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Case against Portland blogger who criticized Portland police has been dropped

Christian MilNeil
Caitlin Andrews
/
Maine Public
Christian MilNeil, right, and attorney Tina Nadeau speak to reporters at Nadeau's office on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Criminal mischief charges against a Portland blogger have been dropped. Christian MilNeil was charged with criminal mischief in 2020, saying he was targeted for posting critical tweets about a Portland police officer.

The arrest occurred as Black Lives Matter protests were happening in Portland and around the country following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. MilNeil, the editor of Boston-based StreetsBlog MASS, was charged with defacing a property managed at the time by Avesta Housing. MilNeil has always denied those charges.

Police said MilNeil was caught on camera. But MilNeil's attorney Tina Nadeau told reporters on Wednesday that investigators relied on poor quality photos and misidentified him. Part of that evidence involved comparing a picture on MilNeil's social media of a man wearing ski goggles and comparing it to a picture of a suspect, who was also wearing goggles. But the person on MilNeil's social media was a friend.

Nadeau called the case a waste of resources in light of the state's three-year criminal court backlog.

"This is an example of one of those cases that have lingered because the DA's office refused to, until the final hour, do the right thing, which was dismiss it," she said.

MilNeil's case was supposed to go to trial last week when the charges were dismissed by the Cumberland County District Attorney's office, court records show.

Both Portland police and the DA declined to comment.

The dismissal form said the case was dropped at the request of Lt. Nick Goodman. Goodman was the police officer MilNeil was critical of in his tweets.

But documents from the discovery file show police gathered victim statements from the Portland Housing Authority, the board of which MilNeil sits on and is partially responsible for the creation of the building that was vandalized.

Corrected: May 19, 2023 at 10:56 AM EDT
George Floyd was murdered by a police officer but was not shot.
Reporter Caitlin Andrews came to Maine Public in 2023 after nearly eight years in print journalism. She hails from New Hampshire originally.