The Maine Attorney General’s Office has concluded its investigation into the fatal shooting of a Waldoboro man by a police officer a year ago, confirming that the officer – who returned fire after being shot himself – acted in self-defense.
“It is our determination that, when Officer (John) Lash shot Mr. (Jon) Alspaugh, he reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force against him was not only imminent, but had in fact already been used against him,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa J. Marchese said in a Jan. 5 letter to Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde. “It was reasonable for Officer Lash to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself from further injury or death.”
“These conclusions are based on an extensive investigation,” Marchese said. “All the facts and circumstances point to the conclusion that Officer Lash acted in self-defense.”
Marchese is the chief of the criminal division at the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The agency investigates every use of deadly force by Maine law enforcement. The prosecution of an officer who uses deadly force “would require the state to disprove self-defense or the defense of others beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to the letter.
Shortly before 1 a.m., Jan. 22, 2017, a 911 caller reported a domestic disturbance between Alspaugh, 57, and his wife, according to the report. The couple was in the process of divorcing, but were still living together in the home on River Bend Road, a gravel drive off Route 32.
When Lash arrived at the home, Alspaugh’s wife met him outside and told him Alspaugh had assaulted her and threatened to kill her, according to the report. Lash entered the house and spoke to Alspaugh as he was coming downstairs.
“At the foot of the stairwell, Mr. Alspaugh, within arm’s length of Officer Lash, pulled a small handgun from a rear pocket,” Marchese said in the letter. “As Officer Lash moved away from Mr. Alspaugh, Mr. Alspaugh shot at him, discharging what was later determined to be three rounds.
“Officer Lash returned fire. Mr. Alspaugh fell to the floor, fatally wounded. Officer Lash suffered a single non-penetrating gunshot wound to his right lateral chest area, the impact of which was largely absorbed by the ballistic vest he was wearing. Mr. Alspaugh suffered six gunshot wounds.”
Lash was transported to LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta, where he was treated and released, according to a press release from the Waldoboro Police Department.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office does not anticipate any further action, according to the letter.
Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said a citizen panel selected by Boothbay Harbor Police Chief Robert Hasch conducted a review of the shooting.
Labombarde said the panel was completely independent from the Waldoboro Police Department.
“The panel had a couple of policy recommendations for the department, but nothing that would have impacted the shooting itself,” Labombarde said.
Labombarde said Lash was on administrative leave from the time of the shooting until he returned to work April 4.