Steven Saucier, a former sergeant with the Searsport Police Department, was the state’s first witness in the trial against 57-year-old Randall Hofland of Searsport, and he was also the first to be cross-examined by the accused.

Testimony in the trial against Hofland, who is serving as his own lead attorney, began at about 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, Jan. 10, after a setback involving Hofland’s request for access to his trial-related documents cut the morning session short. The trial resumed after Hofland’s materials were delivered from the Somerset County Jail in Madison, where Hofland is being held.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau asked Saucier to revisit the seat belt and traffic safety detail that he had participated in while he was working for the Searsport Police Department on the night of Oct. 23, 2008.

Saucier explained that several full- and part-time Searsport officers were assisting with the detail. The detail was initially set up at the intersection of the North Searsport Road and the Mt. Ephraim Road, Saucier said, and later in the evening, the detail was moved to East Main Street, which is also Route 1.

“What was the reason for having four officers on the eastbound side and two officers on the westbound side?” asked Rushlau.

Saucier said there was more eastbound traffic coming through the detail, which created a need for additional officers on that side of the road.

Saucier said the detail was routine up until officers began wrapping it up just before 11 p.m., when he heard a disturbance nearby involving his co-worker, former Searsport officer Jessica Danielson.

“I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but there was obviously some kind of disagreement,” Saucier said.

Saucier said he started moving towards Danielson in an effort to learn more about what was happening and to provide assistance, and that’s when he said he heard her alerting him and the other officers about the presence of a gun.

“I know she screamed, ‘Gun!’” said Saucier. “I believe she said, ‘He’s got a gun!’”

Saucier testified that as he was drawing his service weapon he approached the vehicle and ordered the driver to stop, but instead, the vehicle “accelerated pretty quickly” into the oncoming travel lane. From there, Saucier said, the vehicle turned between two vehicles and down a long dirt driveway.

Saucier said he jumped in one of the two Searsport cruisers that was at the detail and went after the fleeing vehicle, activating his emergency lights as well as a video camera that is mounted on the cruiser.

“Why did you stop [driving]?” asked Rushlau.

“I stopped because the vehicle I was pursuing had stopped,” replied Saucier.

Saucier said at that time, he could see that the vehicle was a light-colored Subaru wagon and that there was a male operator.

“I exited my vehicle and advised the driver to get out of the vehicle with their hands up,” Saucier said.

Meanwhile, Searsport officers Eric Bonney, Mike Larrivee, and Stockton Springs officer Darrin Moody were following behind Saucier, as was Searsport Chief Dick LaHaye and Danielson.

Despite Saucier’s commands, the driver backed the vehicle into a spot that was situated next to a boat and a box trailer and faced the officers. Saucier said he could see the male driver was upset because of his hand gestures, and he could hear some yelling but it was unclear to him what the driver was saying.

A few minutes later, Saucier said Bonney reported seeing the male leaving the vehicle and going into the nearby woods.

Due to a call for backup from Saucier, then-Maine State Police Trooper Jason Andrews and Waldo County Sgt. Dale Brown and Belfast Patrolman Mike Rolerson arrived to assist, and members of the Maine State Police Tactical Team were en route to the scene in an armored vehicle.

Saucier said he, Brown, Rolerson and Bonney took a look in and around the Subaru in an attempt to see if the driver was still in the area. Inside the vehicle Saucier observed a sleeping dog, but there was no sign of either the gun or the male driver.

Later in the evening, Andrews and Saucier were on a loudspeaker trying to get the driver, who by that point had been identified as Hofland, to come out of the woods with his hands up.

“Was the person involved ever taken into custody?” said Rushlau.

“No,” said Saucier.

When it was time for Hofland to cross-examine Saucier, he submitted a portion of the video that was shot from Saucier’s cruiser as evidence. The video, which was between five and six minutes in total length, depicted what Saucier saw as he left the traffic detail and headed down the dirt driveway after the Subaru.

The video showed a light-colored vehicle turning to face Saucier’s cruiser, and the courtroom filled with the sounds of various voices commanding the driver to get out of the car. At one point, Andrews is heard on the video referring to the male subject in the woods as “Randall.”

“Randall, this is the police, you need to come up with your hands up. No one is here to harm you,” Andrews stated in the video.

Andrews could also be heard speaking to Saucier regarding a case that was being handled by local private investigator Gary Boynton, who is a retired lieutenant for the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. Andrews further stated that Hofland’s name matched that of a subject that Boynton had been investigating.

Hofland asked Saucier if he knew Boynton previously, and Saucier said he had known of Boynton for all of his own eight-year law enforcement career.

Rushlau objected to Hofland’s line of questioning based on relevance, and Justice Jeffrey Hjelm sustained the state’s objection.

Hofland eventually brought his questioning back to the night of the seat belt detail, and asked Saucier if he recalled seeing him driving off before or after he heard Danielson yelling about the gun.

“I don’t recall,” said Saucier.

Hofland submitted into evidence a photograph of his own Glock handgun, as well as several advertisements for other small semi-automatic pistols, as well as his cell phone and an MP3 player with a black protective cover.

“Do you recall as I was driving by you in 2008 if I was pointing anything at you?” asked Hofland.

“No,” replied Saucier.

Hofland then asked Saucier a series of questions about his MP3 player regarding its size and appearance, and asked how a small, dark-colored handgun might compare in appearance to an MP3 player.

Saucier said the compact and subcompact pistols would measure about an inch-and-a-half longer than the MP3 player Hofland was holding up.

Hofland also asked Saucier if he had been trained on how best to remain safe while conducting a traffic stop, and Saucier said he was shown videos of officers being shot during traffic stops as part of his training.

“If you came up to a car and you were doing a traffic stop… and the driver and the passenger was obviously concerned about you, and they asked you to stay away from the car, what would you do?” asked Hofland.

“I don’t know, I’ve never had someone feel threatened by me,” said the officer.

At some points during Monday’s court session, Hofland’s questions and Saucier’s answers seemed to have the feel of a back-and-forth conversation more than a cross-examination.

“Did you point your gun at me?” inquired Hofland.

“I did,” replied Saucier.

Hofland also asked Saucier if he had ever been asked to read over or sign-off on the reports of his fellow officers, and Saucier said only when it was requested by the chief.

Hofland then asked Saucier when Danielson began referring to the weapon she said she saw in his vehicle specifically as a Glock.

Saucier said he didn’t recall when Danielson made that distinction, at which time Hofland asked Saucier if he was familiar with the Maine Criminal Code, particularly the section covering falsification. Hofland asked Saucier if he had ever known Danielson to falsify information regarding her cases.

At that point, Rushlau made an objection, and Hjelm sustained it.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Jan. 11.