AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Attorney General William J. Schneider has ruled that a Maine State Police detective’s use of deadly force against a Skowhegan man last year was justified.
Schneider found that Kemp Lybrook, who was 29 at the time of the Oct. 4, 2010, incident, posed an imminent lethal threat to Detective Mark Sperrey and other officers as he approached them with two firearms after an hours-long standoff.
The situation began at about 4:30 p.m. when Lybrook’s mother, who lives in Aroostook County, reported to police that her son was armed, despondent and expressing suicidal thoughts outside his home on River Road in Skowhegan. A crisis worker, as well as friends and neighbors of Lybrook’s, corroborated those concerns to Skowhegan Police Department officers who went to the scene.
Lybrook told officers who reached him on his cell phone that he didn’t want to talk with them and that his life was “not worth living,” according to a press release from Schneider on Friday. A neighbor told police that Lybrook was outside the residence in a nearby wooded area with a handgun, and that another neighbor was in the woods looking for him.
Skowhegan Police Chief Michael Emmons summoned the State Police Tactical Team, along with trained negotiators. Through the telephone and a public address system, they tried for more than five hours to coax Lybrook to relinquish his firearm and submit to protective custody and a medical evaluation. Tactical team members reported that they had observed Lybrook talking on his cell phone with a handgun pointed at his head. They also said that based on his trouble maintaining balance and at one point dropping the handgun, they believed Lybrook was intoxicated. Members of Lybrook’s family told police that he had spoken in the recent past about ending his life by committing “suicide by cop.”
Just after 9 p.m., Lybrook returned to his residence and then proceeded outside again drinking a beer and holding the handgun to his head. He tried to leave the residence in a vehicle but found the driveway blocked by police. Lybrook milled in and around the residence for more than an hour until Sperrey and Trooper Todd Stetson observed Lybrook loading an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle. They watched as Lybrook approached them with the .40-caliber handgun in one hand and the rifle cradled in his arms.
When Lybrook pointed the rifle at the officers, according to the press release, Sperry fired four rounds, one of which later was found to have struck Lybrook in the lower torso. Lybrook was given medical attention at the scene before being hospitalized. He survived his injuries.
“It was reasonable for Detective Sperrey to believe that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself and other officers from the imminent threat of deadly threat posed against them by Mr. Lybrook’s actions,” reads Schneider’s statement.
Members of Lybrook’s family could not be reached Friday. No charges were filed against Lybrook as a result of the incident.
Skowhegan Police Chief Michael Emmons said Friday that he was unsure where Lybrook was staying, but that he hadn’t “heard from him or seen him” since the incident.