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Maine Attorney General To Prioritize Review Of 2007 Police Shooting

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey says he is prioritizing a review of a case from 2007 in which a former Waldoboro police officer was found to have been legally justified when he shot an 18-year-old following a traffic stop.  District Attorney Natasha Irving, whose jurisdiction includes Lincoln County, has questioned that finding, and says she plans to seek a murder indictment against Zachary Curtis. 

But Irving says she is pleased that Frey's office is prioritizing the review. "I will take them at their word that they're putting it before prosecutors," she says.

Attorney General Aaron Frey's office says Frey agreed to a review after a presentation by Jackson's family last June. And, in a statement released Thursday, Frey questions whether the District Attorney has the legal authority to bring murder charges against Zachary Curtis.

DA Irving says, despite the expedited review, her office plans to continue putting its case together until she has direct conversations with the attorney general about how he would like to proceed.

"It is a process that has to be done very thoroughly," she says. "It's a 13-year-old case and it's a homicide, so it's quite complex."

The confrontation began with a traffic stop in which Jackson was accused of resisting and fighting. After Jackson fled on foot, there was a second confrontation in which Jackson was shot multiple times, including three times in the lower back and once in the head. Pepper spray also was used in the clash in which the officer lost his glasses and claimed he was choked.

The officer's use of deadly force was found to be legally justified by the Attorney General’s Office, and a federal judge ruled against Jackson’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit in 2010.

Clarification: This post was updated at 10:17 a.m. June 12, 2020 to indicate that Attorney General Aaron Frey plans to prioritize an ongoing review of the Jackson case underway since June of 2019.

David Sharp of The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Ed is a Maine native who spent his early childhood in Livermore Falls before moving to Farmington. He graduated from Mount Blue High School in 1970 before going to the University of Maine at Orono where he received his BA in speech in 1974 with a broadcast concentration. It was during that time that he first became involved with public broadcasting. He served as an intern for what was then called MPBN TV and also did volunteer work for MPBN Radio.