June 20, 2018
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Machias police investigating ‘assault’ on officer that sheriff contends never happened

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — A Washington County corrections officer who is accused of falsifying an assault report remains suspended with pay while Machias police investigate an allegation that the assault was a fabrication.

On Monday, Sgt. Troy Lyons, 39, insisted in an interview with the Bangor Daily News that the assault did happen. Lyons seems baffled by accusations by Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith that the assault was a hoax and that Lyons’ wounds were self-inflicted.

Lyons reported on Oct. 29 that he had been assaulted at approximately 10:30 p.m. while conducting an outdoor perimeter check at the Washington County Jail in Machias. He was treated that same night at a local hospital for lacerations to his forehead and a bruised shoulder and put on paid administrative leave.

After an internal investigation, Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith concluded that the reported assault never happened, and that Lyons’ injuries were self-inflicted. Smith subsequently suspended Lyons and has asked the Washington County board of commissioners to terminate his employment.

Smith said Monday that he expects the agenda for the Dec. 13 board of county commissioners monthly meeting will include a hearing on Smith’s request to terminate Lyons.

“It was the night of Hurricane Sandy, and there were high winds,” Lyons said Monday. “I was outside making a cellphone call to my girlfriend, saying goodnight to her as I do every night, and I saw a shadow on the side of the fence. I walked around, through a bunch of obstructions, but didn’t see anything. Then I looked up and got hit, and went down, and I remember hearing a car squealing off.

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the corrections officer said. “I don’t know if someone was trying to throw some contraband over the fence, or what. I spooked somebody, and then they clocked me. I had lacerations to my face and injuries to my shoulder and the muscles in my chest, and my knee keeps popping out.”

Asked what possible motive Lyons would have for injuring himself, Smith said Lyons had used up all his sick leave and vacation days.

“That’s bull,” Lyons said Monday. “I’ve worked there 12 years, and I was just promoted to sergeant in April. When this happened I had 24 hours of vacation time, eight hours of sick leave and two days of comp time.”

Smith said he asked Lyons to agree to a polygraph examination “so we could clear him of this issue,” but said Lyons was advised to decline by the union that represents Washington County corrections officers. Lyons said Monday he has not retained an attorney, but will be represented at the Dec. 13 hearing by union officials.

“I live in Lubec, and, from what people have heard and read, my name is mud,” Lyons said Monday. “People come up to me and call me a liar. It’s been a very emotional strain. My injuries are healed, and nothing restricts me from going back to work, but they don’t want me back.”

No charges have been filed against Lyons, although the incident remains under investigation by Machias police. Machias Police Chief Grady Dwelley said Monday he would have no comment while the situation remains under investigation.

In the interim, Smith said, the jail is using part-time help to fill in for Lyons being off the job.

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