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News / Nation & World

Sheriff denies that officers responding to Maine mass shooting had been drinking

By Associated Press
Published: May 30, 2024, 8:56am

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A sheriff is rebutting an allegation that some of his officers arrived at a mass shooting scene reeking of alcohol, saying in a statement that all officers were on duty or had just attended training before Lewiston police requested their assistance.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in a statement Wednesday that he “wholeheartedly” denies all allegations in a Portland police after-action report that suggested his officers had been drinking, had come from a funeral and dispatched themselves without orders.

Joyce said it is unfortunate that he had to defend against “unfounded allegations” that arose after the deadliest mass shooting in state history as officers from across the state headed to Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. In the dark, a Cumberland County tactical vehicle nearly crashed into a Portland vehicle near where the gunman’s vehicle was discovered after 18 people were killed at two locations.

Joyce said the driver of the Cumberland County mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle was a police officer who had been on duty in his municipality before reporting to the scene.

The leader of the Portland special response team wrote that he spoke to occupants of the Cumberland County vehicle and smelled “intoxicants.” He reported that they said they had come from a funeral and responded “we don’t know” when asked who dispatched them to the scene. A Portland police spokesperson said Thursday that he had no further comment on the report.

Joyce said in his statement that he was never made aware, until the Portland report surfaced six months after the shooting, of potential misconduct when he was at the police command post on Oct. 25 or in the weeks afterward.

“I am confident that our members responded to the mass casualty event in Lewiston in both a sober and professional manner. I am proud of my staff for their actions and response on that fateful day,” the sheriff said.

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