WATERVILLE — A police officer was justified in the fatal shooting last year of a 32-year-old man in Waterville because the man was a threat to officers when he charged at them with a raised knife, according to a report released Friday by the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

The report, signed by Attorney General Aaron Frey, said Officer Paul Heath reasonably believed that Eric J. Porter of Hartland was about to use deadly force against another officer.

“(Porter) continued to ignore commands to drop the knife,” the report said. “Officer Heath discharged his firearm twice in the direction of Mr. Porter. One round struck Mr. Porter, who fell to the roadway where officers rendered first aid until emergency medical personnel arrived. Despite lifesaving efforts, Mr. Porter died at the scene.”

The incident began a little before 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 2021, with a 911 call that a man was threatening the caller with a large knife in the parking lot of the Best Western Hotel at 375 Main St. Several officers responded to the scene, including Heath, who was accompanied by a department trainee.

The man with the knife, later identified by authorities as Porter, repeatedly approached cruisers with the knife in his hand, the report said. He did not comply with repeated commands to drop the weapon.

Porter then ran down Main Street toward the Interstate 95 overpass and eventually came to sit on a guardrail. Officers repeatedly fired pepper balls at Porter but they had no apparent effect.


Heath approached Porter as other officers moved cruisers to block cars from approaching the area. Heath spoke with Porter and asked him to drop his knife. Porter did not and began walking toward the other officers, which led Heath to fire his Taser at Porter. But Porter was wearing a thick winter jacket and the Taser also had no effect, according to the report.

Porter then began to run toward another officer with the knife in his hand, and Heath fired his gun twice, shooting Porter once in the back.

A forensic examination found that Porter was roughly 20 feet from officers when Heath shot him, and the knife, which was roughly 10 inches long with a 5-inch blade, was recovered from the scene. Toxicology tests found both methamphetamine and marijuana in Porter’s system, the report said.

People staying at the Best Western Hotel had reported to the front desk earlier in the evening that Porter was acting in a “strange and threatening manner,” and that he accosted people outside the hotel and knocked on the windows of vehicles that entered the hotel parking lot, the report said.

Porter had “a prior history of mental health issues,” it said.

At the time of the shooting Heath had been on the force about three years. Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said Friday that Heath left the force last fall.

Clinton police Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell said Friday that Heath is a reserve officer for the Clinton department and that he also works full time for Pittsfield police. The website for Pittsfield police lists Heath as an officer.

Massey declined to comment on the state report, saying he had not yet had a chance to read it.

The Attorney General’s Office has investigated every use-of-force incident in Maine since 1990, and found that police in every instance — more than 170 times — were justified in firing their weapon.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.