The state attorney general has ruled an Augusta police officer was defending her life and others last year when she shot and wounded a Riverview Psychiatric Center outpatient angered at the prospect of returning to the hospital.

Neither Officer Laura Drouin nor five others in the room were hurt during the confrontation, during which patient Jason Begin slashed himself with a knife and threatened to do the same to others, according to the attorney general’s report. Begin, whom Drouin shot three times, was treated for serious injuries at MaineGeneral Medical Center and has since recovered.

“All facts point to the conclusion that Officer Drouin acted to defend herself and others from the unlawful use of deadly force by Mr. Begin,” the report concludes.

Drouin, who initially was put on paid leave, which is standard, has been back at work since last February after an internal investigation by the Augusta Police Department determined she had followed correct procedure. Chief Robert Gregoire said Drouin is doing well.

The attorney general’s report, released Monday, described a tense confrontation that was ignited by news that a team of counselors intended to send Begin back to Riverview. Within moments, Begin pulled out a knife and began slashing his own arm while threatening to stab others in the room.

“Mr. Begin was armed with a concealed folding knife at the meeting,” investigators wrote. “He said it was his intention to kill himself with the knife if the team decided to send him back to Riverview.”


Begin, 37, was committed to Riverview in the spring of 2004 after he was found not criminally responsible in Androscoggin County on several charges of sexual assault, according to investigators. Begin hijacked a plane and crashed in Canada in an apparent attempt to kill himself when he was facing charges of gross sexual assault involving family members. He was found not criminally responsible because of mental illness.

Begin remained an in-house patient at Riverview until the fall of 2013, when a court order authorized him to enter an outpatient program that allowed him to live in a group home in the community. The court required Begin to attend regular sex offender and alcohol counseling and prohibited him from using alcohol or unlawful drugs.

“The court order also prohibited Mr. Begin from engaging in criminal conduct, and from using or possessing any dangerous weapon,” investigators wrote.

Begin remained in the community, living in a house on Green Street in Augusta, until January 2015, when Riverview officials learned Begin may have been using marijuana and selling it to other patients. Begin also had skipped a mandated alcohol counseling session. Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper ordered an outpatient services team of five mental health workers to meet with Begin. That session took place Jan. 12, 2015, in the Ballard Center, which is the former MaineGeneral Medical Center building. Investigators said Begin denied the allegations and offered to take a drug test, but the team members, after consulting with Harper, decided to send Begin back to Riverview.

“Before informing him of the decision the team discussed concerns that Mr. Begin, who had a well-known history of assaultive and threatening behavior … could become aggressive,” investigators wrote, noting that Begin is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 265 pounds.

The team called for an Augusta police officer to be there when they delivered the news. The team also hoped police would help take Begin back to the hospital.


Drouin, who responded to the request, was told Begin was calm but that the counselors were worried about how he would react when told of their decision. Drouin, at the team’s request, waited outside the office and out of Begin’s view.

Begin was seated, facing the door, and within reach of three team members when the conversation began. The two remaining team members waited by the door.

“When one of the team members informed Mr. Begin of the decision to recommit him to Riverview, Mr. Begin stood, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a knife he had been concealing, and raised it over his head while pointing it at the team member closest to him,” investigators wrote. “Mr. Begin said that he was not going back to the hospital and that ‘I should have done this moons ago.'”

Begin slashed his arm with the knife, described as an “ExtremeOps” folding knife measuring 7 1/4 inches overall with a 3 1/8-inch blade, before again pointing it at a team member, who was now backing away.

“As the team members retreated from the room, Officer Drouin advanced toward Mr. Begin after having been summoned by the team members at the room’s threshold,” investigators wrote. “She saw Mr. Begin stand, retrieve the knife from his pocket, and slash his own arm as various team members tried to escape the room past her.”

Drouin drew her weapon and shouted for Begin to stop. He refused. Drouin fired three shots as he continued to raise his knife and slash his arms. Begin, who was hit in the left shoulder, right chest and lower left rib cage, collapsed to the floor.


“Mr. Begin remained conscious and was provided immediate medical aid by Officer Drouin and members of the mental health team,” investigators wrote.

Begin was taken to the hospital with “serious” gunshot and knife wounds. He returned to Riverview Feb. 27. Begin in December petitioned the court to be released back into the community. A judge this week denied that request.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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