A state representative has filed a complaint about the Maine State Police giving a coveted award to a trooper who has been accused of racial profiling.

A federal prosecutor dismissed a criminal case in September after the defendant’s attorney pointed to a video of Trooper John Darcy describing the man he was pulling over as looking “like a thug.” The Maine State Police promised in October to conduct an internal review of that traffic stop, and judges are considering motions to suppress evidence collected by Darcy in at least two other federal cases.

Still, the state police announced in November that Darcy was named Trooper of the Year for 2019, the same year the cruiser microphone captured his comments.

This video contains vulgar language. Trooper John Darcy is heard speaking with an unidentified trooper and can later be seen questioning the driver of a vehicle he pulled over. Darcy later found drugs in the car, but the case was dropped after the video was introduced as evidence of what the defense attorney called racial profiling.

“The member selected as the Trooper of the Year must meet several criteria based on meritorious service to the citizens of Maine, bravery, solving crime, combating drug problems, social service, and upholding the core values of INTEGRITY, FAIRNESS, COMPASSION, and EXCELLENCE as their guide as they strive to set the example for all to follow,” the announcement said.

State Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent from Friendship, emailed his written complaint Wednesday to the state’s top law enforcement officials. He asked Michael Sauschuck, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, to investigate the allegations against Darcy and explain why he received the Trooper of the Year award.


“Again, how could it be possible that with Darcy’s poor record, he received the highest citation?” Evangelos wrote. “Either the Maine State Police Commanders don’t watch the nightly news on television and are devoid of the knowledge of the tragedies sweeping the nation in reference to police misconduct and racial profiling, or this award was sent as a signal against the movement for racial equity and justice. In light of this, I am asking that your probe of Darcy’s misconduct include an investigation into the motives behind the presentation of this award to Darcy by the high command of the Maine State Police.”

Sauschuck responded to Evangelos by email to say that he would “forward it along for review and investigation.” An attorney for the Maine State Police said he would not be able to respond by deadline Wednesday to questions from the Portland Press Herald, including the status of the review of that traffic stop and the reason Darcy won the prestigious award.

The Maine State Police denied a request to interview Darcy last year and did not respond to another request Wednesday.

Darcy was publicly accused of racial profiling after a traffic stop on Aug. 15, 2019. Darcy, who is white, pulled over a Black man who was driving north through York on Interstate 95. The internal microphone in the cruiser recorded his comments to another trooper moments before the stop, and they are quoted in multiple motions later filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland.

“This guy kinda looks like a thug to be honest with you,” Darcy said to an unidentified trooper riding with him.

Darcy went on to say the driver in question looked “like a thug” because “he’s wearing a wifebeater” and “he’s got dreads.” A “wifebeater” is a reference to a sleeveless white shirt. He then tells the other trooper that he is not racially profiling the man.


“I hate when people try to make it seem like that’s what it is,” Darcy said. “I care about where people are from, and the way they seem … you know what I mean? Do they seem like they can be involved in drug dealing or gangs or something. I don’t give a (expletive) if someone’s black or white.”

Darcy then stopped the man for driving in the middle lane of the three-lane highway without passing or overtaking any other vehicles. Maine law says that drivers should stay in the right-hand lane when the speed limit is greater than 65 mph unless they are passing other vehicles. An affidavit said the trooper smelled “burnt marijuana” and saw a marijuana cigarette in the ashtray when he approached the car. He called a K-9 unit to the scene, and a search uncovered cocaine and pills.

The driver was eventually charged in federal court with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and holding a counterfeit drug for sale. His lawyer then filed a series of motions calling the trooper’s recorded comments an example of racial profiling, including a motion to suppress evidence from the stop and a motion to dismiss the case for egregious police misconduct. The prosecutor dismissed the charges before the judge ruled on those motions.

“This is not a case where we must infer discriminatory intent,” defense attorney Leonard Sharon wrote in one motion. “This is a case where the officer is emboldened to brag of his constitutionally impermissible behavior, as if it is something to be proud of.”

The Maine State Police denied a public records request last year for the recording of the stop, citing an exemption for “intelligence and investigative record information.” Sharon, the defense attorney, said his client did not wish to provide a copy of the video for publication. The Portland Press Herald obtained a copy of the video from another source.

Darcy’s comments in the video have called into question his traffic stops in at least two pending federal cases.


In both, defense attorneys have indicated their clients are African-American and raised concerns about the recording. They have asked for more information about Darcy’s record as a state trooper, including information about the race and ethnicity of the drivers he has stopped, to determine if he has a pattern of racial profiling.

In one case, a judge denied an earlier motion to suppress evidence from the traffic stop by Darcy. But he agreed to hold a new hearing on that request after the defense attorney alerted the court to the August 2019 recording. In another, a different judge denied a motion for the records about Darcy’s work. But he has also agreed to hold a hearing on a motion to reconsider that decision, as well as a motion to suppress evidence.

“We are at the discovery phase as to what additional items may be produced and presented at the reopened suppression hearing, at which time we would be challenging the trooper’s credibility,” said David Bobrow, one of those defense attorneys.

Those hearings have not yet been scheduled.

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