AG: Topsham officer justified in using deadly force on woman who pointed gun out truck window

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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TOPSHAM, Maine (WMTW) - The Maine Attorney General’s Office says an officer’s use of deadly force in the shooting death of a Topsham woman was justified.

Attorney General Aaron Frey released the findings in the death of 37-year-old Kourtney Sherwood on Wednesday.

On Feb. 28, Sherwood was pulled over after turning in front of a trooper through a red light on Route 196. At the time, officials say she was driving around 45 mph. The trooper put on his emergency lights and pulled her over just before the Brunswick town line and the bridge over the Androscoggin River.

Trooper William Plourde learned Sherwood was driving on a revoked license and was under bail conditions keeping her from driving a vehicle unless lawfully licensed.

Plourde asked Sherwood to call someone to drive her vehicle home and the release states she said she could.

According to officials, Plourde left the scene after issuing a summons.

Sherwood’s wife, Stacy Beverage called emergency responders.

“She said, alright, I’m going to jail, someone needs to come to get the truck,” Beverage told WMTW in March.

At the time, Beverage recalled Sherwood telling her, “I’m gonna jump off the bridge, or I’m gonna friggin’ shoot myself or shoot somebody. You just need to get here!”

That’s when Beverage called the police and told them Sherwood claimed to have a weapon.

Beverage says her wife, a hard-working mother of three, had a long history of mental illness and worked to overcome debilitating symptoms but was struggling.

Multiple officers responded to the scene, shutting down traffic on the bypass. Thibeault attempted to then speak with Sherwood using a public address system.

During the interaction, Thibeault asks Sherwood to hold her hands up and put both hands out of the window, assuring her she has done nothing wrong and others were concerned for her wellbeing, the report says.

The AG’s report states, “Sherwood rolled down her window and indicated she would not be cooperative.”

Officials noted they saw the outline of a pistol through the back window, turned in their direction. Thibeault asked her once again to roll down her window to get her help.

At 2:58 p.m., a gun was spotted aimed outside of the truck window to Thibeault and another officer. The AG says Officer Mathew Bowers fired his gun once through the rear window of the pickup, hitting Sherwood in the head.

Bowers relayed he believed Sherwood was about to shoot Thibeault and the other officer. A dash camera captured the moment Bowers fired the shot into the truck.

Sherwood was taken to a hospital where she later died. The AG’s report states the pistol she had was unloaded. He adds she was legally drunk at the time of the incident.

In AG Frey’s conclusion he states, “When Officer Bowers shot Ms. Sherwood, he reasonably believed that Ms. Sherwood was about to shoot Deputy Thibeault and Officer Ruiz.”