Deadly force review panel scrutinizes response before Pittsfield standoff and police shooting

Included in the panel’s observations is a passage stating, ‘this lack of law enforcement support exacerbated the risk of violence.’
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:55 AM EST
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PITTSFIELD, Maine (WMTW) - The board tasked with reviewing deadly police shootings in Maine is scrutinizing how law enforcement initially responded to a call in Pittsfield leading up to a 12-hour standoff that ended in a suspect’s death last winter.

The Office of the Maine Attorney General is tasked with reviewing the legality of deadly force incidents and has never brought charges against an officer.

The review panel, which released a report on the Pittsfield incident Friday, is an independent group created for the purpose of determining whether best practices were followed or whether practices require adjustments or improvement.

On Feb. 25, 2022, multiple law enforcement agencies converged on a Detroit Road home in Pittsfield after, according to a review by the AG, Gregory Lasselle, 27, fired a gun and pointed it at his father.

The night before, according to the AG, Lasselle’s parents walked into the Pittsfield Police Department and reported that he was out of control, suicidal and threatening them.

Rather than returning home, they spent the night in a motel.

The panel’s review states that when the parents checked in with the police the next morning, different officers were on duty, and none checked the home, nor did they accompany them as they returned.

“This lack of law enforcement support exacerbated the risk of violence to the parents and the community,” the report stated.

When the parents returned, the report states that Lasselle threatened to shoot the family dog and wrestled with his father for a gun.

When the mother called 911, the panel states that the dispatcher with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office didn’t appropriately reflect the urgency she was expressing.

The panel wrote that police took no action to secure weapons in the home.

They also stated in the report there’s no evidence Pittsfield Police reached out to any mental health professionals.

The standoff ended, according to the AG, when Lasselle fired in the direction of officers, prompting a struggle for a rifle he was holding.

Two members of Maine state police returned fire, action later ruled justified by the AG.

Pittsfield Police and the Maine Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.