December 3, 2013

Maine town sued in shooting death of Army veteran

Justin Crowley-Smilek, 28, was shot by a Farmington police officer while carrying a large knife at town offices.

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

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Lorna and Michael Smilek hold a photograph of Michael’s son, Justin Crowley-Smilek, a troubled U.S. Army veteran who was shot and killed by Farmington police in 2011.

2006 Morning Sentinel File Photo

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“He has gone through the pre-service training, a 100-hour course,” Peck said in the weeks after the shooting. “Then we put him through a six-week training class. Then we have online training classes that are mandated by the state, so it wasn’t like we just threw him in a cruiser and said here’s a gun, have a good day.”

Crowley-Smilek served four months in Afghanistan before his discharge under honorable conditions in June 2007.

In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Crowley-Smilek had slipped into paranoia and delusion from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, according to family members and his girlfriend. He also suffered extreme back pain from a 30-foot fall from a helicopter in Afghanistan, they said.

Michael Smilek and Kary Laban, a licensed clinical counselor who treated Crowley-Smilek, said they did not believe he was suicidal.

Crowley-Smilek’s girlfriend, Destiny Cook, also of Farmington, said he had left his watch, his wallet, his cellphone and his therapy dog at his apartment, which indicated to her that he did not plan to return and that he wanted to die.

Michael Smilek said in an interview after the shooting that when Justin returned to Farmington as a civilian he couldn’t function in society.

Michael Smilek said his son took his medication at first and attended sessions with Laban at the Farmington Veterans’ Center for counseling and at the Togus veterans hospital. However, he said his son had stopped taking his medications shortly before the shooting.

Crowley-Smilek began getting into trouble with police back home in Farmington in 2007 when he was arrested on charges of operating after suspension, criminal mischief and violation of conditions of bail.

He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of violating the conditions of his release, according to newspaper archives.

In April 2010, Crowley-Smilek pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in connection with an incident at University of Maine at Farmington a month earlier, in which he was found in possession of a loaded handgun at a basketball game.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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