AG: Trooper justified in shooting Lamoine man who was suspected of killing 2 relatives

Posted Jan. 04, 2013, at 12:09 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 04, 2013, at 6:29 p.m.
Leon Tilden
Maine State Police
Leon Tilden
The Tilden family home at 16 Bobolink Lane in Lamoine on in October 2012. Police say Leon Tilden, 27, killed his father and uncle outside the home early in the morning on Tuesday, Oct. 23, before Tilden was shot dead by police later that morning in an armed encounter.
The Tilden family home at 16 Bobolink Lane in Lamoine on in October 2012. Police say Leon Tilden, 27, killed his father and uncle outside the home early in the morning on Tuesday, Oct. 23, before Tilden was shot dead by police later that morning in an armed encounter.

LAMOINE, Maine — The attorney general has determined that a Maine State Police detective was justified in using deadly force when he confronted a Lamoine man suspected of killing two people, according to a statement released Friday.

Detective Randall Keaten shot and killed Leon Tilden, 27, during an armed confrontation at the Tilden family residence off Mud Creek Road on Oct. 23, 2012. Tilden was suspected of having shot and killed his father, Robert Tilden, 50, and uncle, Russell Pinkham, 49, that morning on the Bobolink Lane property.

According to the report, Tilden first shot and killed his father outside the Tilden home and then, when confronted by his uncle, shot and killed him as well. Tilden’s mother, Lori Tilden, was inside the home and called police to report the shootings. The report indicated she told police her son had driven off in Robert Tilden’s pickup truck.

When a Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy arrived a few minutes later, he saw the bodies of Robert Tilden and Russell Pinkham outside the home, according to the AG report. Robert Tilden’s truck was parked nearby at Pinkham’s residence, also on Bobolink Lane.

Keaten was part of a Maine State Police Tactical Team called to the scene to try to apprehend Leon Tilden, who was believed to be on the property.

“As members of the tactical team took up positions, they received reports that Mr. Tilden was possibly in possession of several firearms, including a 30.06 rifle, a 30.30 rifle, a .410 shotgun, a 20-gauge shotgun, and a .22-caliber pistol,” state officials wrote in Friday’s statement. “Tactical team members were also aware of reports that Mr. Tilden had expressed a desire at some point in the past to engage in a shootout with the police.”

The report added that state police were told that Tilden had been arrested in the past for assault and terrorizing, and that he had been arguing with family members during the previous days about his discharging firearms at night near the Tilden and Pinkham residences.

Keaten encountered Tilden after Tilden came out of Russell Pinkham’s home, according to the attorney general’s report. Tilden was running along a trail on the property toward other tactical team members and carrying a shotgun when Keaten saw him, the report indicated.

“Concerned with Mr. Tilden’s close proximity and believing that Mr. Tilden may be trying to flank team members placing them in imminent danger, Detective Keaten fired several rounds at Mr. Tilden from a distance of about 15 yards,” officials wrote in the report. “Struck by the gunfire, Mr. Tilden fell to the ground where he was taken into custody and provided immediate medical aid by a tactical team medic and local emergency medical services personnel.”

Officials indicated that, after Tilden had been shot by Keaten, police discovered the Lamoine man also was armed with a pistol and several loaded magazines. They said a sawed-off shotgun that Tilden had been carrying was also found near him and that a high-powered semi-automatic rifle later was found later in Robert Tilden’s pickup truck, which Leon Tilden had used after the initial shootings, the report indicated.

Attorney General William J. Schneider determined that Keaten was justified in using deadly force in firing at Tilden.

“[I]t was reasonable for Detective Keaten to believe that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself and other officers from the imminent threat of deadly force posed against them by Mr. Tilden,” the report stated. “Moreover, Attorney General Schneider determined that Detective Keaten reasonably believed that Mr. Tilden had committed crimes involving the use of deadly force, was using a dangerous weapon in attempting to escape, and was likely to seriously endanger human life unless apprehended without delay.”

Dr. Michael Ferenc, Maine’s deputy chief medical examiner, examined Tilden’s body the next day and found that his wounds were “consistent with Mr. Tilden having been carrying a long gun with his right hand on the trigger and his left hand supporting the barrel” when he was shot, the report indicated.

The surviving members of the Tilden and Pinkham families have declined multiple media requests to be interviewed about the shootings.

Immediately following the shooting, Keaten was placed on paid administrative leave by Maine State Police, which is standard practice in cases of the use of deadly force.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for Maine Department of Public Safety, said Friday that Keaten has been back on normal duty since November. He said Col. William, chief of Maine State Police, will oversee an internal review of the shooting that will be combined with the attorney general’s report. Keaten is expected to remain on regular duty during the internal review, McCausland said.

The report added that the attorney general’s finding resulted from an extensive scene investigation, interviews with numerous individuals, and review of all evidence made available from any source. Why Tilden allegedly shot and killed his father and uncle that morning “is beyond the scope of this report and beyond the authority and expertise of this office,” the report concluded.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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