Report: State police justified in controversial shooting of man, woman in Vassalboro
VASSALBORO (BDN) -- Two Maine state police officers were legally justified in shooting dead two people in a pickup truck that rammed a parked police cruiser in Vassalboro, according to the Maine attorney general.
An investigation of the 2017 shootings of Kadhar Bailey and Ambroshia Fagre concluded that State Police Lt. Scott Ireland and Trooper Jeff Parks acted in self defense when they fired into the truck, although Fagre’s killing appears to have been accidental. The Office of the Attorney General’s investigation found that Vassalboro police Chief Mark Brown, who shot at Bailey but did not hit him, was likewise justified in opening fire.
The pair’s deaths were two in what was Maine’s deadliest year for police shootings in a decade.
This shooting occured while the three officers were searching for Bailey after receiving a report that the 25-year-old allegedly burglarized a Vassalboro resident’s house while leaving the man tied up in the basement, according to the attorney general’s report.
On the evening of Feb. 10, the three officers tracked Bailey, of Gardiner, to a Dodge Durango parked on the side of Arnold Road, a half-mile-long, one-lane dirt road that connects a handful of camps and homes to a nearby pond. Earlier in the day, Ireland had spoken to Fagre, 18, of Oakland, in the truck, according to the report.
Brown found Bailey at the truck, ordered him drop his gun and, when he appeared to point it at the chief, fired a single shot before dodging for cover, the report states. Crouched behind a snowbank, Brown heard what he believed to be gunshot and emerged to return fire only to see Bailey accelerating the truck out onto the road and towards Trooper Parks’ cruiser, according to the report.
Out on Arnold Road, Parks reportedly heard the sound of gunfire and got out of his car to take cover. From behind the vehicle, Parks saw the Durango speeding towards him, stepped out and fired “several” shots into the oncoming truck, the report states.
The Durango kept coming, plowing into the police cruiser hard enough to deploy the airbags and knock the car backwards 50 feet along the road, the report states.
Ireland allegedly approached the crashed cars, where he saw Bailey with his left arm hanging out the window. The lieutenant yelled for him to put both hands outside the truck and, when Bailey reached his left hand back in and toward the vehicle’s center console, fired his rifle, hitting the driver in the neck, the report states. Bailey died at the scene.
Fagre was found gravely injured in the passenger side of the Durango and later died at a hospital, the report states. Although Ireland had reportedly spoken to her in the truck earlier in the day, Parks told investigators that he was unaware that the young woman was there.
Forensic examiners determined that the trajectory of the round that struck Fagre indicated that she was slumped over in the truck and not visible to Parks as he fired, according to the report.
“While certainly tragic, the unintended death of Ms. Fagre does not affect the legal analysis of whether Trooper Parks acted reasonably in firing at Mr. Bailey,” the report states.
Last July, Fagre’s mother said that her daughter was an innocent bystander and that she intends to file a wrongful death suit against the three officers. A lawyer for the family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Jessica Fagre said her daughter had been visiting friends in Vassalboro and got a ride from Bailey after going for a walk. The attorney general’s report does not explain how Fagre came to be in the Durango, but states that that Fagre appeared “out of it” when Ireland found her around 4 p.m. and said she was waiting for her boyfriend, who she alternately referred to as Nick, Brian and Hunter.
Fagre’s boyfriend, Nick Penney of Augusta, previously told the Bangor Daily News that state authorities could not run an impartial investigation into her death and that he wanted the FBI to get involved.
The Attorney General’s Office investigates every use of deadly force by Maine law enforcement and has never declared a police shooting unjustified.
These investigation do not consider whether an officer should be disciplined or if a shooting could have been avoided. However, Attorney General Janet Mills recently established a task force to review police use of deadly force, following last year’s sharp uptick in the number of people shot to death by police.