A Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy acted in self-defense when he shot a Jefferson man to death last December.
That’s the conclusion from investigators with the Maine attorney general’s office, which released its report into the shooting death of 41-year-old Jacob E. McClure late last week.
Deputy David Bellows, Sgt. Matthew Day and Deputy Jerold Wilson were called to Route 17, also known as Rockland Road, about 1 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2020, after a 911 dispatcher received a call from the area and overheard what sounded like an assault, according to the report.
The officers searched the area for the source of the call until shortly thereafter Day came upon McClure’s lighted home, where he saw through a sliding glass door McClure and a woman, whom investigators did not identify, fighting.
After calling in the address to the other deputies, Day entered the home and ordered McClure “to get his hands off the woman.”
McClure claimed they were engaged in “theater,” and the woman denied calling 911 when Day asked about the source of the call, according to the report.
Once Bellows and Wilson arrived at the Rockland Road home, McClure told the three officers to leave before going down a hallway where he locked himself in a room.
Day confirmed the call came from the woman’s cellphone, after which she told them that she didn’t mean to call 911, saying “He’s going to be really mad thinking I called 911 on him.”
After talking with the officers further, the woman, who had red marks on her face, nose and mouth, told them she was afraid McClure was going to kill her, calling him “dangerous.”
Preparing to arrest McClure, Day and Wilson went to the door and asked him to come out and talk with them. When he didn’t open the door, Wilson breached it, but was confronted by McClure, who was pointing an AR15-style rifle in his face, prompting both officers to retreat down the hall after yelling, “Gun!”
Seeing both deputies retreating down the hall with guns drawn, Bellows ordered McClure to put down the rifle.
McClure, meanwhile, called for the woman to come out where he could see her, prompting her to move toward the hall despite the deputies’ orders not to move, according to the report.
Fearing McClure would shoot the woman if he saw her, Bellows repositioned himself and saw McClure standing in the doorway with a rifle and naked from the waist down. Bellows shot him five times, and McClure fell face down in the hallway.
An autopsy later found McClure’s blood alcohol level was 0.198 percent.
Investigators concluded that Bellows was “reasonably” afraid that McClure was going to harm the woman, himself or the other deputies. Given that McClure knew they were officers, had pointed a rifle at them and not complied with orders to put down the gun, investigators ruled that Bellows had acted in self-defense.
Bellows, who had been on leave since the shooting, resigned from the sheriff’s office Sept. 3, according to the Portland Press Herald.