Two Piscataquis County law enforcement officers acted in self-defense when they shot a Medford man in an armed confrontation nearly two years ago, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.
Douglas Frank Hazen, then 40, survived the gunshot wounds.
Then-Milo police Chief Damien Pickel and Todd Lyford, chief deputy for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s office, both shot Hazen at about 3 p.m. April 26, 2019, outside his home after Hazen refused commands to drop his gun, according to the attorney general’s report released Friday.
Pickel initially used his stun gun on Hazen, but to no effect.
Hazen then began walking toward the officers with his gun at his side. When he was 10 to 15 feet away, he began pulling up on the gun when the officers fired.
Piscataquis County Sheriff Robert Young said Friday that his deputy was relieved to have the incident officially ruled as self defense.
“Once again, based on the actions of another, the officers were placed in a no-win situation,” he said. “We never truly know what a person is thinking when they decide to confront law enforcement officers with a firearm. I certainly agree the officers acted in necessary self defense. Few realize how heavily this weighs on the officers involved.”
Hazen was wanted on outstanding warrants and had been driving a gold-colored van without an inspection sticker and a license plate that had expired in 2016 when he passed Lyford on Medford Center Road, the report said. Lyford put on his lights and siren but Hazen refused to pull over.
Pickel was at the high school in Milo when he heard that Lyford was trying to stop Hazen, the report said. Knowing there were no other officers in the area, Pickel joined Lyford in the pursuit.
Hazen turned onto Patridge Lane, the unpaved road that led to his house. He stopped at the end of the driveway, ran into the house and retrieved a gun and confronted the officers, the report said.
Hazen was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment. He was released on May 15, 2019.
The following September, Hazen pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and one count each of failing to stop for an officer and driving with a suspended license. He was sentenced to two years in prison on the threatening charges and to 90 days on each of the other charges. He was ordered to serve the sentences concurrently.
Medford is a town of about 250 located between Howland and Milo in southeastern Piscataquis County.
Pickel died unexpectedly on March 31, 2020, at the age of 51 while serving as police chief and town manager for Milo.