FARMINGTON — The father of a man shot and killed by a police officer Saturday morning said Sunday his son had been a U.S. Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan and had come home with severe combat stress.

Michael Smilek said his son, Justin Crowley-Smilek, 28, had been to court on criminal charges the day before the shooting and a judge ordered that he undergo a full psychological evaluation. He said his son suffered from bouts of alcohol and drug use and had frequent problems with police as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“On Thursday he started to become very delusional; he became manic,” Michael Smilek, 55, said Sunday. “Justin was 100 percent post-traumatic stress and was diagnosed as being bipolar because of what he saw in Afghanistan. I was with him in court on Friday.”

On Saturday, Crowley-Smilek, armed with a large knife, was shot by Farmington police Officer Ryan Rosie outside the Farmington municipal building on U.S. Route 2.

Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck said Crowley-Smilek called the police dispatch center from a telephone in front of the building. When Rosie came outside, Crowley-Smilek came at him in a threatening manner and was shot.

Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the Office of Attorney General, which is investigating the shooting, called the event an armed confrontation. Several shots were fired, she said.

Kary Laban, a licensed clinical counselor who treated Crowley-Smilek, said his was the classic case of a soldier returning from a war zone.

“Justin was what I would call a fairly typical combat veteran — there were a lot of things he didn’t talk about, understandably,” Laban said.

“Some of the things I did know, left him scarred. You’re never quite the same once you’re in combat and you come back out. What you see and what you hear and what happens, these veterans bring home with them.”

Laban said Crowley-Smilek was not an overtly violent person and was not suicidal. Michael Smilek agreed, saying his son was not bent on committing suicide by being shot by a police officer.

Both Smilek and Laban wondered why police had to use deadly force on someone who had a knife, when the officer could have disarmed him with pepper spray, a shot to the knee or a TASER.

Kielty, at the attorney general’s office, said there would be no details released on the shooting until the investigation is completed.

“Justin was a very sweet, sensitive person who enjoyed life — then he went into the service and he changed,” Michael Smilek said. “When he came back from leave the first time, I questioned myself — who was this man; is that my son? His eyes were just vacant.”

Smilek said his son cried about the horrors of the war in Afghanistan and incursions into Pakistan.

He left the Army with an honorable discharge.

Crowley-Smilek also suffered a back injury from having fallen 30 to 35 feet from a helicopter in full combat gear, his father said Sunday. The soldier also may have suffered traumatic brain injury from repeated exposure to mortar fire and roadside bombs. Crowley-Smilek had been issued a medical marijuana card.

Michael Smilek said when Justin got back to Farmington as a civilian he couldn’t function in society and he and his wife Lorna, Justin’s stepmother, fought to get him the help he needed.

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. Justin recently had gone off his medications, his father said Sunday.

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.

He was arrested again in January of this year for allegedly assaulting an intoxicated man who had been sleeping in a car in downtown Farmington. A few days later, Crowley-Smilek was again arrested after Farmington police found a machete and 61 marijuana plants growing in his apartment.

Michael Smilek said the gun incident at UMF is a common symptom of a combat veteran with PTSD — former soldiers who carry firearms to feel safe. The charge of assaulting the man in the car had been self-defense, he said.

Justin Crowley-Smilek’s mother, Ruth Crowley and his sister Elise, both from the Portland, Ore., area, were scheduled to arrive in Maine on Sunday. There has been no date set for the funeral.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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