CYR PLANTATION, Maine — Attorney General Janet Mills has ruled that the April 23 shooting of a Cyr Plantation man by a Maine State Police trooper and U.S. Border Patrol agent was justified.
Mills, in a six-page report released Tuesday, said the officers had reason to believe that Neil Begin, 54, intended to use deadly force against them during an incident inside his mobile home on U.S. Route 1 in Cyr Plantation.
“Both officers reasonably believed it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves,” wrote Mills. “No criminal action will ensue against the officers involved in this tragic incident.”
Kate Simmons, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Tuesday that Mills personally contacted Sandra Parent, who was Begin’s live-in companion of 30 years, on Tuesday to share the results of the investigation. Parent could not be reached for comment by the Bangor Daily News, but Begin’s sister, Nancy Mar-tin of Van Buren, said Tuesday evening that many members of her family felt that the officers involved in the incident resorted to lethal force too quickly.
“This definitely could have been handled a lot differently,” said Martin. “Usually if the police find that someone is armed, they wait outside if there’s no one else in harm’s way. Instead, they ran in there and shot. It was unbelievable.”
According to the report, Maine State Police Trooper Robert Flynn was dispatched to Begin’s residence to investigate a complaint by some of Begin’s family members that he had used a hunting rifle to threaten his girlfriend, adult son and his son’s girlfriend the previous night. Begin, who reportedly was intoxicated at the time, pointed the loaded weapon at all three and repeatedly challenged his son to a fight.
Early on the morning of April 23, Begin ordered Parent to leave and take their son and son’s girlfriend with her. While they were packing clothes to leave, Begin allegedly grabbed his son by the throat, threw him against a wall and threatened to kill him, according to the report.
Trooper Flynn, along with U.S. Border Patrol Agents Robert Kipler and Rick Romann, went to Begin’s residence at about 11 a.m. that day to arrest him on a charge of felony criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Before that morning, Begin was unknown to the officers.
Flynn reported that after repeatedly telling Begin through the door to show his hands and “leave the gun inside,” he saw Begin through a window running to the other end of the home with a gun in his hand. After breaking down the locked door, the officers saw Begin at the end of a hallway and heard him working the bolt action of a rifle.
With the officers repeatedly ordering Begin to drop his rifle, the man responded by saying, “Why?” and “I didn’t do anything.” Begin then told the officers to get out of his house.
According to the report, the officers saw Begin moving his left hand to the rifle and leveling it at waist level toward the officers.
“Believing that Begin was about to fire the rifle, Trooper Flynn fired his service pistol and Officer Kipler fired a patrol rifle at Begin,” reads the report.
Begin fled behind a wall and a few seconds later reappeared in the hallway with the rifle still in his hands, according to the report. Flynn and Kipler fired again and Begin fell to the floor.
An autopsy later revealed that Begin was struck five times by gunfire and died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. After being treated at Cary Medical Center in Caribou, he was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he died on April 24. At the time of his hospitalization, Begin’s blood alcohol level was 0.248 percent, according to the report.
Much of the attorney general’s investigation was based on an audio recording of the incident, which was captured on a microphone worn by Flynn.
Detectives from the Attorney General’s Office, the Maine State Police, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency recovered evidence from the mobile home, including a bolt-action .30-06 rifle, a semiautomatic .22-caliber rifle and several marijuana plants.
Mills, during a brief interview with the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday, said a team of personnel from her office investigated the shooting.
“The team of investigators in the Attorney General’s Office is unaffiliated with any police department,” said Mills. “They’re detached and completely objective.”
Martin said in addition to resorting to their firearms too quickly, the police involved did the family an injustice by keeping to themselves too many details about what had happened.
“They said Neil had been shot one time. That’s all they told us,” said Martin. “By the time we found out how bad he was hurt, it was too late. We didn’t get to say goodbye.”