PORTLAND — An Appleton man is accused of assaulting police officers and terrorizing the staff of a hotel after the Cumberland County Jail refused to accept the suspect shortly before on earlier charges Wednesday night.

The Portland Police Department issued a statement Thursday, Oct. 20, concerning the incident involving Steven Gruerman, 44, of Appleton.

Gruerman was stopped on Riverside Street by a Portland Police Officer on Wednesday, Oct. 19, shortly after 9:30 p.m., for operating his vehicle without a registration plate. The officer determined that he was operating under the influence and didn’t have a valid license and arrested Gruerman and towed his vehicle.

Gruerman was brought to the police station and submitted to a breath sample and was in the process of being issued summonses for the driving offenses when he realized that his vehicle had been towed and he wasn’t going to be able to drive home. Gruerman then began threatening the arresting officer and threatened to “blow up” the police station and destroy police cars, according to Portland police.

Because of the jail closure, the only option available to the officer was to remove the handcuffs and release Gruerman with an additional summons for terrorizing. Gruerman continued to threaten the officer and threatened to destroy equipment in the police department before finally leaving the station, Portland police stated.

“Under normal circumstances he would have been arrested and taken to the Cumberland County Jail, but due to the continued jail closure the jail would not accept him,” the Portland Police stated.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, just after 12:30 a.m., the Portland Regional Communications Center began to receive 9-1-1 calls from Gruerman in which he continued making threats to come to the police station, assault officers and damage police vehicles. Officers were assigned to the area of the station and found Gruerman on Fore Street near Franklin Street. The officer decided not to engage with Gruerman hoping he was leaving the area.

Within a few minutes a 9-1-1 call was received from the Hampton Inn at 209 Fore St. reporting that a man was inside the hotel threatening staff and out of fear for their safety they had locked themselves in an office.

When officers arrived, they found Gruerman inside of the hotel and he immediately began threatening them, threw a cup of hot coffee and punched a hole in a wall. Because of the escalating and ongoing behavior, the jail was contacted and they still refused to take custody of him. While officers tried to deescalate the situation, Gruerman told them they would have to shoot him and he assaulted an officer. During his arrest he continued to punch and kick officers as they were trying to take him into custody.

Chief Heath Gorham added, “This is beyond frustrating. Something has to be done soon as this policy is putting our officers and our community at risk. We were fortunate there were no serious injuries.”

A telephone message was left Friday morning with Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

Jails across the state and country have restricted who will be accepted as a way to reduce the inmate population as jails deal with staff shortages and COVID-19.

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon said Friday, Oct. 21, that the staff member who made the decision to initially refuse to accept the suspect made a bad choice. He said the suspect should have been allowed to be accepted by the jail. The chief deputy said that staff will be reminded of the county’s policy in the wake of the incident.