Dustin Broughton is shown in this photo illustration in 2015 when he was a Dixfield police officer. Credit: Courtesy of the Rumford Police Department;

A Mexico police officer with a history of not following the rules and who shot two people within 12 months has been cleared in one of his two shootings.

The Maine attorney general’s office has cleared Mexico police officer Dustin Broughton in his Oct. 13, 2022 shooting of Daniel Tibbetts, according to a report released by the office Friday. Tibbetts’ case marked the third police shooting since October 2021 in Mexico, an unusual number for a small town of roughly 2,700 people, where residents have been rattled by the violence.

The attorney general ruled that Broughton reasonably believed that Tibbetts was posing an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death. Tibbetts, 22, survived the shooting.

According to the report, Broughton was the only Mexico police officer on duty at the time of the shooting and was responding to a call that Tibbetts allegedly threatened “a family member or girlfriend” with a machete in an apartment, according to the attorney general’s report.

While Broughton was on his way to the scene, another caller said Tibbetts left the apartment, was seen holding what appeared to be a machete and made statements that he was going to “hurt law enforcement or make law enforcement hurt him,” the report said.

Once Broughton and officers from the Rumford Police Department arrived, Tibbetts allegedly turned toward the officers who told him to drop the weapon. Tibbetts then continued to walk toward the officers with the machete still in his hand, according to the report.

That’s when Broughton shot the man three times.

Tibbets was charged with domestic violence criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and violating his conditions of release from a prior case, according to court records obtained by the Bangor Daily News after the shooting. The attorney general’s office called in the Maine State Police to investigate Tibbetts’ alleged crime.

Maine State Police Detective Benjamin Handzel said in his affidavit that Mexico police were responding to a “domestic disturbance.” The detective interviewed Tibbetts’ girlfriend and another person present, whom Tibbetts said was a former roommate.

Tibbetts’ girlfriend told Handzel she wasn’t afraid of Tibbetts, and she felt like she needed to call the police because he was out of control.

The former roommate told police that she saw Tibbetts holding a knife to his girlfriend’s throat and threatening her. But the former roommate also told police she had been drinking that night and “did not remember a lot.”

Police dashboard camera footage obtained by the BDN through a records request shows three officers approaching Tibbetts’ apartment building shoulder to shoulder in the dark. Within seconds, the officer on the far right fired his weapon, and three shots can be heard. Tibbetts — visible in the distance only as a shadow — dropped to his knees, then to the ground.

Another view of the shooting — from doorbell camera footage obtained by Portland television station CBS 13 that a resident said captured part of the altercation — showed three officers quickly entering the frame, yelling at someone off-camera to drop a machete. Within seconds, three shots rang out.

Last year, the Bangor Daily News interviewed Tibbetts about the shooting. The man offered a different view than the attorney general’s report.

The 22-year-old had just had an argument with his girlfriend, and he set out to kill himself, Tibbetts recounted. He had struggled with mental illness most of his life because he lost his dad as a 4 year old, Tibbetts said. His mother died in 2017, compounding his mental health struggles.

After the argument, he grabbed a machete and stepped outside to start slashing his wrists, Tibbetts said.

Moments later, he heard yelling from behind him, but he couldn’t make out what was being said. Then he felt what he thought were paintballs hitting his face, stomach and right leg. He fell to the ground, he said.

At the time, Tibbetts told the BDN he didn’t know the police were there or who was yelling at him. The shooting left Tibbetts with a scar on his face, and he lost 85 percent of his large intestine.

Part of a bullet is still lodged in his spine, he said. He can no longer walk properly due to the gunshot wound to his right leg and the bullet fragment in his spine.

“I can’t even use the bathroom right. I am pretty much dependent on people to get up and down,” Tibbetts said. “This has changed my life.”

Broughton has been a full-time police officer with the Mexico Police Department since March 2021. Before that, he worked for the Dixfield Police Department which has since been shuttered.

Broughton’s part-time employment with Dixfield police was not renewed by the town’s select board in 2019, after he was reported to the town for patrolling Mexico as a Dixfield police officer without permission — a violation of Dixfield police policy, according to records the BDN obtained from the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Broughton’s other shooting, of Matthew Marston on Oct. 8, 2021, is still under investigation by the Maine attorney general’s office.

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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...