911 call that led to deadly shooting in Waterboro came from victim's home
Mar. 14—Before a York County deputy fatally shot a man in Waterboro last year, a 911 caller said the man was driving drunk, possibly armed and likely to lash out if stopped by police.
That concern about Tyler Woodburn's behavior and the tense moments after he was fatally shot by Deputy Levi Johnson during a fight on Sept. 7, 2022, were detailed in transcripts of 911 calls obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a public records request.
The transcripts, originally requested the day after the shooting on Rosemont Avenue, were released this week by the Maine Attorney General's Office, which last week issued a report that determined the shooting was justified.
Attorney General Aaron Frey said Johnson feared for his life during a fight with Woodburn over control of the deputy's Taser and gun.
The transcripts of three 911 calls connected to the shooting were redacted to remove all identifying information, including the names of callers and the exact locations they were calling from. But the first call at 6:48 p.m. appears to have come from someone at the home on Rosemont Avenue where Woodburn was living with his fiancee, Megan Sweeney, and her family.
The caller wanted to report erratic operation by Woodburn, who "just pulled out of our house" and was on his way to buy "hard stuff" at a local store.
"Um, he's been drinking since he got home. He was drinking before he got home," the caller told the dispatcher. "Open containers in the car. And I just — they went off to get more alcohol."
Woodburn, 30, pulled out of the driveway in a white pickup truck going 40 mph, the caller said, and was not going to be "driving like a normal person." Sweeney was in the truck with him.
The caller said Woodburn may have had a gun in his truck, described him as a narcissist who lied a lot and had been causing trouble — and said he was likely to be violent and run if confronted by police.
When a dispatcher asked if there had been any domestic abuse, the caller said that had been going on "for weeks now" and had continued that evening.
"And I'm — I'm worried because I don't know what he would do ... to her. Especially if — if you guys, you know, go and pull him over. I — I don't know if he'll run, if he'll crash into a tree, I don't know what he'll do. He's that volatile," the caller said.
After that call came in, Johnson was dispatched to look for Woodburn's truck, according to Frey's report.
When he couldn't find Woodburn, Johnson contacted the caller, who told him that a few days earlier Woodburn had threatened to shoot a neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Shawn Sanborn, if he intervened when Woodburn was being abusive, the report said.
A TENSE FIGHT
While Johnson was talking to the caller, the white pickup truck passed his cruiser, but he was unable to catch up. Johnson went to the home on Rosemont Avenue, where the truck was parked in the driveway, and a resident asked the deputy to remove Woodburn from the house.
Sweeney said in an interview days after the shooting that she hadn't known Woodburn was drunk when they left.
When they got back, she saw her mother and a deputy talking outside. Woodburn stepped outside, then tried to go back in after Johnson told him he was investigating a report that he was driving under the influence.
At that point, Johnson grabbed Woodburn's arm and brought him into the yard, according to the report. Sweeney said the deputy threw Woodburn down the stairs leading to the house.
The two began to fight. Woodburn grabbed Johnson's neck and tried to take the deputy's Taser. At one point, Woodburn was on top of the deputy, trying to grab his gun, the report said. The women pulled Woodburn off, giving Johnson time to get to his feet and try to reload his Taser.
But Woodburn again went for the Taser, this time knocking it to the ground, and lunged at Johnson. The deputy drew his weapon and shot Woodburn twice in the chest.
At 7:23 p.m., someone at the scene called 911 to report Woodburn was "fightin' with the officer."
Woodburn was drunk, but not armed "and he wasn't resisting arrest," the caller said.
A minute later, another 911 call came in, this time from someone across the street who could hear, but not see, what was happening.
"... the gun is going off," the caller said. "And we can hear her screaming."
The person calling from the scene described witnessing part of the incident and said two deputies were now there. Someone was doing CPR on Woodburn, but the caller wasn't sure if he was breathing.
Much of the call was unintelligible, according to the transcript, hinting at the chaotic moments after the shooting as dispatchers tried to get details. Both a man and woman could be heard speaking, and at one point, the man said to "get the kids inside." The attorney general's report does not mention any children at the scene of the shooting.
Woodburn, who had children and worked for an excavation company, died at the scene. An autopsy later determined he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.138%.
Johnson was treated at the hospital for multiple abrasions and contusions, including trauma on his neck. He was placed on leave while the attorney general investigated the shooting. He has since returned to work.
Under state law, the Maine Office o the Attorney General investigates all cases involving the use of deadly force by police to determine whether they were justified. Police are permitted to use deadly force if they fear their lives are in danger, if they face the use of deadly force by another person, or reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to defend another person.
Every police shooting in recent history in Maine has been ruled justified.