PITTSFIELD — A state investigation has determined two members of the Maine State Police were justified in using deadly force in the February shooting death of a 27-year-old man outside a Pittsfield home where he lived.

The determination by the Office of the Maine Attorney General, announced Wednesday, was one of five police shootings statewide the office has said it found to be justified over the past week. In fact, every police shooting in Maine since 1990 — more than 170 — has been deemed legally justified by the state attorney general’s office.

Gregory Lasselle was shot and killed by two troopers, Sgt. James Macdonald and Cpl. Paul Casey, at Lasselle’s parents’ home Feb. 25 following a 12-hour standoff. Lasselle’s death came after a dramatic struggle with troopers who tried to subdue him as he held a rifle, according to a report released by the attorney general’s office.

“All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion that Sgt. Macdonald and Cpl. Casey acted in self-defense and the defense of others within range of Mr. Lasselle at the time they used deadly force,” the report said.

The events began when Lasselle’s parents contacted Pittsfield police with concerns their son was undergoing a mental breakdown or was under the influence of drugs. Officers tried to speak with Lasselle at the home before a state police tactical team was called in and the standoff ensued.

It was many hours into that standoff when officers attempted to arrest Lasselle by force when he walked out of the house. Officers deployed a police dog, hoping to tackle Lasselle, but the dog slid on the packed snow and was only able to latch onto Lasselle’s left arm rather than bring him to the ground, according to the report.


Several state troopers moved to confront Lasselle after the dog bit him. First was Trooper Miles Carpenter, who saw Lasselle had the rifle, and tried to hit Lasselle with the muzzle of his weapon, but slipped on porch steps and fell, according to the report.

Following Carpenter, Sgt. George Neagle saw Lasselle was on his back with the police dog on top of him, after Lasselle had pulled the dog into the home’s entrance. Neagle holstered his weapon to arrest Lasselle, when Lasselle suddenly fired the rifle toward other approaching tactical officers, according to the report.

Neagle told investigators he could not remember if he fell or jumped onto Lasselle, but the sergeant ended up on top of Lasselle, with both of them attempting to control the rifle.

Meanwhile, Macdonald came upon the pair and, seeing the struggle, leaned over Neagle and shot Lasselle, who went limp momentarily. But Lasselle — suffering a gunshot wound, with Neagle on top of him and the police dog still biting his arm — then began to wrestle again for the rifle, according to the report.

Moments later, Casey approached and shot Lasselle multiple times. He died at the scene. A handgun later was found in his pocket.

Prior to the confrontation with Lasselle, the standoff had continued for hours with few developments in the frigid weather. At one point, negotiators announced they had a warrant for Lasselle’s arrest, and he came outside the house to yell at an armored police vehicle. That warrant was for a charge of domestic violence criminal threatening with a firearm.


Another time, Lasselle pointed a bright light from the house, preventing officers from being able to see in, prompting them to fire a munition to shatter the light. At another point, Lasselle came outside with the rifle and kneeled on the ground with his hands behind his head, but ignored police commands before taking the weapon back inside the house.

The night before the standoff, Lasselle’s parents told Pittsfield police they were concerned their son was out of control. He had threatened them with a fire poker and a tire iron, and expressed suicidal thoughts, according to the report.

Officers attempted to call Lasselle, but he did not pick up his phone or return calls. Officers used binoculars to monitor Lasselle inside the house, but because his parents had reported Lasselle was suicidal and there were guns inside the home, they chose not to approach.

Pittsfield officers were joined by deputies with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and the state police tactical team before the lengthy standoff ensued.

In the days after the incident, the attorney general’s office and state police would not confirm whether Lasselle had been shot by officers, only saying there had been an “armed confrontation” that resulted in Lasselle’s death. Even after the state Office of Chief Medical Examiner announced the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, both agencies would not confirm state police had shot Lasselle.

Macdonald and Casey were placed on administrative leave following the incident, which is standard procedure in cases involving deadly force. Shannon Moss, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that Macdonald and Casey have since returned from administrative leave and are back at work.


The attorney general’s office in recent days has made several other determinations in police shootings that occurred elsewhere in Maine.

Two reports were released Wednesday concerning a nonfatal shooting by Lewiston police in January and the fatal shooting of Kourtney Sherwood by Topsham police in February.

Two more reports were released last Friday detailing a shootout in Lewiston on Nov. 18, 2020, in which no one was injured, and a nonfatal shooting in Augusta on Nov. 24, 2019.

As with the Pittsfield case, the other four investigations by the state attorney general’s office found officers had acted in self-defense and had reasonable reason to believe the suspects would use deadly force.

Editor’s note: This report was updated Friday, Aug. 26, with additional information from the state attorney general’s office.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.