Maine's Attorney General has found State Police justified in the fatal shooting of a man in Presque Isle in 2020.

How Did the Incident with Jacob Poitraw Start?

As is customary in all police-involved shootings, the death of Jacob Poitraw, 27, of Presque Isle was reviewed by the Maine Attorney General's Office. Poitraw was shot by Presque Isle Police Sergeant Tyler Cote during a pursuit that involved the suspect ramming his truck into Cote's police cruiser several times.

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Police were first alerted to Poitraw after an incident on the evening of June 4th, during which he allegedly pulled an AR-15 rifle on two other motorists. When someone in the second vehicle pointed a gun back at Poitraw, he left the scene. The incident was reported to Sergeant Cote, who determined that Poitraw was a convicted felon and so prohibited from possessing firearms. He also learned that Poitraw was known to be aggressive, particularly to members of law enforcement, and had been considered suicidal in the past, with a history of burglaries and drug overdoses. A temporary felony warrant was issued for Poitraw on multiple charges, including criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Sergeant Cote spoke with Poitraw's mother who told him that her son had attempted suicide over the weekend, but his girlfriend was able to administer Narcan. She said Jacob was upset over the death of his father and brother and cautioned the officer that he may have an AR-15 in the vehicle with him.

What Happened When Police Caught Up to the Suspect?


At about 6:30 the next evening, Sergeant Thomas Hafford reported to Cote that he had spoken on the phone with Poitraw, who he said was 'elevated' and told them he was not scared of the police. Jacob allegedly told Sgt. Hafford that he would be coming by the police station and that they had better have SWAT standing by. Cote began looking for Poitraw and spotted his late father's pickup at an apartment complex. As Cote watched, Poitraw got in his truck and began speeding away at a high rate of speed. Cote pursued the fleeing pickup through the streets of Presque Isle, which he said was sometimes crossing the center line on Main Street, into oncoming traffic.

Twice during the pursuit, Poitraw rammed his pickup into Cote's cruiser and then sped off again. When the two vehicles got to Davis Street, Poitraw put the truck in reverse and began backing up at a high rate of speed, aiming for the cruiser. Cote would later say that he was concerned he would be hurt or killed if the truck's much-higher bed came through his windshield. At the very least, he said, the impact would deploy his airbag, making it impossible for him to defend himself if Poitraw tried to shoot him.

Why did Sergeant Cote Pull His Firearm and Shoot Poitraw?

Cote made a quick decision and pulled his sidearm, firing one shot through the windshield of the truck, which then slammed into his cruiser. Officials say, from the time that Cote began the pursuit outside the apartment complex, through having his cruiser rammed twice, and then a third time after the shooting, only 3 minutes had transpired.

Poitraw was taken to a local hospital, where he died of a single gunshot wound to the head. A toxicology test revealed a level of methamphetamine that is known to cause violent and irrational behavior, as well as traces of amphetamines, fentanyl, morphine, and ketamine.

In his investigation, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey determined that Sgt. Cote was justified in shooting Mr. Poitraw, out of fear for his life and the lives of others. The complete report can be found on the Maine Attorney General's website.

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