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Maine Attorney General: Waterville officer's use of deadly force was justified

"When Officer Heath shot Mr. Porter, he reasonably believed that Mr. Porter was about to use unlawful deadly force against Officer Hill," Attorney General Frey wrote

WATERVILLE, Maine — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above aired Feb. 13, 2021.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has determined that Waterville police Officer Paul Heath used reasonable deadly force when he shot a man during a confrontation in February 2021.

Heath shot Eric Porter, 32, of Waterville, in the back on Feb. 11, 2021, as he was charging at another officer while holding a knife.

Heath was among officers who went to the Best Western Plus Waterville Grand Hotel on Main Street shortly before 11:30 p.m. after a caller reported that a man, later identified as Porter, threatened her with a knife in the hotel's parking lot.

"The caller reported that she was driving her car in the hotel parking lot when Mr. Porter approached her with a knife and yelled, 'What's the matter, [expletive]? You can't kill me. I'm un-killable,'" Frey wrote in a letter released Friday that was addressed to Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey. 

Multiple responding officers reported seeing Porter with a knife and said they ordered him to drop it, according to Frey.

Porter then ran across Main Street, up the northbound exit ramp of Interstate 95, and onto the highway. Officers found him sitting on a guardrail still holding the knife and said attempts to persuade him to surrender the knife were unsuccessful, Frey stated.

RELATED: Internal investigation report: Waterville police officer 'acted within policy' in fatal shooting

At about 11:37 p.m., Porter, still wielding the knife, charged at Waterville police Officer Jarrett Hill, who had positioned his cruiser to block the area of the confrontation from oncoming traffic. Porter continued to ignore commands to drop the knife, and Heath fired his gun twice at Porter, hitting him once in the back and killing him, according to Frey.

Subsequent investigation and analysis showed that Porter was 19 to 25 feet away from Heath when Heath shot him, according to Frey. Frey stated that Heath first tried to use nonlethal force by attempting to shoot PepperBall projectiles at Porter and trying to use a stun gun on Porter, but both were ineffective because of Porter wearing a thick jacket.

RELATED: Man fatally shot by police in Waterville

Toxicological testing showed Porter had 190 milligrams of methamphetamine and 5.2 grams of marijuana in his system, Frey stated.

"When Officer Heath shot Mr. Porter, he reasonably believed that Mr. Porter was about to use unlawful deadly force against Officer Hill," Frey wrote. "All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion that Officer Heath acted in the defense of Officer Hill and any others within range of Mr. Porter at the time he used deadly force."

Read Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey's full letter

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