. This was evidenced by gunpowder stippling on Mr. Landry, and blood from Mr. Landry on Sgt. Kassa. In addition, the contact between Mr. Landry and Sgt. Kassa resulted in a small tactical light being dislodged from Sgt. Kassa?s firearm.
The investigation also disclosed a previous encounter between the police and Mr. Landry on January 15. Shortly after noon on that day, Mr. Landry?s mother called the Sanford Police Department to report that Mr. Landry was missing. The mother also reported that Mr. Landry?s cell phone and brief case had been found on the side of the New Dam Road in Sanford, not far from his grandmother?s home where he had been residing. A Sanford police officer went to the grandmother?s home and spoke with two family members, who related that Mr. Landry?s behavior of late had been bizarre. While the officer was speaking with the family members, Mr. Landry?s grandmother returned home and with her was Mr. Landry. The grandmother told the officer that she found Mr. Landry in Alfred and that he had been out in the cold for at least three hours without a shirt or shoes. In response to questioning by the officer, Mr. Landry said that he had not slept nor eaten for several days, that he did not know why he had left his grandmother?s house in cold weather only partially clothed, and that he did not know where he was when his grandmother found him in Alfred. Based on Mr. Landry?s responses, the officer called Sanford Rescue to evaluate Mr. Landry?s medical condition. Initially, Mr. Landry consented to the medical evaluation and, agreed to go to a hospital; ultimately he rejected the advice and declined to go to the hospital. The paramedics determined that Mr. Landry was not in need of immediate medical attention and, in accordance with his wishes, he was released. At the same time, the responding Sanford police officer determined that taking Mr. Landry into protective custody was not an option because the officer had no credible evidence that Mr. Landry was an imminent threat to himself or others.
Analysis and Conclusion
The Attorney General is charged by law with investigating any law enforcement officer who 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, as defined by law, is reasonably generated by the facts so as to preclude criminal prosecution. The review does not include whether there could be any civil liability, whether any administrative action is warranted, or whether the use of deadly force could have been averted.
Under Maine law, for an individual to be justified in using deadly force for self-defense or the defense of others, two requirements must be met. First, the individual must reasonably believe that deadly force is imminently threatened against the individual or against someone else, and, second, the individual must reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.
Attorney General William J. Schneider has concluded that at the time shots were fired at Mr. Landry by Sgt. Kassa, it was reasonable for Sgt. Kassa to believe that deadly force was imminently threatened against him and Sgt. Chauvette. In addition, it was reasonable for Sgt. Kassa to believe that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself and Sgt. Chauvette from the imminent threat of deadly force posed against them by Mr. Landry?s actions. This conclusion is based on an extensive scene investigation, interviews with numerous individuals, review of medical records, and all other evidence made available from any source.
It is beyond the scope of this report and beyond the authority and expertise of this office to determine Mr. Landry?s motivations, his state of mind, or the medical or psychological underpinnings of his behavior and actions on January 15, 2011.
CONTACT: Brenda Kielty Telephone: (207) 626-8577