Grand jury, judge clear Jefferson man charged with creating a police standoff

Posted April 09, 2014, at 10:45 a.m.

JEFFERSON, Maine — A Jefferson man has been cleared of criminal and civil charges after he was arrested in May 2013 for allegedly creating a police standoff at his home on Goose Hill Road.

A grand jury declined to indict John M. Burbank, 35, for criminal threatening. A judge then cleared him of the civil charge of creating a police standoff.

Burbank was charged May 13 with the crime after the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said he confronted a road crew while intoxicated, carried a gun and held deputies,officers from the Maine Warden Service and Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agents at bay for 45 minutes from his home.

But a grand jury failed to indict him on the criminal threatening charge, and on March 20, the Lincoln County district attorney’s office failed to convince District Court Judge Daniel Billings that law enforcement officials reasonably believed that Burbank had threatened to inflict bodily injury before the incident that caused the standoff.

“In addition, though the state presented evidence that the incident lasted approximately one hour and 15 minutes from the time law enforcement first made contact with Burbank to when he left his home, evidence indicated the initial communication between law enforcement and the defendant was only a request to leave his home to talk to law enforcement, and it was not until later that he was directed or instructed to leave his home,” Billings wrote in his decision.

Billings said there was no evidence that Burbank “was barricaded for more than [a] half-hour, which is an essential element of the violation charged.”

Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright said that the case hinged on a “horribly written” statute.

“It’s almost an untenable statute. It give police almost no guidance as to what to do,” he said. “Deputies were concerned about a report that there was an angry, intoxicated man, carrying a weapon and yelling at a road crew, and that he created a standoff,” he said.

“Mr. Burbank has claimed the state has trampled on his Second Amendment rights, but the state in no way believes this is a Second Amendment issue,” Wright added. “The judge stated that he didn’t believe police did anything wrong.”

In an email to the Bangor Daily News, Burbank said he had been falsely arrested and blamed media reports for damaging his reputation.

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