AUGUSTA, Maine — The police officers who used a Taser to subdue a Bangor man under the influence of synthetic bath salts last September had every right to use the nonlethal force, the Maine attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.
Phillip A. McCue, 28, of Bangor had two heart attacks — one shortly after a Taser was used to subdue him on Sept. 12, 2012, and the second one five days later at the hospital — and died as a result of “complications of [Alpha-PVP] poisoning,” according to his autopsy report, which was released last week at the request of the Bangor Daily News.
The Taser hits were not a factor in McCue’s death, Dr. Michael Ferenc, a former Maine medical examiner who now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., concluded in McCue’s autopsy report.
The Maine attorney general’s office investigated the death because McCue, who had a history of mental illness and drug use, died in police custody.
“McCue presented significant physical resistance to the attempts to take him into protective custody, which resulted in the officers engaging a degree of physical force to restrain and control him, including the use of an electronic weapon,” Brian MacMaster, director of investigations for the attorney general’s office, said in an April 30 email sent to the Bangor Police Department.
“Nothing in our review suggests that the officers involved in the apprehension of Mr. McCue… acted outside the limits imposed by law,” the investigator wrote. “Accordingly, there is no basis for this office to initiate a formal investigation or to conduct further inquiry regarding this matter.”
The officers were not named in the AG’s letter and the Bangor Police Department is not releasing their identities or any information about the incident due to a possible lawsuit that McCue’s father, Michael McCue of Jackson, is pursuing, Sgt. Paul Edwards said.
Michael McCue said Wednesday afternoon that he was not surprised by the conclusions drawn by the attorney general’s office. He disagrees strongly with the medical examiner’s findings and has filed a notice of intent to sue the city for failing to provide proper care to his son after he was hit with the Taser.
“We believe the Taser caused his death, and there was not adequate attention given to Phillip when he went down,” the elder McCue said April 22, after his son’s cause of death was released by the medical examiner’s office after months of delays caused by Ferenc’s departure.
Michael McCue said he’s still waiting for reports from Bangor Police Department about what they say happened, and the medical examiner about the amount of bath salts and other drugs in his son’s system.
“He got chased, tasered twice and then all of a sudden he had a heart attack because of bath salt poisoning — that’s hard to believe,” he said.