Officers involved in three separate police shootings dating back to 2021 were cleared of wrongdoing following investigations by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Two of the shootings were fatal, and in each of those cases, the person killed by police was experiencing an apparent mental health crisis, had a gun and was shot following a standoff with officers.

In one of the incidents, a man was shot and killed by state police after firing a rifle and struggling hand-to-hand with officers over control of the weapon. In the second fatal encounter, a woman was killed after she pointed a handgun – later determined to be unloaded – at police who had tried to assist her as she was parked on the roadside.

The third incident involved a police chase through Lewiston that ended when the suspect backed his pickup truck toward an officer. The driver was shot by an officer, but survived.

Under state law, the Office of Attorney General Aaron Frey investigates all cases involving the use of deadly force by police to determine whether the officer’s actions were justified. Police are permitted to use deadly force if they fear their lives are in danger, if they face the use of deadly force by another person, or reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to defend another person.

Every police shooting in recent history in Maine has been ruled justified by the Attorney General’s Office. There is currently a backlog of 16 police-shooting investigations dating back to 2018 that have not been completed, according to Frey’s office. Often the cases involve people experiencing mental health crisis, are armed with a gun and are shot and killed by Maine officers.


The attorney general’s review does not evaluate whether the shooting could have been avoided or whether officers’ methods or approach should be improved – they look only at whether the shooting was legally justified. A separate panel convened by the Legislature examines what police could do differently in such situations, but it lacks legal authority and cannot compel change.

Summaries of the incidents and Frey’s decisions to clear the officers were released Wednesday.


The first shooting occurred Jan. 3, 2021, when Lewiston police attempted to stop a man driving a pickup truck that had been reported stolen. Investigators with the Attorney General’s Office said 26-year-old Kyle Edwards, of Auburn, was behind the wheel.

A Lewiston police officer attempted to stop Edwards on Main Street, but instead of pulling over, Edwards sped away, according to an investigative summary. During the pursuit, Edwards reached speeds of 60 mph through a densely populated area where the speed limit was 25 mph, veered onto a sidewalk, drove through multiple stop signs and made dangerous maneuvers to pass cars by crossing into oncoming traffic at high speed.

One officer pursuing Edwards was Lewiston police Sgt. David Levesque, who ordered the chase terminated when speeds increased, but police continued to search for the truck and Edwards. Levesque soon discovered the pickup behind a snowbank in the parking lot of a church, boxed in by trees and a snowbank. Levesque, with pistol drawn, approached the vehicle and ordered Edwards to show his hands, but instead of complying, he put the truck in reverse and attempted to back up toward Levesque.


The truck’s tires spun in the snow, and Levesque shot Edwards in the head through the back window of the truck.

“He tried to run me over,” Levesque said over his police radio after reporting the shooting.

Edwards survived his injuries and told doctors he had consumed methamphetamine and suboxone earlier that day. He later pleaded guilty to eluding an officer, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, and theft by unauthorized taking, all felonies, and was sentenced to serve about nine months of a four-year sentence.

Frey determined Levesque acted in self-defense.


The second police shooting occurred Feb. 25 in Pittsfield, and began when the parents of Gregory Lasselle, 27, contacted Pittsfield police and told them their son was out of control at their home, was suicidal, had threatened his parents with a fire poker and a tire iron, and had access to guns in the house.


The parents suspected Lasselle was in the midst of a mental breakdown and possibly under the influence of drugs, and they stayed at a hotel for a night. But when they returned home the next morning, Lasselle was still agitated and demanded that his father read to him from the Bible. Lasselle then retrieved a rifle, fired it, and threatened his mother as she called police until his father wrestled the weapon away. The parents fled the home and called police, and at 9:30 a.m., local authorities requested help from the state police tactical team.

For more than 12 hours, crisis negotiators placed 61 calls to Lasselle and tried reaching him through social media and text messages, but he did not respond. About eight hours after the standoff began, police obtained warrants to search the home and arrest Lasselle and drove an armored vehicle up the driveway, blue lights flashing, and announced the warrants over a loud speaker, but Lasselle did not comply.

The standoff ended when police tried to apprehend Lasselle as he emerged from the house to dump ashes from a woodstove. Officers sent a dog to tackle and bite Lasselle but it slipped on the ice before biting Lasselle’s forearm.

Lasselle dragged the dog back toward the house and fired a rifle round toward police officers, who were pursuing him on foot toward the front door. One of the officers, state police Sgt. George Neagle, holstered his handgun and tried to rush toward Lasselle. After Lasselle fired the shot, Neagle jumped or fell – he cannot recall which – onto Lasselle, who was still holding the rifle while being bitten by the police dog.

Neagle and Lasselle were on the ground struggling over control of the rifle when two other members of the tactical team, Sgt. James MacDonald and Corporal Paul Casey, rounded a corner and found the fight in progress. Fearing that Lasselle would regain control of the rifle, MacDonald leaned over Neagle and shot Lasselle, but Lasselle continued to fight, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Casey then fired multiple rounds; Lasselle was shot in the head, neck and chest, the medical examiner later found. The attorney general’s summary did not specify how many times Lasselle was shot. Frey determined the officers acted in self defense and reasonably believed that Lasselle was trying to harm them and had already shot toward officers before engaging in the struggle over the rifle.



The most recent shooting occurred Feb. 28, 2022, in Topsham, when a state trooper pulled over 37-year-old Kourtney Sherwood and wrote her summonses for driving with a suspended license and violating conditions of her bail, but the trooper did not arrest her and tow the vehicle. Instead, he allowed Sherwood to contact someone to come pick up the vehicle and drive her home, and the trooper left the scene.

About 30 minutes later, Sherwood’s wife called Sagadahoc County dispatch. Sherwood was still parked where she had been pulled over, was suicidal and armed with a gun, and was threatening “suicide by cop,” according to the attorney general’s summary.

Police shut down traffic in the area and a few officers approached Sherwood’s pickup. An officer used a loud speaker to tell Sherwood that she had done nothing wrong, but police would not leave until they got her some help. But Sherwood did not respond and refused to comply with their requests to put her hands out the window.

Sherwood then stuck a handgun out of the driver’s window of the truck. One of the officers on scene, Topsham police officer Mathew Bowers, believed Sherwood was about to shoot toward two other officers nearby. Bowers fired a single shot from a rifle, striking Sherwood in the head.

After she was shot, police broke the driver’s window to get into the truck. Between Sherwood’s legs was a semiautomatic pistol, which they discovered was unloaded. Sherwood was transported to a Portland hospital but died the next day. Her blood-alcohol concentration on the day of the shooting was .122 percent, well above Maine’s legal driving limit of 0.08 percent. Sherwood also had buprenorphine, a prescription opiate often used to help people recovering from substance use disorder, in her bloodstream.

Correction: This story was updated at 11:51 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, 2022 to correct the length of time of the case backlog.

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