Attorney general: Trooper was justified in fatal shooting of Hollis man threatening suicide

Posted April 01, 2014, at 11:01 a.m.
Last modified April 01, 2014, at 11:35 a.m.

HOLLIS, Maine — The Maine attorney general’s office has concluded that the fatal shooting of a Hollis man outside his home by a state trooper nearly four months ago was a justified use of deadly force.

On Dec. 12, Trooper Tyler Stevenson shot and killed John A. Knudsen, 61, in the York County town during an incident in which Knudsen had reportedly threatened to kill himself and anyone who came into his Little Falls Road driveway.

“It was reasonable for Trooper Stevenson to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself and the other officers from deadly force,” states a Tuesday morning announcement from the office of Attorney General Janet Mills. “Trooper Stevenson acted in the defense of himself and others who were within range of and in the line of fire of Mr. Knudsen’s gun.”

According to the attorney general’s office, Knudsen’s wife called 911 on the morning of the incident to report that her husband was pointing a handgun at his own head and threatening to commit suicide.

His wife went on to tell dispatchers Knudsen had been drinking heavily and was upset about what the attorney general’s office described as “a recent leg injury that had left him physically impaired.”

Although Knudsen reportedly told his wife he would not hurt her, the dispatcher overheard him proclaim: “The next person who comes in this driveway, I’m going to shoot one, do you understand?”

Knudsen eventually ended up on the phone with a dispatcher and a police crisis negotiator, but refused to disarm himself. Members of a police tactical team had arrived at the location in the meantime and took up positions around the exterior of the residence.

Stevenson fired two shots — the second one fatal — from a rifle approximately 266 feet away from the home, when Knudsen stepped into the threshold of the doorway just after 2 p.m. and raised his .357 Magnum revolver in the direction of Stevenson and Trooper David Coflesky.

There have been 96 shootings involving police officers in Maine between 1995 and 2013 investigated by the attorney general’s office, 46 of which were fatal. Excluding a few open investigations, all the shootings have been ruled justified, according to data provided by the attorney general’s office in December.

To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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