Report suggests some deputies responding to mass shooting were intoxicated

PORTLAND, Maine — An independent commission investigating the deadliest shooting in Maine history plans to include allegations in a report claiming that self-directed police officers caused “chaos” in the search for the shooter.

But the committee may not address the allegation that officers had been drinking in an armored vehicle before nearly crashing into another armored vehicle. Chairman Daniel Wathen said the commissioners plan to address some of the report’s “troubling allegations,” while others are beyond the panel’s scope.

The panel will meet again on Friday to hear evidence about communication and coordination issues.

The after-action report from the Portland Police Special Response Team leader indicated that a Cumberland County tactical vehicle nearly crashed into a Portland police vehicle, something that could have claimed lives, while noting that officers showed up to help without being assigned. This created the opportunity to do more harm than good.

“I have never seen so much self-dispatching, federal involvement in plain clothes and total chaos with self-dispatching in my career,” tactical team leader Nicholas Goodman wrote in the partially redacted report, which The Associated Press reported Tuesday. got hands. the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

The Cumberland County sheriff refuted allegations that one of his deputies was drunk after the report showed the armored vehicle had stopped to avoid a crash that could have been fatal.

Both the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police tactical teams responded to a location where the gunman’s vehicle was abandoned near the Androscoggin River on the evening of October 25, after the gunman, an Army reservist, killed 18 people and injured 13 others. at a bowling alley and a bar and grill in Lewiston.

The committee previously heard testimony from law enforcement officials about the chaotic hours after the shooting as agencies mobilized for a search and police officers poured into the region.

The Portland Report was particularly critical of self-directed officers. The report suggested that officers who arrived to assist in plain clothes — “similar clothing to the suspect” — created a dangerous situation where officers could have exchanged fire with each other in a wooded area near the gunman’s abandoned vehicle. The gunman’s body was found two days later at a nearby location where he committed suicide.

Tactical vehicles used by the Cumberland Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police were apparently unaware of each other’s presence.

The Portland team, which arrived first near the scene of the gunman’s vehicle, attempted to keep police cruisers off a bridge where lights turned officers into targets as an armored vehicle approached from the other side of the bridge and within 20 came to a standstill for minutes. up to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) from the Portland vehicle, the report said.

In the report, Goodman wrote that the “odor of intoxicants” was coming from the tactical vehicle driven by Cumberland County tactical team members, who said they were assisting after attending a funeral.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in an earlier statement that any report of drunk officers should have been filed at the time — and not six months after the tragedy — and he defended his deputies. He said in a statement that an internal investigation cleared the officers and that no one was determined to be intoxicated at the scene.