Report of the Attorney General on the Use of Deadly Force by Lewiston Police Officers on October 24, 2014

November 6, 2015

Synopsis

On October 24, 2014, Albert Crowley, 20, of Lewiston, was shot and wounded by three Lewiston police officers in Kennedy Park in Lewiston. The officers were Brian Bourgoin, Michael Dumond, and Zachary Provost.

Discussion

The Attorney General is charged by law with investigating any incident in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while acting in the performance of the officer's duties. (1) The detectives in the Office of the Attorney General who conduct these criminal investigations are independent of and unaffiliated with any other law enforcement agency. The purpose of the Attorney General’s investigation of the incident in Lewiston on October 24, 2014, was to determine whether self-defense, including the defense of others, was reasonably generated by the facts so as to preclude criminal prosecution of the officers who shot Mr. Crowley. Any such prosecution would require the State to disprove self-defense or the defense of others beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation did not include an analysis of whether any personnel action may be warranted, of whether the use of deadly force could have been averted, or of whether there is civil liability. Indeed, state law provides that the fact that conduct may be justifiable under the Criminal Code does not abolish or impair any other remedy available under the law.

In order for any person, including a law enforcement officer, to legally use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of a third party, two requirements must be met. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or against someone else; and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat. Further, whether the use of force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable must be based on the totality of the particular circumstances and must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a given situation. The legal analysis requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each case, including the severity of the crime threatened or committed and whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of others.

Facts

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, a domestic violence advocacy organization reported to the Lewiston Police Department that a local woman who had been physically abused by a former boyfriend, Albert Crowley, remained fearful of Mr. Crowley. She told an advocate that Mr. Crowley carries a loaded handgun and had threatened in the past to start shooting if confronted by the police.

On Friday, October 24, 2015, at 8:05 p.m., the woman called 911 and reported that Mr. Crowley punched her in the mouth and that he had been similarly assaulting her for the past couple of days. She said he had left her Knox Street residence on foot. While still on the phone with 911, the woman reported that Mr. Crowley was walking back toward her residence. She was instructed by the dispatcher to go into a room with a lock. She responded that the rooms did not have locks and that Mr. Crowley had a key to her apartment. She then told the dispatcher that she had to get off the phone.

At 8:13 p.m., Corporal Michael Dumond and Officers Brian Bourgoin and Zachary Provost were dispatched to the call and given all the information reported to 911 by the woman, as well as the previous information provided by the domestic violence organization. Corporal Dumond was within two miles of Knox Street; Officers Bourgoin and Provost were at the Lewiston police station, closer to Knox Street. All three officers were in uniform. Corporal Dumond was operating a marked police cruiser; Officers Bourgoin and Provost were within walking distance of the woman’s residence and responded on foot.

Arriving in the area of the woman’s residence, Corporal Dumond parked his cruiser and saw a man who matched the general description of Mr. Crowley walking into Kennedy Park. The area was dark but partially illuminated by street lights. Although he saw the man glance at him, Corporal Dumond did not initially interact with him. The officer saw several persons coming and going from the apartment house in which the woman resided. Observing Officers Bourgoin and Provost approaching the area on foot, Corporal Dumond asked them to make contact with the man walking into Kennedy Park. As Corporal Dumond got closer to the apartment house, he heard a woman call out, “That’s him, that’s the guy,” referring to the man walking into Kennedy Park. Corporal Dumond communicated to the other two officers that the man was Mr. Crowley. Officers Bourgoin and Provost attempted to catch up with Mr. Crowley, who was walking on the paved pathway of Kennedy Park. (2) It was nighttime and the park was illuminated, but Mr. Crowley continued to walk into a section of the park that was not well lit. Officers Bourgoin and Provost used their flashlights to illuminate Mr. Crowley. The officers both removed their handguns from their holsters while ordering Mr. Crowley to stop.

Mr. Crowley, his hands in his pockets, turned around and looked at the officers. He briefly took his hands out of his pockets at which time both officers saw an object in one of his hands, which appeared to be a cellular phone. The officers ordered Mr. Crowley to put his hands in the air. Mr. Crowley briefly put his hands in the air and stated, “I don’t know why you guys are stopping me.” He then turned and put his hands back into his pockets and continued walking away from the officers through the park toward Bates Street.

Corporal Dumond joined Officers Bourgoin and Provost. The three officers followed Mr. Crowley, while identifying themselves as police officers and ordering him to stop, remove his hands from his pockets, and get down on the ground. Mr. Crowley again removed his hands from his pockets, but quickly put one hand back in a pocket. Mr. Crowley said, “I ain’t doing that, I’m leaving.” Mr. Crowley continued to walk towards the top of the park. The officers requested that an officer with a Taser come to their location. Mr. Crowley moved off the paved pathway and stood behind a tree. When the officers saw Mr. Crowley pull a handgun from his pocket, they issued multiple commands for him to drop the gun. His response was to raise the gun and move from behind the tree with the gun still in his hand. All three officers fired their weapons at Mr. Crowley who was struck by the gunfire and fell to the ground, rolled over to his back, and raised his hands. (3) Medical aid was administered at the scene and Mr. Crowley was promptly taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Interviewed three days later in the hospital, Mr. Crowley said he took his gun from his pocket when confronted by the police officers in Kennedy Park in hopes the police would shoot him. “I wanted them to kill me so I could go meet my maker,” he said. Mr. Crowley said that was the reason he refused to drop his gun and the reason he did not shoot any of the officers. He said he held onto the gun knowing that the police will normally shoot someone who threatens them with a gun.

Mr. Crowley was charged by the Androscoggin County District Attorney with domestic violence assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, and attempted elevated aggravated assault.

Conclusion

Attorney General Janet T. Mills concludes that at the time Corporal Dumond and Officers Bourgoin and Provost shot Mr. Crowley, each of them reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened against them. It was reasonable for each officer to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself and the other officers from deadly force, as well as others in the park at the time potentially within range of Mr. Crowley’s weapon. The Attorney General’s conclusions are based on an extensive forensic investigation, on interviews with numerous individuals, and on a thorough review of all evidence made available from any source. All facts point to the conclusion that the officers in this case acted in self-defense.

(1) 5 M.R.S. 200-A.

(2) The intent of the officers was to effect a warrantless probable arrest of Mr. Crowley for domestic violence assault pursuant to 17-A MRS 15(1)(A)(5-B).

(3) Later investigation determined that Mr. Crowley was struck by three rounds of the 20 rounds fired simultaneously by the three officers. He sustained three gunshot wounds to his mid back, right shoulder, and right forearm. The firearm with which Mr. Crowley was armed was a .22 caliber revolver with a capacity of eight rounds. The firearm was loaded with seven .22 caliber hollow point bullets.

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Finding: Officers fired in self defense