District Attorney Irving Calls For Prosecution Of Former Cop
Natasha Irving, the democratic district attorney of Prosecutor District Six, (which includes Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, and Waldo counties) is calling for the prosecution of a former Waldoboro police officer who shot and killed a teenager in 2007.
Waldoboro Police Officer Zachary Curtis shot and killed 18 year old Gregori Jackson during a traffic stop in September of 2007. A 2007 investigation conducted by the Maine Attorney General's office found the shooting to be justified. The case was closed in 2008.
In a press conference earlier today (June 11th) attended by Irving, State Representative Jeffrey Evangelos, Representative Tom Harnet, the family of Gregori Jackson, and others, she explained that Representative Evangelos had approached her about the case in February of 2019. After reviewing the facts of the case, and audio from a dispatch recording, Irving felt the homicide was not justified. On June 14th of 2019, District Attorney Irving, Rep. Evangelos, and members of the Jackson family made a presentation to Attorney General Aaron Frey. Nearly a year later, they are still waiting for a reply from AG Frey.
In the press conference DA Irving said:
"The aim of this press conference is to announce that we are finally seeking to serve justice in the case of the death of Gregori Jackson."
According to Irving, the Attorney General's office is challenging her authority to seek an indictment for the crime. In MRS 5 section 199, the statute states that, if the attorney general deems it necessary, they shall assist the district attorney in presenting the case to a grand jury.
During the press conference, Irving gave an overview of inconsistencies between Curtis' statements and evidence provided by the medical examiner's report and audio recordings from the department's dispatch.
She went on to say:
"When a suspect has documented credibility issues, you do not take their word for it, you take the word of science!"
Irving said she hopes to bring the case before the grand jury as soon as possible, this year.
Some of inconsistencies of the case that she pointed out during the press conference include:
-While Officer Curtis claimed Jackson was on top of him when the first shot hit him, there was a lack of blood on the officer's uniform.
-Jackson was hitting him in the head and face with his fists and elbows, while choking the officer with his forearm, and attempting to gain control of his firearm. The medical examiner's report indicated that Jackson did not have the types of wounds consistent with hitting a person with hands or fists.
-Officer Curtis' wounds were not consistent with being beaten in the head and face, as he claimed.
-The medical examiner stated that the three shots prior to final (fatal) shot severed Jackson's spine. If that was the case, why was the final shot needed? At that point, he would not have posed any threat to the officer's life.
The timeline of the night is as follows:
According to a timeline presented during the press conference, at 2:14 AM on September 23rd of 2007, Waldoboro reserve officer Zachary Curtis stopped a vehicle on Rt 220. In the vehicle were three teenage boys: a 17 year old driver, a 17 year old passenger, and 18 year old Gregori Jackson. Out on bail for an alleged OUI, Jackson was not supposed to be using drugs or alcohol. As he smelled like alcohol and was slurring his words, Officer Curtis attempted to arrest Jackson.
Although he attempted to flee into the woods, Officer Curtis was able to apprehend him and bring Jackson back to his patrol car. Still uncooperative, Officer Curtis maced Gregori Jackson. In the audio recording Jackson can be heard yelling, "I'm down, I'm down."
At 2:31 AM, Jackson ran down Friendship Road and into the woods, with the officer in pursuit. A few minutes later, Curtis requested a K9 unit to help him pursue Jackson. Still chasing Jackson, at 2:37 AM Curtis states the Jackson hit him with a log. The log reported knocked Curtis' glasses off. At that point, the officer deployed his baton and began to beat the teen. The medical examiner's report found the teen had been severely beaten and had many defensive wounds.
According to statements from the officer, he decided to use deadly force because Jackson was still choking and beating him. The first shot entered through Jackson's back and exited his chest. The next three shots entered Jackson's back at point-blank range. These shots severed his spinal cord. The final shot, from 8-12 inches away, entered behind Gregori's left ear.
District Attorney Irving told the crowd that the Jackson case, along with several others, highlight the need for an independent Case Review Unit in the State of Maine.
If Zachary Curtis does end up being prosecuted, it would be the first time a Maine police officer would be prosecuted for using "deadly force"