SMYRNA, Maine — Two officers acted in self-defense when they fired at a local man, killing him, after he shot at a deputy at point-blank range last year in Smyrna, according to the Maine attorney general.
Kenneth Kreyssig’s shot missed the deputy and then the two struggled over the gun before both the deputy and a state trooper fired at Kreyssig, according to the attorney general’s report made public on Jan. 11. Kreyssig was declared dead at the scene, and an autopsy by the state’s chief medical officer later determined that the 61-year-old died from three gunshot wounds.
The Feb. 10, 2015, shooting of Kreyssig was justified because Aroostook County Deputy Stewart Kennedy and Maine State Police Sgt. Chadwick Fuller “reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened against them,” ruled Attorney General Janet Mills, whose office investigates all shootings involving police.
The day before the shooting, a waitress at a restaurant in Smyrna reported to the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office that Kreyssig had become disruptive and thrown a glass of water on his mother, according to the report.
The mother told police when they arrived at the restaurant that her son, who lived with her in Smyrna, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but was not taking his medication, according to the report. She also said that he had been “arrested in the past for assaulting her, that he smoked marijuana, and that he had access to numerous firearms in the home,” according to the report.
Police later found Kreyssig, who had left the restaurant, at a friend’s house in Smyrna and requested that he stay away from his mother’s home for the night, according to the report. Kreyssig later talked about suicide, according to several people interviewed.
Late the next day, Kreyssig appeared distraught when he visited the Smyrna town office to ask questions about who owned his mother’s residence and learned that her name was the only one on the deed, the report states.
At that point, “he became very emotional, stating that no one cared whether he had a place to live after his mother died” and that he had been abandoned by his family and the government and “should just shoot myself.”
Kennedy was assigned to check on Kreyssig’s mother and contacted Fuller and trooper John Darcy for assistance, according to the report, and at about 7:15 p.m., all three arrived separately at the home.
After Kreyssig’s mother invited Kennedy and Darcy into the residence and said that her son was upstairs, Kennedy started up the darkened stairwell as Kreyssig started down, according to the report. The deputy reminded Kreyssig that they had met the day before, but Kreyssig “demanded to know why there were cars parked out in front of the residence,” the report states.
The deputy became suspicious that Kreyssig was hiding something and yelled at him to “show me your hand.” Kreyssig, who stopped about 10 feet from Kennedy, ignored the command and shouted obscenities at the deputy before turning and heading back up the stairs, the report states. Kennedy followed and was “only a step behind Kreyssig when he reached the upper half of the narrow stairway,” according to the report.
That’s when, according to the attorney general’s report, Kennedy “heard a loud pop and smelled a burning or smoky odor. He also saw that Mr. Kreyssig was holding a dark grey object close to his own face. As Mr. Kreyssig said, ‘[Expletive], I missed,’ Deputy Kennedy realized that Mr. Kreyssig had a gun in his hand and had discharged it.
“Deputy Kennedy ordered him to drop the gun to no avail. Sgt. Fuller [who was in the kitchen] heard the gunshot, heard Deputy Kennedy shout ‘drop the gun,’ and started up the stairwell. Fearing that Mr. Kreyssig would shoot him, Deputy Kennedy stayed as close to him as possible in an attempt to grab the gun or knock it out of Mr. Kreyssig’s hand. However, those attempts failed and once at top of the stairs, Mr. Kreyssig, still in possession of the gun, assumed a crouching position at which point Deputy Kennedy shot him twice.
“Sgt. Fuller, on his way up the stairs, heard the two gunshots and, based upon his observations when he reached the top of the stairs, he thought Deputy Kennedy had been shot. Mr. Kreyssig was about 4-6 feet from Sergeant Fuller when he turned his attention to Sgt. Fuller as if to engage him. In response, Sgt. Fuller shot Mr. Kreyssig.”
The report added that Kreyssig had a revolver in his left hand. Four minutes had elapsed from the time the three officers arrived at the residence.
Mills, whose office investigates all shootings involving police, ruled: “It was reasonable for each officer to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself and each other from deadly force.”