A deputy U.S. Marshal and a Scarborough police officer, both assigned to a federal task force to catch violent offenders, were legally justified in using deadly force when they shot a suspect in Portland Jan. 27, according to a report by Attorney General William Schneider.

Arien L’Italien, 22, of Biddeford and Eagle Lake was being sought by the Violent Offender Task Force in connection with an aggravated assault in Biddeford. Police also had reason to believe that L’Italien was discharging a handgun recklessly and had been robbing drug traffickers.

Task force members, attached to the U.S. Marshal’s Service, tracked L’Italien to Portland and approached him in the early evening as he was walking on Mellen Street. Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Tenuta and Special U.S. Deputy Marshal John Gill, who works for the Scarborough police, ordered L’Italien and a companion to stop.

Both men fled and L’Italien opened fire with a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol and fired four shots at the officers who were about 15 to 20 feet away, Schneider’s report said.

Tenuta and Gill returned fire, each firing four shots. One of those shots hit L’Italien in the leg and he was apprehended.

Investigators were unable to determine which of the officers fired the shot that hit L’Italien, the report said.

L’Italien has since been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for assault on a federal officer, being a felon in possession of a gun and using a gun in a crime of violence.

Schneider determined the two officers legally believed that their lives and the lives of other officers were in danger and so were justified in using deadly force.

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