TV station opts not to air video of man’s shooting

Posted Aug. 26, 2008, at 11:41 p.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – A suicidal man who was shot to death during a confrontation with police was the chief financial officer of a health care company who had a series of struggles in three days leading up to his death.

South Portland police were familiar with Michael Norton when they were called to his home Sunday night because they had responded to a similar call the day before.

Police Chief Ed Googins said Norton was taken to a hospital for evaluation Saturday. On Sunday, relatives told police that Norton had checked him-self out of the hospital and was again expressing a desire to kill himself.

He was in his house with a woman when police arrived around 9:30 p.m.

“Negotiators worked for over three hours to coax [Norton] to come outside so officers could determine his well-being,” Googins said.

At 1:38 a.m., the woman came out, unharmed. Fifteen minutes later, Norton came outside and was shot dead after an “armed confrontation,” the chief said. He died of a single gunshot wound to the neck and jaw, the state medical examiner’s office said Tuesday.

On video shot by WMTW-TV, Norton appeared to be holding something as he walked out of his home. Police can be heard shouting at him to drop what he was carrying. Norton was shot to death moments later.

WMTW-TV news director George Matz said the video was too graphic to be shown in its entirety.

The state Attorney General’s Office was investigating as it does in cases in which police use deadly force. South Port-land Officers Benjamin Macisso and John Sutton fired their weapons and have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Norton, 29, was chief finan-cial officer at Maine Centers for Healthcare, a practice with 11 doctors and five facilities in Greater Portland.

“He was bright. He was in-dustrious. He was good-natured and a very likable human be-ing,” said Owen Pickus, a doc-tor who owns the business and also is an attorney, now repre-senting Norton’s parents.

Pickus, who described him-self as a close friend of Norton, said it was Norton’s father, who lives in Eliot, who asked police to check on his son.

“What we were looking for Mike was to make sure he was safe and did not do himself any harm and got the necessary care to make him back to the very strong, industrious guy he was,” said Pickus.

Pickus described efforts to get help for Norton as a three-day process, beginning Friday night. He declined to elaborate on those efforts.

Norton had no significant criminal history. He was fined twice, in 1999 and 2000, for pos-session of marijuana, and was fined $200 in 2004 for criminal mischief after he broke a car window, according to court records. A 1999 charge of ob-structing government admini-stration was dismissed.

Last year, Norton got into a dispute with a tenant who ac-cused him of entering her apartment without permission and sought a temporary protec-tion-from-harassment order. The woman moved out and the order lapsed.

Norton’s parents, Terrence and Suzzanne Norton, declined to comment to the Portland Press Herald.

“At this point we are just stunned. Of course, we loved him very much,” Suzzanne Norton said.

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