ELLSWORTH — Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has cleared former Maine Game Warden Chris Sargent of any wrongdoing for firing shots during a June 27, 2017, standoff in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor.
Frey issued his ruling on Friday. By law, the state Office of the Attorney General investigates any use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.
Sargent had shot at Alan Walton, 34, who was wanted by police for a number of matters, during an armed encounter at a Gouldsboro residence.
Walton had led police on a manhunt from Mount Desert Island to Gouldsboro, where the armed standoff occurred.
Authorities had to block off Main Street in Prospect Harbor as police attempted to defuse the situation. Law enforcement agents evacuated nearby homes and tried to contact Walton via telephone and public address system, but Walton made no move to surrender.
Frey said before Sargent fired his weapon, Walton had pointed a scoped rifle directly at Sargent and Special Agent Jacob Day after yelling that he would kill the two officers.
It was then that Sargent shot at Walton, the prosecutor said.
“Mr. Walton was unharmed and ultimately taken into custody,” Frey said.
Walton also yelled at police “If you come in here, you will all be leaving in body bags,” Frey said.
“It is our determination that when Warden Sargent shot at Alan Walton, he reasonably believed that Mr. Walton was imminently threatening to use unlawful deadly force against Sargent and other law enforcement officials in the area,” Frey stated.
Frey explained that the detectives who investigate incidents of deadly force in Maine are independent of any law enforcement agency.
Two conditions must be met for any law enforcement officer or citizen to be justified in using deadly force for self-defense or defense of others, Frey said.
The officer or person must believe he or she is being threatened with “imminent” deadly force, Frey said. Also, “the person or officer must believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.”
Walton pleaded guilty on June 8, 2018, to eluding a police officer, reckless conduct, criminal threatening, illegal possession of a firearm and several misdemeanor crimes, the attorney general stated.
“He was sentenced to two years incarceration with all but 17 months suspended and probation for two years.”
Sargent is now employed as a Hancock County deputy sheriff.