AUGUSTA — None of the three uniformed Augusta officers identified themselves as police prior to knocking on the doors and windows of a home in 2019 as they sought to arrest a man inside suspected of domestic assault.

One of the officers then shot and wounded the man, who was armed and had pointed a gun at an officer.

Officer Sabastian Guptill Contributed photo by Augusta Police Department

A state panel that reviews police shootings in Maine, in a report on that incident in which Augusta officer Sabastian Guptill shot and wounded 30-year-old Robert Farrington, indicates that officers should have taken steps to clearly identify themselves as police officers when they first knocked on the home’s door — loud enough so they could be heard inside.

The report of the Maine Deadly Force Review Panel, released last week, says the man who was shot, Farrington, told investigators he was woken up by his girlfriend who told him there was knocking on the bedroom window of the South Belfast Avenue home, in the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 2019. He told police he retrieved a gun and proceeded to investigate, saw vehicles in the driveway he claimed did not have their lights on, and thought he was being robbed. Though the panel’s report notes video of the incident indicates the property was well-lit.

“He then went to the sliding glass door, gun in hand, because he believed there were people on his property trying to rob him and he was going to deal with it,” the review panel’s report states of Farrington’s reaction. “He claimed he did not realize the people were the police. Video from one of the police vehicles, however, shows that there were two lights on outside the residence — one on the front of the residence and one on the garage — providing illumination of the driveway in which the police vehicles were parked. Additionally, the second police vehicle in the yard had its headlights on, which illuminated the marked police vehicle in front of it and was in view of the bay window from which Mr. Farrington reported looking out.”

The panel’s report notes there was “ambiguity as to whether Mr. Farrington knew that the individuals knocking on the doors and windows were police officers, potentially setting up the possibility that Mr. Farrington may use force in defense of his residence.” But the panel still recommended officers in such situations identify themselves as police officer whenever possible.


“To avoid any ambiguity regarding the presence or authority of law enforcement officers, whenever possible, a clearly identifiable officer should knock and notify persons in a loud enough manner to be heard inside the premises, or through other means, that the officer is a police officer,” the four-page report notes in the panel’s lone recommendation.

An investigation by the Office of the Maine Attorney General concluded that Guptill was acting in self-defense and was justified in using deadly force to protect himself because Farrington was raising a handgun at him.

The Office of the Maine Attorney General reviews each police shooting to determine if it was legally justified.

But the attorney general’s review does not look at how such shootings could potentially have been avoided, or suggest changes to policy or procedures that could help avoid them. The Maine Deadly Force Review Panel, created in 2019, aims to fulfill that role. Its purpose is to report on how the state can enhance the safety of the public and police officers and look at whether best practices were followed and whether practices require adjustment.

Augusta Police chief Jared Mills said Friday he reviewed the panel’s recommendations and “we are in the process of comparing their recommendations to our existing reviews, investigations, policies and procedures to ensure we are following best practices moving forward.”

An internal investigation of the incident by Augusta police resulted in no corrective actions and Guptill, who was placed on paid administrative leave after he shot Farrington, returned to work in January 2020.


Guptill was also one of two officers involved in the October 2021 shooting death of Dustin J. Paradis, 34, at the Bread of Life Shelter in Augusta. The state Attorney General’s Office is still investigating that shooting.

An Augusta Police Department review of the shooting at Bread of Life also resulted in no corrective or disciplinary action. Following a period of being on paid administrative leave after the shooting, the officers involved — Guptill and Sgt. Christopher Blodgett — returned to work in November 2021.

In the November 2019 shooting, Farrington was hit in the left leg by one bullet fired by Guptill. The injured man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. When released from the hospital, he was arrested by Augusta police on an outstanding warrant and charged, due to the confrontation with Augusta police that ended in him being shot, with a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a charge that was later dismissed.

The Maine Deadly Force Review Panel, in other findings from its investigation into the shooting of Farrington, concluded the three Augusta officers who responded made an appropriate choice in taking a low-key approach by knocking on the door and windows of the home for upwards of seven minutes, versus using escalating tactics like putting on the cruisers’ blue lights or using a bullhorn.

But the panel faults the internal review of the Augusta Police Department’s conclusion that the use of blue lights or other alerts would not have changed the outcome.

“While law enforcement members of the panel did not view the use of blue lights as warranted, it is inappropriate to draw the categorical conclusion that their use would not have changed the outcome,” the report states.

The report also states a woman was at home at the time of the incident and the officers appropriately ensured her safety by getting her out of the home and into a cruiser as quickly as possible.

The report states Guptill, while outside the home, saw Farrington inside the home through a sliding glass door and observed him raise a handgun in his direction, to the point he could see the barrel of the gun pointed at him. Guptill called out that Farrington had a gun and yelled “Augusta Police! Drop the gun!” Believing that Farrington was going to shoot him, Guptill shot at him while moving from the potential line of fire, shooting between what he thought was five to seven rounds. The report says that was the first time any of the officers identified themselves as police.

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