PARIS — A statewide panel has cleared a sheriff’s deputy any wrongdoing in a shooting in Lovell last month, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant said Monday.

Gallant said Monday a panel of former and current police authorities from across the state found Cpl. George Cayer’s action’s justifiable and the department’s policies instructing officers on how to handle armed confrontations “more than adequate.”

Cayer has been on paid administrative leave since May 20 when he shot 31-year-old Dennis Buffington of Nuthatch Road during an armed confrontation with deputies and Maine State Police.

According to Gallant, members were tasked with reviewing the facts of the incident to determine whether current department policy was understandable and effective in handling the situation, if changes are necessary to improve officer or public safety and if training protocols or equipment should be updated.

Gallant declined to release any new information on the incident, citing the pending investigation by the state. He said he expects a full written report “in a few weeks.” 

“Based on the materials and reports regarding the shooting that I presented them, they felt Deputy Cayer’s handling of that tense situation was well done and that he was completely acting within department policy and state standards,” Gallant said.

The panel’s oral decision came Friday, June 12, following a four-hour meeting. On Saturday, Cayer, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for the past eight years and previously worked for the Rumford Police Department, was cleared to return to work, Gallant said.

The five-member panel was comprised of Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett, Maine State Police Lt. Erik Baker, Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Steve Lowell and Gene Benner, owner of Bessey Motors in Paris.

Though neighbors recounted a chaotic scene, authorities have declined to comment on the details surrounding the incident, and a police affidavit has been sealed by the Oxford County District Attorney’s Office. 

Police arrived at the residence shortly after 1 a.m., following a 911 call reporting that Buffington was creating an armed disturbance at 52 Nuthatch Road. At some point, officers fired shots, and by 3:30 a.m., the situation was over.  

After undergoing surgery and spending a week recovering in the hospital, Buffington was charged with nine counts, including felony charges of aggravated criminal mischief, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and four counts of reckless conduct, as well as misdemeanor counts of assault, driving to endanger and discharging a firearm near a residence. 

According to the complaint, Buffington threatened to shoot a person, assaulted the person and destroyed their windows and a truck, which were worth more than $2,000. It also states he created the risk of harming three other individuals, drove a truck erratically and shot a weapon within 100 yards of a home. 

The incident remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, which is standard practice in police shootings. A spokesperson did not respond to emails seeking comment on when that report will be completed.   

[email protected] 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.