August 26, 2004

AUGUST 26, 2004



            Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police officer, Trooper John Hainey, was legally justified when he discharged four rounds from his service weapon at Taylor Michaud, 32, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the afternoon of June 9, 2004, on Route 5 in Fryeburg, after Michaud pointed a shotgun at the trooper and attempted to shoot him.  Neither Michaud nor the trooper was injured.

            The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Trooper Hainey in the situation was legally justified.  The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer’s duty.

            Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met.  First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person.  Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat.   (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury.  With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.) 

            Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, that Trooper Hainey actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Michaud against himself when he shot at Michaud. 

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

            On June 8, 2004, Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher Clifford, assigned to the Lewiston-based Violent Crimes Task Force, received information from the Massachusetts State Police that a fugitive and convicted felon from that state, Taylor Michaud, was possibly staying at a residence in Brownfield, Maine.  Wanted on numerous active warrants in Massachusetts, Michaud was a fugitive from justice in the State of Maine.  Deputy Clifford also learned that Massachusetts authorities considered Michaud to be armed and dangerous.  A drive-by check of the Brownfield residence that day found no vehicles there.

            Early the next morning, Deputy Clifford determined that a vehicle in the driveway of the Brownfield residence belonged to Michaud.  Deputy Clifford got in touch with the Maine State Police to assist in taking Michaud into custody.  While formulating a plan to do that, Deputy Clifford saw a man who turned out to be Michaud come out of the residence, go to the vehicle in the driveway, and return to the residence.  Shortly after, Deputy Clifford left his vantage point to inform other officers of his observation.  When Clifford returned, Michaud’s vehicle was gone.  Officers searched the area for the vehicle for the next several hours without result.  In the early afternoon, several officers went to the residence in Brownfield and obtained permission to search the house for Michaud.  This search was also without result.

            A trooper from the Massachusetts State Police who had arrived in Brownfield to further brief the Maine officers with regard to Michaud told the officers that based on his investigation in Massachusetts, Michaud should be considered very dangerous and a likely risk to shoot at the police if officers attempted to apprehend him.

            While other officers were conducting a search of the residence in Brownfield, Trooper Hainey was outside in his cruiser in the event Michaud returned.  Trooper Hainey watched a vehicle that matched the description he had of Michaud’s vehicle arrive and stop at the end of the driveway.  Trooper Hainey recognized the driver as Michaud.  He also observed a male passenger in the front seat of the vehicle.  Deputy Clifford, on foot and making the same observation, drew his weapon, shouted at Michaud that he was a police officer, and ordered him to stop.  Michaud immediately drove away, accelerating his vehicle toward Route 113, but slowing down enough to let out the passenger.

Trooper Hainey pursued Michaud, activating the cruiser’s emergency warning signals, as well as an in-cruiser video camera.  The passenger, who had been let out of the vehicle, claimed not to know that Michaud was a fugitive. He told officers, however, that there was a loaded shotgun in Michaud’s vehicle and that Michaud had told him he intended to use it.  That information was immediately broadcast to Trooper Hainey, now in pursuit of Michaud, and other officers in the area.

            The pursuit continued onto Route 113 and headed north toward Fryeburg at speeds of 90 m.p.h.  In Fryeburg, Michaud turned onto Route 302 and traveled a short distance before turning north onto Route 5 toward Lovell.  When he was not slowed by traffic conditions, Michaud continued to accelerate to speeds of 90 m.p.h. in his attempt to elude Trooper Hainey.  While necessarily slowing down when he encountered traffic, Michaud generally drove at high speeds and in a dangerous manner, particularly in and around the built-up portion of Fryeburg.  Michaud passed vehicles on the right, encountered several near collisions caused by the dangerous operation, and imperiled not only other traffic, but pedestrians and highway workers along the pursuit route. 

As the pursuit continued toward Lovell on Route 5, Corporal Matt Baker of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office deployed a spike mat on Route 5 near the Fryeburg-Lovell town line.  As Michaud reached the spike mat and drove over it, he slowed down.  Nonetheless, he continued north on Route 5 toward Lovell, despite the fact that three of the tires on his vehicle had been punctured by spikes from the mat.  As the tires slowly deflated, Michaud appeared to lose control of his vehicle; he abruptly pulled the vehicle to the right shoulder of Route 5 and stopped.  Trooper Hainey was directly behind Michaud in his cruiser.

When Michaud’s vehicle came to a stop, Michaud immediately exited the vehicle and, armed with a shotgun, started toward Trooper Hainey’s cruiser in an aggressive manner.  At the same time he “racked” the action of the shotgun (opening and attempting to close the pump action to deliver a live round to the chamber), and tried to discharge it at Trooper Hainey.  Trooper Hainey, who had stopped his cruiser 30 to 40 feet from Michaud, fired his service weapon at Michaud four times in rapid succession as he was exiting his cruiser.  One of the rounds struck Michaud’s vehicle, and another struck Michaud’s hat.  Michaud immediately threw his shotgun down and went to a prone position in the roadway near his vehicle where he was taken into custody by Trooper Hainey and Deputy Baker.

The shotgun was later determined to be a 12 gauge Mossberg pump action and was loaded with four live rounds.  When the shotgun was recovered at the scene, the safety was in the off position and the slide action was open.  Trooper Hainey’s in-cruiser video shows that Michaud ejected a live round from the chamber and appeared to be attempting to chamber another live round when Trooper Hainey fired his rounds.  The entire pursuit and all of Michaud’s actions were recorded by Trooper Hainey’s in-cruiser video camera.  The videotape will be available to the public only upon resolution of pending criminal charges against Michaud.

The Office of the Attorney General was assisted in the investigation by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police and members of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.  The State Police cooperated fully with the investigation and is conducting its own review of the incident.

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