Two of the three police officers sued by the mother of an Oakland woman whom police shot and killed in 2017 in Vassalboro  have been dismissed from the case.

Ballistics testing revealed Ambrosia “Amber” Fagre, 18, of Oakland was shot by Trooper Jeffrey Parks, of the Maine State Police, who remains in the lawsuit. The lawsuit counts against Vassalboro police Chief Mark Brown and state police Lt. Scott W. Ireland have been dismissed.

Fagre and Kadhar Bailey, 25, of Gardiner, were both shot and killed after police came upon them on a Vassalboro camp road and all three officers exchanged gunfire with Bailey. Police were seeking to arrest the armed Bailey as he fled the scene of a reported home invasion and burglary.

Bailey died that night, while Fagre died Feb. 11, 2017, one day after she was shot.

In a 17-page ruling issued earlier this week, federal district court Judge Lance Walker dismissed the lawsuit’s claims against Brown and Ireland. He wrote that neither Brown nor Ireland shot Fagre, nor did they exert excessive force against her, violate her due process rights or have personal responsibility for how Parks might act. Walker also wrote that their own use of their guns to shoot at Bailey did not encourage Parks to use deadly force against Fagre.

The lawsuit filed by Fagre’s mother, Jessica Fagre, accuses the officers of negligence. The suit also states Amber Fagre was a bystander whom police should have tried to avoid shooting during the incident, that police used excessive and unreasonable force, that they should have taken steps to protect her, and that they caused Fagre to suffer a period of physical pain and emotional trauma before her death.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation and punitive damages.

Hunter Tzovarras, the attorney who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor for Jessica Fagre, said they are disappointed the court dismissed the claims against two of the officers in what he described as an early stage of litigation before having a chance to develop further facts and information regarding their involvement in Amber Fagre’s death.

“We are pleased the court denied the dismissal of the claims against Trooper Parks and plan to proceed with the claims against him,” Tzovarras said. “The strongest claims all along are against Trooper Parks, as he is the officer that ultimately fired the deadly shots into the vehicle that killed Amber.”

Police were investigating a report of a home invasion and burglary at the home of Dickie Browne on Arnold Road in Vassalboro. That’s where police learned Bailey had knocked on the door of Browne’s home and offered to shovel his roof for pay, but Browne declined.

Browne later found Bailey in his garage, where Bailey held him at gunpoint and ordered him back into the house. Bailey tied Browne up and spent the next several hours ransacking the home, later stealing Browne’s pickup truck. Bailey ditched that on a nearby snowmobile trail before making his way back toward the house, carrying a handgun, when he encountered police.

Brown responded to the report and was at Bailey’s SUV with Fagre, who sat inside, when Ireland informed him about the home invasion. He also was told Bailey was heading toward him and the vehicle, and he was armed. He saw Bailey approaching with a handgun, drew his own handgun and ordered Bailey to stop. Bailey continued toward Brown and Fagre and the SUV, and Brown took cover on the driver’s side hood of the vehicle, while Fagre remained seated inside it. Brown then fired his gun at Bailey and took cover behind a nearby snowbank. Bailey returned fire, got into the SUV and began to drive away, while Brown fired another shot at Bailey.

Parks arrived on the scene and, upon hearing gunshots, stopped his cruiser in the road and got out of his vehicle. As Bailey continued to drive toward the cruiser, Parks moved behind his cruiser and sought cover behind a snowbank. The lawsuit alleges Parks fired several rounds into the SUV, which crashed into his cruiser and stopped.

Ireland, armed with a rifle, approached the driver’s side of the vehicle and, seeing Bailey reaching for something, shot and killed him.

The officers then discovered that Fagre had suffered a serious gunshot wound, which was later determined to have been a round fired from Parks’ handgun.

Drummond Woodsum Attorney Edward Benjamin, who defended Brown with co-counsel Kasia Park, said Friday that Brown was happy his involvement of the case has been resolved.

“We know, while officer Brown engaged in gunfire with Bailey, he did not strike Fagre, so he did not cause the death,” Benjamin said. “A police officer is not generally responsible for the use of deadly force by some other officer. Everybody is responsible for their own actions.”

Walker and Benjamin said Brown’s use of deadly force against Bailey was reasonable.

“Clearly a guy running at him with a handgun, who he’d just learned had tied someone up and pistol-whipped him, when he sees him and he refuses to drop his weapon, he’s within the right to use deadly force, and that’s what the court found,” Benjamin said of Brown.

His court response also says Brown is protected by Maine law that grants immunity to government employees who are acting in an official capacity or carrying out the duties of their jobs.

Ireland and Parks are defended in the lawsuit by the Office of the Maine Attorney General. Marc Malon, a legislative liaison for the AG’s office, said the attorney general did not have a comment on the pending case.

A 2018 investigation by the attorney general’s office determined the law enforcement officers involved acted in self-defense.

Walker, in his court order, notes that because Parks shot and killed Fagre, dismissal of claims against him would require additional information and it is unclear whether Parks’s use of force was constitutionally objectionable under the facts alleged in the lawsuit.

 

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