AUGUSTA — A Saco man who was a Cumberland County Corrections Officer faces both a felony criminal charge and a civil claim resulting from a June 12 shooting of a fellow corrections officer that occurred inside a vehicle in the parking lot of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro where they were attending a course.

Matthew W. Benger, 24, who also had an address in Brunswick, was in court Monday for an initial appearance on a complaint charging him with reckless conduct with a firearm and names Matthew Morrison, then 33, of Mars Hill, as the victim.

The incident was investigated by Maine State Police Trooper Travis Luce, and Benger was summonsed to court on the complaint.

Benger was at the Capital Judicial Center Monday with his attorney, Roger Brunelle, to be advised of the charge and told no plea was expected because it is a felony that would have to be presented to the grand jury.

A conviction on the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Assistant District Attorney Kate Marshall recommended that Benger be placed on personal recognizance bail with the condition that he have no contact with Morrison, and Justice Donald Marden agreed.


The case is set for a dispositional conference Sept. 14.

Brunelle also told the judge that he and an attorney representing Morrison would be discussing related civil litigation because a notice of claim had been filed. Marden said there was no bar to the attorneys speaking.

Three other people accompanied Benger to court and left with him.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney declined to discuss any medical information about Morrison later on Monday. However, she said he has been unable to return to work.

“The incident has had a devastating effect on his life and his family’s life,” she said.

The shooting occurred about 8 p.m. June 12 as three men — Benger, Morrison, and Cody Gillis, 25, of Brunswick were in Gillis’ truck which was in the rear parking lot of the police academy complex, located off Oak Grove Road.


A 9 mm handgun owned by Gillis was stored in the console of his truck. Benger was a front seat passenger and was handling the gun when it fired, striking Morrison, who was in the rear seat, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The three men were leaving the academy grounds for the evening, according to McCausland.

Benger and Gillis worked as Cumberland County corrections officers and Morrison was an Aroostook County corrections officer.

They were attending a five-week basic corrections training program at the academy when the incident occurred, McCausland said.

At the time, John Rogers, the academy’s director, said the three officers were in the fourth week of their correctional training, which takes place during the day, according to McCausland. The class involved 29 correctional officers from the county jails and the Maine correctional system, he said, adding that some officers commute from home and others stay at the academy during the week.

Morrison suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment.


After the hearing Monday, Brunelle said Benger was no longer employed as a corrections officer but instead was working for a private company.

“It’s a very fresh case,” Brunelle said. “We’re trying to find out what’s happening here and we appreciate the on-going discussion with the district attorney’s office. There’s a lot of information to gather here.”

He said a resolution would take some time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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