Attorney General: Auburn police shooting of armed man in 2021 was justified

Apr. 19—AUBURN — A police sergeant was justified when he shot an Oxford man who fled a hostage situation on Center Street with a gun in hand, according to an Attorney General's Office report released Friday.

The report clears police Sgt. Steven Gosselin of any wrongdoing in the shooting of 36-year-old Joseph Arbour on Sept. 27, 2021.

Arbour was shot and killed that morning as he strode along Center Street, with a gun in hand. Arbour was shot after aiming the firearm directly at Gosselin and then refusing to drop the weapon as he continued walking toward a busy section of Center Street.

The confrontation between Gosselin and Arbour came after police were called to the Center Street Value Inn for a report that a man with guns was holding a woman hostage in a room there.

When Gosselin arrived, he spotted a man rushing away from the scene, wearing a backpack and carrying something in his hand, according to the Attorney General's report.

Gosselin asked the man to stop several times before trying to physically stop him as the man moved toward a number of Center Street businesses.

"Sgt. Gosselin reported that he tried to reach out and grab him, but the man turned, raised his right hand and pointed a black gun at him," according to the report. "In response, Sgt. Gosselin pulled his firearm and told the man to stop and put the gun down. The man then put the gun to his own head and threatened to kill himself. Sgt. Gosselin believes they were approximately 5 to 6 feet apart."

Gosselin continued asking the man to put the gun down, the narrative continues. But when the man refused to comply and continued heading toward a busy area, Gosselin "feared that the man would turn and shoot at him, or someone else, or that the man would take a hostage," according to the report.

Gosselin fired three shots, striking Arbour in the back and killing him. Toxicology tests later found multiple substances in Arbour's blood, including fentanyl and methamphetamine. The gun he had been carrying, a Hi-Point pistol, was recovered at the scene.

The Attorney General's Office began investigating and ultimately found Gosselin had correctly assessed that Arbour posed a threat to the officer and others when he refused to drop his weapon.

"All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion," according to the findings, "that Sgt. Gosselin reasonably believed he was acting in self-defense and defense of others at the time he used deadly force."

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