FARMINGTON — State Attorney General William J. Schneider has concluded that the shooting death of Army veteran Justin Crowley-Smilek by a Farmington police officer in November was justified.

Crowley-Smilek, 28, a former Army Ranger who suffered from combat stress and physical injuries from service in Afghanistan, was shot multiple times by police Officer Ryan Rosie outside the Farmington municipal offices on U.S. Route 2.

Schneider said on Monday that it was reasonable for Rosie to believe that he was threatened with imminent deadly force and that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself. He said police officers often are forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary.

Reached by telephone Monday afternoon, Crowley-Smilek’s father, Michael Smilek of Farmington, declined to comment.

Crowley-Smilek’s girlfriend, Destiny Cooke, also declined to comment.

According to the attorney general’s report, Crowley-Smilek was armed with a large knife when he arrived at the municipal building just before 11 a.m. Nov. 19 and used a phone outside the building to call the Police Department.

Moments later, Rosie received a telephone call from the Regional Communications Center telling him that a person was waiting outside the Police Department to speak with an officer, the report states. He also was told that the person refused to provide his name and said that “there had better be two officers.”

Rosie went to the front entrance of the building. He stepped outside and he saw a man — later identified to be Justin Crowley-Smilek — walking away, according to the report.

Rosie shouted, “Sir, can I help you?” Crowley-Smilek did not respond and continued to walk away toward the street. Rosie shouted again and Crowley-Smilek stopped walking, turned around and, with his hands in his coat pockets, started walking at a brisk pace straight toward Rosie.

He did not speak. Rosie did not know the man, according to Schneider’s findings.

According to the report, Rosie tried to engage Crowley-Smilek in conversation but was unsuccessful. Crowley-Smilek continued walking swiftly toward the officer, the report states.

When he was about halfway to Rosie’s position, Rosie told him to take his hands out of his pockets. Crowley-Smilek did not comply and continued to advance on the officer, the report continues.

Rosie’s marked police cruiser was parked nearby in front of the Town Hall. Rosie moved to the front of the cruiser so that it would be between him and the still advancing Crowley-Smilek. Before reaching the rear of the cruiser, Crowley-Smilek took his hands from his coat pockets, revealing that in his left hand he was holding a black-handled knife with an exposed blade, according to the report.

Officer Rosie drew his service weapon when he saw the knife. He asked Crowley-Smilek what he was doing, and Crowley-Smilek responded, “You’d better kill me now.”

“Mr. Crowley-Smilek ran at Officer Rosie and Officer Rosie responded by moving away from him,” the report states. “Officer Rosie continued to match Mr. Crowley-Smilek’s moves while keeping the cruiser between them. While Mr. Crowley-Smilek chased Officer Rosie, he repeated two more times, ‘You’d better kill me now.'”

At 11:05 a.m., Rosie used his lapel microphone to call for help.

“By now, Officer Rosie was near the front of the cruiser and Mr. Crowley-Smilek, who was still holding the knife out in front of him, charged at Officer Rosie,” according to the report. “Officer Rosie fired his weapon until Mr. Crowley-Smilek, struck by the gunfire, fell to the ground.”

When Rosie approached him, Crowley-Smilek said, “Kill me,” according to the report.

Destiny Cook said in November that Crowley-Smilek “just couldn’t take it anymore.” She said he left his apartment that morning without his wallet, his watch, his cellphone or his therapy dog. Cooke said he never would have left home without those things — especially his dog, Ranger — had he been in a healthy state of mind.

“He didn’t want to be stopped. He wanted to die,” Cooke said in the days after the shooting. “He walked from his house to the police station, knowing he was going to die.”

Michael Smilek and other family members said Crowley-Smilek did not want to die that morning and that he went to the police department for help.

The attorney general is charged by law with investigating the circumstances under which any law enforcement officer uses deadly force in Maine while acting in the performance of the officer’s duties.

The sole purpose of the attorney general’s investigation is to determine whether self-defense or the defense of others, as defined by law, was reasonably generated by the facts so as to preclude criminal prosecution.

The review includes no analysis of potential civil liability, no statement about whether administrative action is warranted, and no conclusion about whether the use of deadly force could have been averted.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

 

 


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