Farmington officials this week denied allegations that a 28-year-old veteran’s constitutional rights were violated when police shot and killed him in 2011, in a statement filed by their attorney this week.
The statement, filed Monday by Farmington’s attorney, is in response to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleging Officer Ryan Rosie used unreasonable force when he fatally shot U.S. Army veteran Justin Crowley-Smilek.
The lawsuit also names the town of Farmington and Police Chief Jack Peck, claiming the police department insufficiently trained Rosie to respond to people with mental illness, like Crowley-Smilek.
Town Attorney Douglas Louison’s response states there is insufficient evidence that Crowley-Smilek was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
Louison did not return calls seeking additional information.
Crowley-Smilek was armed with a large knife when he arrived at the Farmington municipal building on Nov. 19, 2011, and was shot a short time later by Rosie. The state attorney general later ruled the shooting justified.
When reviewing police shootings, the state Attorney General’s Office investigates whether the officer reasonably believed that deadly force was about to be used against him or someone else, and whether the officer believed deadly force was needed to prevent that.
Louison disputes the claim made by Crowley-Smilek’s parents that he was not a threat when he arrived at the station with the knife.
The statement from the town officials contests all allegations from the lawsuit of Ruth E. Crowley of Milwaukie, Ore., and Michael Smilek of Farmington that the town and police department placed officers on the road without proper training.
“Any alleged injuries or damages sustained by the plaintiff’s decedent were caused by his own intentional and/or criminal conduct,” according to the statement.
The lawsuit contends that Rosie panicked after he saw Crowley-Smilek had a knife. Rosie took cover behind a police cruiser and drew his service firearm and fired seven or more shots at Crowley-Smilek, killing him, according to court documents.
The lawsuit claims Rosie never called for additional police help or retreated back to the police station, all of which conflict with the state attorney general’s finding that Rosie used his lapel microphone to call for help.
In Maine, 42 percent of people shot by police since 2000, and 58 percent of those who subsequently died, had mental health problems, according to a report by the Portland Press Herald.
Other findings in the report:
• Nationally, about half the estimated 375 to 500 people fatally shot by police each year are mentally ill.
• The vast majority of Maine’s 3,500 police officers lack crisis intervention training.
• The Maine Attorney General’s Office, which investigates all police shootings, has never found one to be unjustified.
Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at: