Report of the Maine Attorney General on the Use of Deadly Force by State Police Sergeant on October 12, 2014

Synopsis

On October 12, 2014, Alan M. Gillotti, Sr., 52, of Ludlow, was shot and killed by State Police Sergeant Joshua Haines outside Mr. Gillotti's home on the Town Line Road in Ludlow.

Discussion

The Attorney General is charged by law with investigating any incident in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while acting in the performance of the officer's duties. (1) The investigators in the Office of the Attorney General who conduct these criminal investigations are independent of and unaffiliated with any other law enforcement agency. The purpose of the Attorney General's investigation of the incident in Ludlow on October 12, 2014, was to determine whether self-defense, including the defense of others, was reasonably generated by the facts so as to preclude criminal prosecution of Sergeant Haines. Any such prosecution would require the State to disprove self-defense or the defense of others beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation did not include an analysis of whether any personnel action may be warranted, of whether the use of deadly force could have been averted, or of whether there is civil liability. Indeed, state law provides that the fact that conduct may be justifiable under the Criminal Code does not abolish or impair any other remedy available under the law.

In order for any person, including a law enforcement officer, to legally use deadly force in self-defense or the defense of a third party, two requirements must be met. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or against someone else; and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat. Further, whether the use of force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable must be based on the totality of the particular circumstances and must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a given situation. The legal analysis requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each case, including the severity of the crime threatened or committed and whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of others.

Facts

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, at approximately 1:40 PM, a Bridgewater woman called 911 in Houlton and reported that a man had forcibly entered her home, threatened her with a gun, and left in a white van. A state trooper and two Aroostook County deputy sheriffs responded to the call. They learned that two men, Alan Gillotti of Ludlow and Timothy Slaton of Smyrna, arrived at the woman's house and, while Mr. Gillotti remained outside the home, Mr. Slaton kicked in a door, pointed a handgun at the woman, and demanded to know the whereabouts of her sister. The woman grabbed a hammer and pushed Mr. Slaton toward the door. A tussle ensued and Mr. Slaton pushed the woman against the door before he and Mr. Gillotti left in the white van. The officers learned that the two men had also gone to the woman's sister's home in Houlton and Mr. Slaton had also kicked in the door of that home to gain entry. It was reported again that Mr. Gillotti remained outside the home while Mr. Slaton forcibly entered. Two other troopers, Sergeant Joshua Haines and Trooper Timmy Saucier, were notified of the incidents.

At about 2:30 PM, Trooper Saucier observed a white van at the Smyrna residence of Mr. Slaton. Trooper Saucier attempted to reach him by telephone but was unsuccessful. (2) About ten minutes later, however, Mr. Slaton came out of his residence and spoke with the officers. He claimed that his white van was stolen during the night and was used to steal marijuana from Mr. Gillotti's home in Ludlow. He admitted to going to the woman's residence in Bridgewater in search of the woman's sister, but also claimed that he left the residence when asked to do so by the woman. (3) Mr. Slaton denied that Mr. Gillotti was with him. He told the officers that Mr. Gillotti was at his own residence in Ludlow. Sergeant Haines and Trooper Saucier set out for Mr. Gillotti's residence to speak with him.

The two troopers arrived at Mr. Gillotti's home in Ludlow at about 3:30 PM. Sergeant Haines recognized the home as one where he had been in the past, and recalled that Mr. Gillotti had been confrontational on that occasion. The troopers parked their cruisers off the roadway in sight of the residence, but not in the driveway. Both troopers were in uniform; Trooper Saucier was driving a fully marked cruiser. They noticed that the front door to the Gillotti residence was closed and the window shades were drawn. When Sergeant Haines got out of his cruiser, he observed Mr. Gillotti standing in the doorway holding a handgun in his right hand down at his side. Sergeant Haines drew his handgun and ordered, "State Police, drop the gun!" Mr. Gillotti responded, "No, it's my property, I don't have to." Trooper Saucier heard the command from Sergeant Haines and saw Mr. Gillotti with his forearms extended out of the doorway, pointing a black handgun in the direction of Sergeant Haines. Trooper Saucier drew his sidearm. Later investigation showed that Mr. Gillotti was approximately 89 feet from Sergeant Haines.

Sergeant Haines issued additional commands to Mr. Gillotti to drop his gun, but he refused. Sergeant Haines, who was outside his cruiser, retrieved a rifle. He noted at the same time that Trooper Saucier had drawn his sidearm but was out in the open and without adequate cover. Sergeant Haines continued to tell Mr. Gillotti to drop his gun; instead, Mr. Gillotti raised the handgun, removed the magazine, re-inserted it, and manipulated the slide to chamber a round, demonstrating to the officers that the weapon was loaded. In response to several more commands to drop the gun, Mr. Gillotti pointed the gun in Sergeant Haines' direction. Sergeant Haines fired several rounds from his rifle at Mr. Gillotti. Mr. Gillotti disappeared from his view. (4) Sergeant Haines and a deputy sheriff who had arrived at the scene approached the residence and found Mr. Gillotti deceased on the floor just inside the doorway. A black .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the "fire" position and loaded with nine rounds was near his right hand. (5) There was no one else inside the residence.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted a postmortem examination and autopsy the next day in Augusta, and determined that Mr. Gillotti died as a result of having been shot four times. At the time of his death, Mr. Gillotti's blood-alcohol level was 0.14%, and there were discernible levels of marijuana, Diazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Oxycodone, and Sertraline in his system. Mr. Gillotti was previously diagnosed with chronic pain due to trauma, osteoarthritis, back pain, pain disorder, and anxiety disorder.

Conclusion

Attorney General Janet T. Mills concludes that at the time Sergeant Haines shot Mr. Gillotti, he reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened against him and Trooper Saucier. It was reasonable for Sergeant Haines to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself and Trooper Saucier from an imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. The Attorney General's conclusions are based on an extensive forensic investigation, on interviews with numerous individuals, and on a thorough review of all evidence made available from all sources. All facts point to the conclusion that Sergeant Haines acted in self-defense and in the defense of Trooper Saucier.

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(1) 5 MRS, Section 200-A (2) At around the same time, Trooper Saucier also called Mr. Gillotti's cellular telephone number. Trooper Saucier was familiar with Mr. Gillotti through prior contacts, some of which included violence and firearms. A man who answered and sounded like Mr. Gillotti said he had the wrong number and hung up. (3) On June 17, 2015, Mr. Slaton was convicted of Aggravated Criminal Trespass (Class C crime) & Criminal Trespass (Class D crime) and sentenced to 39 days in jail. (4) The troopers immediately communicated that shots had been fired and numerous officers responded from around the area. (5) Later investigation disclosed ten additional live .45 caliber rounds in the right pocket of Mr. Gillotti's pants.

 

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