SKOWHEGAN — A Skowhegan man pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning in court to an assault charge involving a Skowhegan police officer, arguing that he was having an epileptic seizure at the time and was not fighting back.

Meanwhile, the man’s father said they will hire an out-of-town lawyer because they think local attorneys would not give his son a fair shake.

Noah Goodridge, 20, is charged with simple assault based on a June 12 incident involving Skowhegan police Officer Ryan Blakeney, according to the charge read by District Court Judge Andrew Benson.

Goodridge’s father, Paul Goodridge, filed a complaint against the officer in June for not recognizing that his son was having an epileptic seizure at the time. He claims the officer mistakenly thought his son was high on drugs. The incident occurred outside the NAPA auto parts store in downtown Skowhegan, where Noah Goodridge had gone to fill out an employment application, Paul Goodridge said.

“I talked to the D.A. and he said something in the report about ‘pseudo seizures,'” Paul Goodridge said, adding that the report implies that the seizures were not real.

“That was wrong. It’s wrong,” Noah Goodridge added outside the courthouse following his arraignment Wednesday. “I am not guilty.”

Paul Goodridge said pseudo-seizures are as real as epileptic seizures and that his son suffers from 10 types of seizures. That’s what happened when Blakeney approached his son on June 12 he said.

“They should have sent the ambulance, not the cops, in the first place,” Paul Goodridge writes in the complaint. “Officer Blakeney evidently thought my son was on narcotics and arrested him and brought him to the hospital.”

Goodridge said his son has a documented history of epileptic seizures, with dozens of hospital visits on his medical record.

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Noah Goodridge was cleared for release to police custody by the medical staff at Redington-Fairview General Hospital. He said Blakeney is a drug recognition expert, certified through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and the National Department of Highway Safety and “recognized signs associated with individuals under the influence of drugs.”

Bucknam said this week that he has handled the complaint against his officer but that details of how it was handled are confidential and protected from the public because it is a personnel matter.

Bucknam said in June that police officers are first responders, not emergency medical technicians, and that the symptoms displayed by Noah Goodridge “were not conducive to what an average person would consider seizure.”

Paul Goodridge said that is the problem, that police officers are not trained to recognize epileptic seizures. He said he wants additional training for law enforcement officers and wants Blakeney “to be reprimanded and be held accountable for his actions in the wrongful arrest of my son, Noah.”

In his affidavit in support of probable cause for Noah Goodridge’s arrest, Blakeney wrote that he responded to a report of a medical emergency at the NAPA store at 4:19 p.m. June 12 and found Goodridge standing against a truck in the parking lot. He said the young man did not acknowledge his questions appropriately and “appeared to be under the influence of something.”

Blakeney said that when Goodridge attempted to walk past him, he positioned himself in front of him, so he was unable to walk past.

The officer wrote that Goodridge “reached out and grabbed me on top of my shoulders.” Blakeney said he pushed Goodridge’s hands away and told him not to touch him again.

Blakeney wrote that Goodridge grabbed him again by the shoulders, whereupon Blakeney used a police academy “arm bar” technique to bring him to the ground, where he was handcuffed.

Paul Goodridge said he wants to get a lawyer on the assault charge and to press charges against Blakeney. He said there is body camera footage from the police officer that shows what really happened.

“I just filled out the paperwork for a court-appointed lawyer, but I’m getting ready to talk to (a lawyer) right now … in Portland,” he said. ” … I should get a lawyer from out of town because it’s a conflict of interest — to try to go after the Police Department that these lawyers live in town with. I don’t trust them here because of the fact that they live here, they work with the Police Department, they work with the jailhouse.”

Noah Goodridge told the judge that he understood the charge against him. There is a risk of going to jail if he is convicted, the court clerk told the judge.

A dispositional hearing in the case is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 21 in Skowhegan. A trial date would be scheduled for February if the case goes that far.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: