PORTLAND – Police fired at least 20 rounds at a Sumner man who was killed by sheriff’s deputies in January 2000, according to a motion filed recently in federal court.

The family of Daniel Bennett II, 32, filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages in the shooting death.

The suit is on hold while a U.S. District Court judge decides if there is enough evidence for the complaint to move forward.

An attorney for the family, Thomas Connolly of Portland, claims Bennett and family members were denied their federal civil rights – including those protected under the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution – when Bennett was shot dead by police in January 2000.

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from illegal search or seizure of their persons or properties, the Fifth Amendment protects against forced self-incrimination and the Fourteenth provides for due process of the law and equal protection.

Police have said they shot Bennett in the Upper Sumner Hill Road home of his mother, Arlene Bedard, after he fired upon them with a 20-gauge shotgun. The officers involved were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The family’s civil suit seeks damages for Bennett’s death, claiming in part that the officers were not properly trained by Oxford County.

Based on court documents filed by Connolly and Peter Marchesi, a Waterville-based defense attorney working for some of the officers involved in the shooting, police knew Bennett had mental health issues.

In his motion asking that the suit be dropped for lack of evidence, Marchesi also noted it was Bennett’s family that called police for help.

Marchesi’s motion, filed Dec. 1, shows officers involved in the shooting fired at least 20 rounds at Bennett. The motion maintains the shooting was justified as he first fired on the officers with a shotgun.

Named as defendants in the suit are Oxford County Sheriff Lloyd “Skip” Herrick; his former chief deputy, James Davis; deputies Christopher Wainwright and Matthew Baker; and a former sheriff’s deputy, James Miclon. Also named in the suit is Maine State Trooper Timothy Turner. The suit seeks damages from the county and from the individual officers.

According to Marchesi’s Dec. 1 motion, Wainwright fired at least 15 rounds from his .40-caliber handgun.

Believing Baker had been shot dead by Bennett, Wainwright then fired “several more additional shots” at Bennett, according to Marchesi’s motion. Baker fired four or five rounds from his AR-15, a semi-automatic assault rifle, according to the motion.

The officers knew that Bennett had walked earlier that day from Buckfield to Sumner – approximately 15 miles – during a snowstorm, wearing only slippers on his feet. And they knew that earlier in the day he had bludgeoned a small dog.

Marchesi’s motion notes the officers involved in the shooting were essentially trying to hold Bennett at bay while they waited for the State Police tactical response team and a negotiator to arrive. Marchesi also noted that Bennett shouted to his mother during the standoff, urging her to leave the house, saying, “… leave me the (expletive) alone, Ma, I don’t want to kill you, too.”

Wainwright, chief deputy of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday that he was not sure of the status of the case. He knew only that Marchesi had filed a motion for summary judgment.

“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Wainwright said.

He referred any further comment to Marchesi, who could not be reached for comment.

But Connolly, the family’s lawyer, expressed disbelief at Wainwright’s comment.

“He shot someone to death, and he describes it as frivolous,” Connolly said.

He also speculated that the case would not end without appeals.

“No matter what happens, the case is going to get appealed,” Connolly said. “If I lose, I will appeal it. If I win, I can’t imagine (Marchesi) wouldn’t appeal it.”

Staff writer Christopher Williams contributed to this report.


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