AUBURN, Maine — State prosecutors filed a civil complaint against a local man under the Maine Civil Rights Act after he reportedly smashed into the car of an Auburn man, called him racial slurs, threw objects at him and beat on his car.
On July 11, Matthew Wooten Jr., 19, was driving his car on East Avenue in Lewiston on his way home. He was in the left turning lane for Russell Street when a pickup truck driven by another man sped past on the right and cut in front of Wooten’s car, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.
Getchell yelled at Wooten and gestured at him, according to the complaint.
Wooten tried to get around the truck, but was cut off repeatedly by Getchell. As vehicles approached Russell and Main streets, Getchell drove in front of Wooten’s car, stopped, backed up and stopped inches in front of Wooten’s car, the complaint said.
The two vehicles continued onto the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge toward Auburn when Getchell pulled alongside Wooten’s car and began to throw things, including what appeared to be tools and a bottle of perfume at Wooten, the complaint said.
As Wooten attempted to pass Getchell in the right lane, Getchell drove into Wooten’s car, hitting the car at the back of the driver’s side. Wooten lost control of his car for a moment and struck his head from the impact, the complaint said.
Wooten called 911 on his cellphone and followed Getchell’s truck to the parking lot of George’s Pizza on Center Street. Getchell got out of his truck carrying a club and yelled: “I’ll fight you, n—!” and used other racial epithets, according to the complaint.
Getchell hit the front of Wooten’s car with the club. Wooten drove forward. Getchell hit the trunk of the car with his club.
A local police officer appeared when Getchell was brandishing the club. Getchell said Wooten had confronted him.
Getchell continued using racial epithets while telling the officer he was defending himself.
He was arrested and yelled another epithet at Wooten from the cruiser, then silently mouthed, “I’m going to kill you,” as the cruiser drove off.
Getchell was taken to Androscoggin County Jail.
Police completed a criminal investigation and referred charges to the Androscoggin County district attorney’s office. That office referred the case to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, where it is under review, due to a possible conflict of interest because an assistant district attorney reportedly witnessed at least some of the events, according to Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin.
The state is seeking a preliminary injunction against Getchell barring him from:
– Threatening or using physical force or violence against Wooten or any members of his family or their property.
– Threatening or using physical force or violence against any person because of race (or other protected statuses under the Maine Human Rights Act).
– Destroying, damaging or trespassing on the property of anybody or their place of worship because of protected statuses.
– Harassing, intimidating, speaking to, telephoning or otherwise communicating with Wooten or his family.
– Knowingly coming within 150 feet of his home or workplace, or encouraging or causing any other person to engage in such conduct.
If the judge were to order a motion for a preliminary injunction and Getchell were to violate any of the terms, he could be charged with a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
Robbin said her office has more than 200 active Maine Civil Rights Act injunctions in effect statewide.