Maine’s attorney general has found a state police trooper was justified when he shot and injured a Thorndike man who was known to have mental health problems. 

Maine State Police Trooper Thomas Bureau II shot the man, Eric Fitzpatrick, in the abdomen  on Nov. 26, 2019, after he pointed what police thought was a Taser in one hand and a firearm in the other, according to Attorney General Aaron Frey’s review of the case. Fitzpatrick sustained a serious wound to his liver but survived. 

The Maine attorney general’s office reviews every case involving police use of deadly force to determine if the officer was justified. The office has never found an officer unjustified.

The November 2019 shooting was the climax of an hours-long affair between Fitzpatrick and the police. 

Bureau and fellow trooper Luke Martin were first sent to Fitzpatrick’s address around 9 p.m. that night after a neighbor called 911 expressing concern about Fitzpatrick yelling, according to Frey’s report. At the time, Fitzpatrick was living with his ex-wife. 

Nearly two hours later they were forced to return after the man, who was “on file as a schizophrenic,” according to an emergency dispatcher, was trying to use a Taser on his ex-wife and continuing to yell. 

When state police arrived, Fitzpatrick was in his ex-wife’s house, but once they demanded he exit, the man complied. However, as he came out the door he pointed a Taser and what looked like a pistol at one of the state troopers. 

Troopers told him to drop his weapons, but the man refused. 

Then Fitzpatrick’s ex-wife got out of her car to tell the troopers the pistol seen in the man’s hand was just a BB gun, but Fitzpatrick denied this and told the officers that it was loaded with “live ammo.” 

Bureau drew his service weapon, advanced toward Fitzpatrick and yelled to distract him from the trooper at whom Fitzpatrick was aiming his weapons. 

Bureau then fired two shots, striking Fitzpatrick in the abdomen. Once the troopers secured the man and administered first aid they saw that he was wearing a ballistic vest that didn’t have the plate that protects from bullets. Next to the man’s hands were a Taser and what appeared to be a pistol with a black grip and orange tip. 

Subsequently, it was determined that the weapon that looked like a gun was a pepper spray gun, according to the report. 

Bureau’s actions were justified because at the time, he believed that his and Martin’s lives were in danger, according to Frey’s report.

Fitzpatrick agreed to a plea agreement in 2021 and was convicted of criminal threatening and sentenced to three years in prison with all of it suspended in favor of two years’ probation. 

He was also convicted of domestic violence terrorizing with a sentence of three years in prison, all of which was suspended in favor of two years’ probation to be served at the same time as his other sentence. 

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...