December 2, 2013

Farmington, officer, chief sued in 2011 shooting of veteran

Parents of a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran shot and killed by a Farmington police officer in 2011 have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking unspecified monetary damages for civil rights violations and the wrongful death of their son.

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

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TRAGIC END: Lorna and Michael Smilek hold a 2006 photograph of Michael’s son, Justin Crowley-Smilek, who was shot and killed by Farmington police in 2011.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

“He has gone through the pre-service training, a 100-hour course,” Peck said in the weeks after the shooting. “Then we put him through a six-week training class. Then we have online training classes that are mandated by the state, so it wasn’t like we just threw him in a cruiser and said here’s a gun, have a good day.”

Crowley-Smilek served four months in Afghanistan before his discharge under honorable conditions in June 2007.

In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Crowley-Smilek had slipped into paranoia and delusion from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, according to family members and his girlfriend. He also suffered extreme back pain from a 30-foot fall from a helicopter in Afghanistan, they said.

Michael Smilek and Kary Laban, a licensed clinical counselor who treated Crowley-Smilek, said they did not believe he was suicidal.

Crowley-Smilek’s girlfriend, Destiny Cook, also of Farmington, said he had left his watch, his wallet, his cellphone and his therapy dog at his apartment, which indicated to her that he did not plan to return and that he wanted to die.

Michael Smilek said in an interview after the shooting that when Justin returned to Farmington as a civilian he couldn’t function in society. He said he and his wife, Lorna, Justin’s stepmother, fought to get him the help he needed.

Michael Smilek said his son took his medication at first and attended sessions with Laban at the Farmington Veterans’ Center for counseling and at the Togus veterans hospital. However, he said his son had stopped taking his medications shortly before the shooting.

Crowley-Smilek began getting into trouble with police back home in Farmington in 2007 when he was arrested on charges of operating after suspension, criminal mischief and violation of conditions of bail. He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of violating the conditions of his release, according to newspaper archives.

In April 2010, Crowley-Smilek pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in connection with an incident at University of Maine at Farmington a month earlier, in which he was found in possession of a loaded handgun at a basketball game.

He was arrested again in January 2011 for allegedly assaulting an intoxicated man who had been sleeping in a car in downtown Farmington. A few days later, Crowley-Smilek was again arrested after Farmington police found a machete and 61 marijuana plants growing in his apartment.

Crowley-Smilek had been to court on criminal charges the day before the shooting, and a judge ordered that he undergo a full psychological evaluation.

The lawsuit originally was filed Nov. 13 in Franklin County Superior Court. It was moved to federal court in Portland Nov. 27.

Davis said Rosie returned to work at the Police Department and completed training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. He remains a full-time police officer for the town of Farmington.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367 Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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