The Attorney General is investigating the use of deadly force on Sept. 23 by a Bridgton police officer who allegedly shot at the rear tire of a car as the driver was trying to flee.

Officer Todd Smolinsky shot at the car driven by a woman whom police believe was Melissa Penpraese, 45, of Naples after the woman allegedly backed into the officer’s car and then drove away, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Attorney General’s Office. The officer’s use of his firearm was not disclosed in initial reports on the incident.

Smolinsky had initially pulled over a silver Ford Focus in Bridgton because the driver was speeding. She did not have her license, and when the officer returned to his cruiser to check on the information she provided, she drove off toward Naples. Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman said the chase did not reach high speeds, but the woman refused to pull over.

The woman drove to Accomac Road in Naples, one of a network of dirt roads in the area, where she backed into the cruiser, causing $1,500 in damage, Stillman said. The officer got out and ordered her out of the car, but she drove down another dirt road, he said.

“The operator gunned the engine and started to take off again,” the release said. “In an attempt to stop the chase Officer Smolinsky fired one round at the back tire of this vehicle. The round entered the car just behind the rear tire.”

The woman then got out of the car and ran into the woods, Stillman said.

The release did not say why the shooting was omitted from earlier reports and Stillman could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The report said the Attorney General’s Office was notified the night of Sept. 23 and conducted a thorough investigation. It said all questions about the shooting should be directed to the Attorney General’s Office.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said the incident is being investigated and would not comment on it at this time.

Police have not been able to locate Penpraese but a warrant has been issued for her arrest, charging her with operating after suspension, eluding police, reckless operation and aggravated driving to endanger.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman