An 18-year-old woman was fatally shot by Maine police in February. Her mother recently filed notice for a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers who fired the shots, the town of Vassalboro, Kennebec County, the Vassalboro Police Department, and the head of the Maine State Police. She was appointed the personal representative for her daughter’s estate by a Kennebec County Probate Court judge. She is seeking $500,000 in damages.
The victim was shot to death on February 10th of this year on Arnold Road in Vassalboro. A 25-year-old man was also killed in the incident. He was driving a truck in which the victim was the passenger. The man allegedly rammed into a police cruiser, and two Maine police officers and the Vassalboro police chief all fired their guns. The officers were responding to a reported robbery when the man hit the police cruiser. All three officers have been placed on administrative leave without pay since the shooting.
The woman claims that the victim was merely an innocent bystander. At the time the shots were fired, she’s said, the victim was not a threat to any of the officers or anyone else. She hadn’t committed a crime, and she wasn’t trying to escape or flee. The police didn’t need to use deadly force, she said, and “they could have took that car out.” Her notice of suit claims the agencies had inadequate training and policies to cause the use of force that caused her daughter’s death.
Neither the law enforcement agencies involved nor the Maine attorney general’s office have released information regarding the killings of the two people. It is unclear how many shots were fired, where the officers were positioned when they fired, which officers fired the deadly shots, and whether the officers believed their own lives were in peril. It is likewise not known whether either the man or the woman was armed. Pursuant to standard practice, the Maine attorney general has opened an investigation into the fatal shootings. Since 1990, however, the attorney general’s office has never ruled a deadly shooting by an officer to be unjustified.
The woman claims she’s suing so that police officers will be persuaded to use deadly force less frequently. “But from what I’m seeing recently,” she said, “that is not happening and that is the sad thing.” Her goal, she’s said, is to encourage law enforcement to change its policies.
The victim’s former boyfriend has called for the federal government to get involved. “The only chance of justice,” he said, “is for the FBI to take over the investigation. However, they won’t do that if the people want them to sweep her murder under the rug.” Likewise, the victim’s former friend started an online petition calling on U.S. Senator Susan Collins to get involved and seek justice. “There should be some sort of example set,” the man’s brother said. “Where the cops know they can’t just start shooting.” He doubted, however, that the attorney general’s office will end up charging any of the officers involved in his brother’s death. “I certainly don’t think that will happen.”
When the head of the Maine State Police was asked for comment, he said he was not aware of the notice of suit.
If your loved one was killed by another party’s negligence, you may need the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer to seek compensation. At the Neumann Law Group, our Massachusetts attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to victims all over the state. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
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