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Two more deadly police shootings justified, Maine AG says

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said fatal shootings by police in Falmouth and Old Town were justified.
Credit: NCM

AUGUSTA, Maine — Deadly shootings by police in Old Town and Falmouth were justified, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said Friday.

Frey released results of investigations Friday into the April 14, 2020, death of 31-year-old Thomas Powell of Old Town and the Oct. 19, 2021, death of 51-year-old Daniel DiMillo.

Death of Thomas Powell in Old Town

When Old Town police Detective Scott Duff and Maine State Police Trooper Garret Booth shot Powell the morning of April 14, 2020 on French Island in Old Town, they knew Powell had shot at Cpl. G.J. Neagle and Trooper Eric Sucy, Frey wrote in an April 21 letter to Maine State Police Col. John Cote. They also knew Powell had fired his gun at neighboring homes and seemed to be looking for other targets.

"The officers reasonably feared" Powell was going to return to the house in order to again fire his gun, and his conduct "continued to pose an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury to the officers and the residents in the densely populated neighborhood, Frey wrote.

On the day before the shootings, detectives learned from Powell's mother that his mental health was deteriorating to the point that she tried to have him involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, but he checked himself out, Frey wrote.

Detectives traced a car involved in a series of burglaries to Powell's mother, who said he was driving it.

She told police, "the only way you can take him is if you kill him," Frey wrote.

Early the next morning, police found the vehicle at an Old Town home and received a 911 call reporting gunshots coming from the direction of that home.

State police used a loudspeaker to ask Powell to leave the house, then removed neighbors from their homes and surrounded the house when he did not comply.

Police subsequently heard Powell asking why police were there and urging them to "come here" and motioning toward him.

Three shots were then fired from the house in the direction of Neagle and Sucy. Police then saw Powell walk onto the front desk with a scoped rifle across his chest. They ordered him to drop the gun, and after Powell turned back toward the front door, Duff and Booth fired at Powell, Frey said.

Powell died at the scene of what was later determined to be three gunshot wounds.

Investigators late found three bullet holes at a home across from the home where Powell shot.

Death of Daniel DiMillo in Falmouth

In an April 15 letter to Falmouth police Chief John Kilbride released Friday, Frey said Sgt. Kevin Conger and Officer Peter Theriault "reasonably believed that Sgt. Conger would have been seriously injured or killed had they not shot Mr. DiMillo."

Police went to the intersection of Lunt and Middle Road the night of Oct. 19 2021, after receiving reports of a man carrying a long knife and running in circles, Frey said.

A man later identified as DiMillo reportedly emerged from the woods and crouched in "a fighting stance," Frey wrote, then ran at Conger with a stainless steel fixed blade knife. Theriault saw what was reported to be a 6- to 8-inch knife, later to determined to be a 4-inch knife, and the two yelled at DiMillo to drop the knife.

When he ignored the commands and continued to run at Conger, Conger fired his stun gun at DiMillo, then backed away and fell onto a car and then his back as DiMillo continued toward him.

Theriault shot once, and as Conger got this feet saw DiMillo run at Conger with something in his hand, Frey wrote.

As DiMillo came toward him in a "menacing way" and continued to ignore commands to drop the knife, both officers fired at DiMillo, who died at the scene.

The office of the chief medical examiner found seven perforating gunshot wounds and determined he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Frey said civilian witness accounts were consistent with those of police.

After shooting DiMillo, police found the knife he carried, as well as a pocketknife in his pocket, an expanding baton in his waistband and a pepper spray container. State police later found another folding pocketknife, as well as knives in two sheaths on his thighs, Frey wrote.

Falmouth police had gone to DiMillo's home 13 times between 2015 and 2019 "for issues arising from Mr. DiMillo's deteriorating mental health," he said.

Maine has the highest rate of fatal police shootings in New England, according to a database created by the Washington Post last month. With about 1.3 million residents, Maine has seen 29 deadly police shootings in seven years.

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