Maine's attorney general said Tuesday that a Maine State Police trooper who fired a gun at a Minot man during a standoff at the man's home in December was justified in using deadly force.
Janet Mills said in a written statement that Trooper Paul Casey shot at Michael Callahan, 44, of 185 Verrill Hill Road on Dec. 22 after Callahan barricaded himself in his home and fired about 90 rounds from at least three weapons during the six-and-a-half-hour standoff, police said.
Callahan was later charged with two counts of domestic violence criminal threatening, six counts of reckless conduct and a count of aggravated criminal mischief. He has denied all charges. His case is pending trial. His attorney, James Howaniec, said Callahan may be pursuing an affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.
No one was injured during the standoff.
State troopers and Androscoggin County deputy sheriffs responded to the home at about 10 p.m. on Dec. 21. after Callahan's daughter called police.
An investigation found that Callahan’s wife, Laurie Ann, and two children had left their home after Callahan, who was upset over the idea of the police arriving, loaded and displayed an AK-47 rifle with a scope, saying he wanted to die. Callahan followed his wife and children outside while he was still armed with the loaded rifle. They drove away.
Meanwhile, Callahan's brother and sister-in-law had gone to his home after getting a call from Callahan's son.
Callahan shot in the couple's direction after his brother tried to stop him from leaving in a truck. He went back into his house.
His brother, Matthew, went back to the house and eventually entered the building. Callahan fired shots in his brother's direction from upstairs. Matthew Callahan left.
Troopers and Androscoggin County Sheriff's deputies surrounded the home. Their locations were peppered with gunshots from inside the home. The Maine State Police Tactical Team, of which Casey is a member, was called to the home.
A Hostage Negotiation Team tried to reach Callahan by phone and made 48 calls that went unanswered. The team used a loud speaker to try to communicate with Callahan, who only responded with more gunshots that struck trees and limbs near where police were stationed.
Casey established a line of sight by the sound of gunshots coming from the house. He saw what he believed was the silhouette of Callahan, firing from inside the house through a window in the daylight basement. Casey aimed and fired several rounds at that window.
Later, the police investigation showed that Casey had been roughly 165 feet from the house. He had fired 16 rounds in Callahan's direction. While none of those rounds struck Callahan, he walked out of the house and was taken into custody within minutes of Casey's rounds being fired.
The Attorney General's Office is charged by law to investigate any use of deadly force involving Maine law enforcement.
Under Maine law, for any person to be justified in using deadly force for self-defense or the defense of others, two requirements must be met: The person must reasonably believe that deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or against someone else, and the person must reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.
Mills concluded that it was reasonable for Casey to believe that deadly force was imminently threatened against himself and other officers. In fact, Callahan had already fired dozens of rounds in the direction of the police from a high-powered rifle and a machine gun, and the officers had good reason to fear for their safety. In addition, it was reasonable for Casey to believe that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself and other officers from the imminent threat of deadly force posed against them by Callahan’s actions, Mills said.
Police found more than 50 firearms in Callahan's house, some fully loaded. They were all seized, including 22 handguns, 26 rifles, and six shotguns. Also found in the house were easily accessible stores of ammunition and a pair of night goggles.