Girlfriend of man killed by York County sheriff's deputy says he was tasered, shot twice

Sep. 10—Megan Sweeney still isn't sure who sent police to her front door Wednesday night.

After her fiancé, Tyler Woodburn, got home from work around 6 p.m., he asked Sweeney if she wanted to go to the store with him.

They drove around a little on their way back, and on the dirt road near her parents' house in Waterboro, Woodburn "did what literally everybody in that neighborhood does and did a burnout," Sweeney said, describing how he revved the car's engine and spun the wheels in the dirt.

"Honestly, I think that's why the cops were called, because I don't know why the police showed up," said Sweeney, 27.

Shortly after the couple got to the home on Rosemont Avenue, York County Deputy Levi Johnson arrived. Sweeney and Woodburn live there with their children and her parents.

What happened next was terrifying, Sweeney said.

She watched as Woodburn and Johnson began to fight — a fight that ultimately took Woodburn's life.

Two days later, Sweeney is still trying to make sense of Woodburn's death and how it will impact their 1-year-old daughter.

"I want justice for him because my daughter now has to grow up without her dad, and it's the worst feeling," Sweeney said. "This is only Day 2. I guess it's just one foot in front of the other until I can learn to walk through life without him."

York County Sheriff William L. King Jr. said Friday that the Office of the Maine Attorney General is investigating the case and he was not able to answer further questions.

Jessica Maher, an attorney for the Maine Fraternal Order of Police, said in response to a request to speak with Johnson that he has no comment other than to say the case is a tragedy for everyone involved. Maher said further questions should be directed to the attorney general's office.

Dana Hayes, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office, said Friday that the office could not share more information on the case. When asked about specific details Sweeney provided, she said officials could not comment on a pending investigation.

AG DENIES REQUEST FOR VIDEO, 911 TRANSCRIPTS

The attorney general's office also denied a public records request from the Press Herald seeking video footage and 911 transcripts from the incident. The office said there is no video depicting the use of deadly force.

There is video recorded by the police unit that responded to the incident after the shooting, but the attorney general's office said that video would not be released because of a state law that allows records to be confidential "if there is a reasonable possibility that the public dissemination would interfere with law enforcement proceedings or constitute an unwanted invasion of personal privacy."

"For the same reasons, access to transcripts of any 911 calls is denied," Brian MacMaster, a special assistant in the attorney general's office, said in an email.

In 2013, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled in favor of The Press Herald over access to 911 transcripts, saying they are public records.

On Wednesday night, Sweeney said her mother initially spoke with Johnson outside when he arrived at their house. She wasn't sure what her mother said to Johnson, but when the deputy came up to the house, Woodburn was waiting. Johnson told Woodburn he needed to talk to him outside.

Sweeney said Woodburn told him, "No, we can talk right here."

She said Woodburn had been wrongfully jailed for an incident in Massachusetts years ago, and that he had a general dislike of police. But she said he hadn't been in trouble at all during the time they were together.

"When (Johnson) said that's not good enough, Tyler said, 'Fine. We're not talking,'" Sweeney said. "He shut the door and the cop went to kick my door in and went in and grabbed Tyler and threw him down our stairs, which is what instigated this fight."

Sweeney said Johnson tasered Woodburn seven times as the two fought. When she finally pulled Woodburn off the deputy, Johnson shot him twice in the chest.

She said she wasn't sure if Woodburn was holding the taser. She didn't think the incident needed to escalate to the point it did.

'I JUST KEEP SEEING HIS BODY GO LIMP'

"A taser is very different from a firearm," Sweeney said. "He could have shot him anywhere, and he shot him right in the chest from less than a foot away. And I just keep seeing his body going limp."

Sweeney said Woodburn was unarmed when he met Johnson at the house.

"If the cop didn't push him down the stairs, it wouldn't have happened like that," she said. "It just wouldn't have. I know Tyler. He's not one to just fight."

Sweeney said she heard the cop mention something about a possible OUI, but she said Woodburn hadn't been drinking that night until after they got home. "That's not something to take someone's life over," Sweeney said. "My little girl is never going to get to see her dad again."

Sweeney and Woodburn met about two years ago through a mutual friend. She said he fell in love with her after watching her care for his now 2-year-old son Eddie. They got engaged after Sweeney became pregnant with their daughter, Lilith, who was born last year. The family recently celebrated her first birthday with a bounce house.

Thursday night Lilith freaked out and wouldn't stop crying and saying, "Dada," Sweeney said. "She's only 1, but she knows."

The sheriff's office had identified Woodburn as a New Hampshire resident, but Sweeney said he was living in Waterboro with her and her family, though he previously lived in New Hampshire. A Maine criminal history record check turned up no results for Woodburn on Friday. The results of a New Hampshire criminal record check were not available Friday.

"There was no need," Sweeney said. "He already tasered him seven times. He could have at least shot him to wound him. He didn't have to kill him. He knew what he was doing when he pulled that trigger, and he shot him twice."