AUGUSTA — Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos (I-Friendship), has been advocating for a year with the state’s attorney general’s office to reopen a case involving the death of Gregori Jackson, an 18-year-old, who, in 2007, was shot by a reserve police officer with the Waldoboro Police Department during an altercation.
Today, June 11, he will join District Attorney Natasha Irving, along with Jackson’s parents, in front of a microphone and camera outside the Capitol building in Augusta, to let the Maine public know that the effort is underway to reexamine the circumstances that lead to the death of Jackson.
Evangelos serves on the Judiciary Committee and the State and Local Government Committee.
The Sept. 2007 shooting of the Whitefield teen in an altercation with then Waldoboro police officer Zachary Curtis, who was 24 at the time, occurred in the woods, with no one else in the immediate vicinity.
Jackson had been in the back seat of a car with two other young men, driving toward Friendship, down Route 220. Police said that Curtis pulled the car over after witnessing it swerve over the yellow line.
Jackson and Curtis had an altercation outside the car, according to published reports. Jackson then ran down the road and into the woods. Curtis followed him, and there, in the dark and in the brush, Jackson was shot five times, according to Rep. Evangelos, who submitted testimony in 2019 of LD-1219, An Act To Establish an Independent Panel To Review the Use of Deadly Force by Law Enforcement Officers.
Evangelos wants the AG’s office to reopen the case, after then Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe announced in November 2007 that Curtis was legally justified when he shot and killed Gregori S. Jackson.
Jackson’s death has bothered him since 2007, he said.
In 2019, when he testified in favor of LD 1219, he talked extensively about the circumstances of Jackson’s death, and said: “No case in Maine generated more doubt or controversy than the police shooting of an 18-year-old youngster named Gregori Jackson.... Greg, who was unarmed, was shot by a reserve municipal police office who lacked adequate training and Police Academy certifications, and who had not graduated from the Police Academy.”
On June 10, Evangelos said: “I've always felt this way about this case. I live four miles from where it happened. In 2007, I objected to it. I assumed people in charge would do the right thing, they didn't. When controversial cases around the country exploded I submitted LD-1219, the ‘independent’ panel bill, in December of 2018. In conjunction with testimony on that bill, the Jacksons came forward. And we were off to the races. No one asked me or has ever spoken to me about it. That's how it happened, the submission of the bill created the chain reaction.”
In 2019, Evangelos asked Maine’s Attorney General Aaron Frey for a hearing on the case. That hearing was granted in June 14, 2019, said Evangelos.
On June 1, 2020, he sent Frey a follow-up email, emphasizing that Jackson’s death, “at the hands of Waldoboro police was in no way justified.”
He cited additional cases of Maine shootings involving police and said: “Mr. Attorney General, George Floyd did not die in vain and while I don't condone the violence that has broken out across the country, neither can I condone the delay of justice we experience here in Maine. How is it possible that no police officer has ever been held accountable for acts of violence against unarmed people in our state? Since 1990, the Attorney General’s Office has investigated more than 150 police-involved shootings in Maine, and it has never found any of them to be unjustified. How is this possible?”
He added: “One thing is now clear, America's view of police misconduct is forever changed. There is no turning back now. It's time for people like yourself, elected on the promise of criminal justice reform, to do the people's work and protect us from these bad apple violent offenders who disgrace the blue uniform they wear.”
The intent o the press briefing today, he said, is to again urge AG Frey to step up action on reviewing the case, and respond to the family. As well, the intent is to state that District Attorney Natasha Irving, who covers Knox, Waldo and Lincoln County courts, will pursue pressing charges against Zachary Curtis.
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