MONMOUTH — Police retreated from a standoff with a man suffering a mental health crisis on Wednesday morning, defusing the confrontation before an officer returned to the home in the afternoon to convince the man to go to the hospital for treatment.

Police responded to the scene because the man had barricaded himself inside and was attempting to set fire to the house at 30 Old Lewiston Road, Officer Michael Parshall said. The man, whom Parshall estimated is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, was three times with a stun gun with little effect. After determining there was no one else in the home and their were no guns in the house, the officers decided to leave him in the home.

“We did a tactical retreat based on the safety of everybody,” said Parshall, who has been trained to handle mental health crises.

There were no firearms in the house, police said.

Parshall returned to the home around 5 p.m. and persuaded the man, whose name is not being released, to get into his cruiser and go to St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston for treatment.

The man, who has no criminal record, cooperated with Parshall and wasn’t arrested, a police dispatcher said.


The man is an Eagle Scout and college graduate who is “a good kid” when he isn’t agitated, said Parshall, who knows him from joining rescue crews responding to medical emergencies at the home.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, didn’t know the specifics of the Monmouth standoff, but said that officers sometimes resolve confrontations by standing down.

“That does happen on occasion and always when there is not a law that has been violated, that sometimes we can back off and let family members or others resolve this,” McCausland said.

A series of reports by the Portland Press Herald in 2012 found that 42 percent of people shot by Maine police since 2000 – and 58 percent of those who died as a result – had mental health problems, and that Maine and the rest of the country have failed to employ methods or invest in training that could defuse life-threatening situations with mentally impaired people.

A bill under consideration by the Legislature this year would require all Maine police departments to have officers trained to deal with mental health crises by 2017.

Events leading to the Monmouth standoff began to unfold just before 6 a.m. Wednesday, when police were called to Phil’s Variety on U.S. Route 202 for a man acting erratically and blocking the store’s gasoline pumps with his car for more than hour. The man could not explain why he was parked in front of the pumps, Parshall said.


“He immediately became mildly uncooperative and hostile and paranoid,” the officer said. “I believed there were mental health issues, and the person would definitely need to be taken (for treatment).”

Parshall continued to talk to the man in an effort to coax him to get help. The man was sitting in his car when Winthrop Police Officer Timothy Falvey arrived to help Parshall.

“We both tried to communicate softly that he needed to be evaluated,” Parshall said. “The individual drove off with the door open to his vehicle.”

Parshall and Falvey followed the man to his home less than a mile from the store. When the man got out of the car, Parshall tried to put him in protective custody.

“I had to use my Tazer, which had no effect,” Parshall said. He said the man’s only response was to yell as he ran into the house with the stun gun wires still attached.

The man barricaded himself inside the house just on the other side of the front door. Parshall used his stun gun a second time, again to no effect.


Parshall said he and Falvey pushed on the door, trying to get in as the man held the door shut from inside with one hand and with his other hand lit fire to a U.S. flag. Falvey pulled it out of the house to keep the flames from spreading to the structure.

Falvey then reached past the door to hit the man with a stun gun, again with no effect. The man then ignited paper that was stashed by the door, but Parshall pulled it away from the house.

The man then broke a bulb in a lamp by the door and tried to hit the officers with the broken bulb, Parshall said.

“At that point we made a decision to retreat because we would have had to use deadly force,” Parshall said.

The man walked into the house as Parshall and Falvey set up a perimeter, called for additional help and tried to contact the man’s family.

Parshall consulted with the other officers at the scene as well as Capt. Ryan Frost of the Winthrop Police and Sgt. Nicholas Grass of the State Police Tactical Team and Cpl. Jason Madore of the Maine State Police Crisis Negotiation Team.


After talking to neighbors to confirm there was nobody else at home, Parshall left about 8:45 a.m.

“Based on that information, that there was nobody else there, the best situation was to actually retreat and seek help from family and the mental health system,” he said. “He didn’t make a threat to himself or others. By taking a step back, it allowed us to regroup, figure out a plan and calm the situation down.”

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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