Two Aroostook County Sheriff’s deputies have been cleared in their use of deadly force, the Maine attorney general’s office said Friday.
The deputies were involved in two separate shootings and each was found to be justified in their actions, Attorney General Aaron Frey said in letters to Aroostook County Sheriff Shawn Gillen on Friday.
An April 14, 2021, shooting in Mars Hill resulted in the death of Jacob Wood, 28, of Littleton. Police shot at Michael Baron, then 24, in Stockholm on July 31, 2022, but the man was not injured.
The attorney general’s office investigates all cases of police use of deadly force to determine if the officers’ actions were justified, but it has never found an officer unjustified.
The shooting involving Wood was initiated on the afternoon of April 14, 2021, with a 911 call from a man who claimed he wanted to die and wanted help to achieve that, according to the report. The man said he was angry that a woman in the house wouldn’t kill him, and threatened to take her hostage and kill others to incite police to kill him.
Neighbors later confirmed the caller was Wood, the report said. Sgt. Erica Pelletier of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Isaac Ward went separately to the Mars Hill residence. Both officers saw Wood with his right hand around the woman’s neck, holding a knife to her throat.
Ward commanded Wood several times to let the woman go, but he refused the commands and threatened to kill the woman. Ward fired twice and Wood fell to the ground. He died at the scene, the report said.
Wood refused commands and Ward reasonably believed that Wood would kill the hostage, the attorney general’s report said. The office concluded Ward acted in defense of the hostage.
On July 31, 2022, a Stockholm resident called 911 to report a man had pointed a gun at him and demanded his vehicle keys. The caller ran inside his home and the man, later identified as Baron, shot several times at the house, according to the attorney general’s report.
The caller told Sgt. Nathan Chisholm that he was armed because he believed the shooter was trying to kill him. When Deputy Jonathan Stewart arrived, the caller directed the officers to a garage across the street where Baron was, the report said.
Both officers saw Baron raise a handgun and point it at them. Body camera footage recorded Chisholm saying, “Let me see your hands” before firing. Chisholm shot in Baron’s direction and Baron retreated around a corner, the report said.
Supporting officers on the scene told Baron they wanted to talk to him and to put the gun down. Baron came out, put the gun to his head and returned to the garage. He eventually appeared in a two-story house next to the garage. A woman and a teenage boy in the residence were evacuated safely.
Baron later emerged unarmed and police took him into custody, the report said.
When Chisholm shot in Baron’s direction, he believed Baron planned to harm him and others, since Baron had pointed a gun at the officers and had shot the resident’s home, Frey’s report said. The attorney general’s office concluded Chisholm acted in defense of himself, Stewart and Stockholm residents.