Report: Maine LEO was justified in killing man who rammed cruisers

The officer feared his partner was in danger of being run over, the report said


By Christopher Burns
Bangor Daily News, Maine

GORHAM, Maine — A Gorham police officer was acting to protect other officers and bystanders when he shot a Standish man to death nearly two and half years ago.

That was the conclusion of investigators with the Maine attorney general's office, which released its report into the shooting death of 32-year-old Kyle Needham on Monday.

Needham was wanted on May 31, 2019, for eluding a police officer and probation violations after leading state troopers on a high-speed chase in Hollis 10 days earlier.

On that date, Needham's tan Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck was spotted about 4 p.m. at the Hannaford supermarket on Main Street in Gorham. When Officer Alisha Smith arrived, Needham's truck could not be found in the parking lot.

She shortly thereafter found the truck parked against a retaining wall outside a Burger King restaurant near the Gorham Village Shopping Center, across the street from the Hannaford, drawing other officers to the plaza, according to the report.

Officer Dean Hannon drove by the truck, but found it unoccupied. Then Needham and a woman, whom investigators didn't publicly identify, were spotted running toward the truck.

Hannon and Sgt. Nathan Therriault then boxed the truck in with their cruisers. The two officers emerged with guns drawn, and ordered Needham to turn off the truck, telling him he was under arrest.

Needham then rammed Therriault's cruiser. Therriault tried to pull the woman out from the passenger seat, while Hannon attempted to smash the driver's side window with the butt of his gun and elbow.

Needham again rammed Therriault's cruiser in an apparent attempt to push it out of the way. He then nearly struck Therriault, who was knocked to the ground by the open passenger side door when Needham reversed and then went to drive around the fallen officer's cruiser.

Fearing Needham had fallen under the Chevrolet and that he was at risk of being run over, Hannon shot through the driver's side window, hitting Needham in the chest and abdomen, according to the report.

Needham's truck then went 241 feet across the parking lot before slowing down, hitting a parked car and rolling to a stop.

Needham died at the scene.

A subsequent autopsy later found high levels of methamphetamine in Needham's system, according to the report.

Investigators concluded that Hannon "reasonably believed" Needham's aggressive driving was likely to injure or kill Therriault, other officers or bystanders — the shopping center was packed at the time with other drivers and pedestrians.

"All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion that Officer Hannon in defense of himself and others at the time he used deadly force," investigators wrote.

(c)2021 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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