October 20, 2018
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Authorities break silence on moments leading up to shooting of Maine man

Courtesy of Timothy Kenlan
Courtesy of Timothy Kenlan
Jason Jackson, 34, of East Machias, lies in his Bangor hospital bed within a week or so of being shot during an armed confrontation with police in Machiasport Dec. 9, 2017.

A prosecutor disputed an East Machias man’s claim that he was unarmed when he was shot by a Marine Patrol officer in December.

Jason Jackson was pointing a revolver at Marine Patrol Officer Matt Carter, who responded by firing his weapon, said Washington County District Attorney Matthew Foster, citing an official statement from Carter.

“Jackson had put the gun on the floor and picked it up several times. Just prior to the shooting, Jackson then reached again for the gun and was told ‘Don’t, don’t,’” according to Foster, who is prosecuting the case. “MPO Carter believed that Jackson was going to shoot him and that he was about to die, so MPO Carter fired his weapon.”

Foster said he obtained Carter’s statement from a “truncated” police report he needed to establish charges against Jackson, who now faces 11 criminal counts stemming from the events of Dec. 9.

When Carter pulled the trigger, he also shot Tiffany Smith, Jackson’s ex-girlfriend, who was lying on the floor with Jackson inside the Machiasport duplex where she lives. Both Jackson, 34, and Smith, 33, were shot several times. Jackson was hit in the back as well as his left arm, the lawyers said. He lost a portion of his arm as a result of the shooting.

Foster’s statements are the first public account of Carter’s explanation of why he used deadly force that night. They also contradict the version of events described by Jackson and Smith’s lawyers, who said Jackson was unarmed when Carter pulled the trigger.

Timothy Kenlan, Jackson’s attorney, said his client had put down his gun and was “essentially lying in Tiffany’s lap when he was shot.” Smith’s lawyer, Don Brown, said his client told him the same thing. Neither lawyer responded to messages seeking comment on Monday.

Foster said that he isn’t sure of Jackson’s exact position during the shooting but said that Jackson was “agitated on and off” and, according to Carter’s statement, kept picking his gun back up again, always keeping it within reach.

Eventually, “the officer noted that [Jackson] escalated in a more aggressive manner than he had been doing,” and Jackson “picked up the gun and moved it towards MPO Carter by reaching around Ms. Smith,” Foster said. “Carter could see Jackson’s finger was inside the trigger,” he said.

Police reports also suggested that Jackson was high on drugs, Foster said.

[Down East Man shot by Marine Patrol officer lost part of arm]

Carter has repeatedly declined to comment publicly while the shooting is being investigated by the Office of the Attorney General, which probes every officer-involved shooting.

Kenlan has said Jackson was “having a mental crisis” on Dec. 9 and while inside Smith’s duplex had called 911 to ask for “crisis assistance.”

Police denied the request because Jackson refused to disarm, Foster said.

“I know the Marine Patrol officer said the first thing they would do is get [Jackson] crisis support, but he had to put the firearm down [and out of reach] first,” Foster said.

Police had chased Jackson to the 33 Corn Hill Road duplex because he was a suspect in an armed home invasion from earlier that day. Jackson broke into an East Machias home and, holding a gun, demanded money from the woman who lived there, Foster said.

According to Foster, the woman told Jackson that she didn’t have any money, so he left. A few hours later police recognized his car in Machias, Foster said, adding that Jackson drove off, leading police through a blizzard to the Machiasport duplex around 8:30 p.m.

Jackson ran inside Smith’s half of the duplex and apparently broke into the neighboring apartment through a “a common loft,” Foster said. There, he confronted a man inside an upstairs room, pointed his gun at him and demanded a cigarette, Foster said.

Without the full police report, Foster said he could not provide a more complete picture of events leading up to the shooting. But eventually, Carter, Jackson, and Smith were alone in a standoff that last about 45 minutes, Foster said.

Jackson faces a slew of charges, including burglary, robbery with a firearm and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.

A kidnapping charge was dropped because there is no evidence that Jackson kept Smith against her will during the standoff, Foster said.

Foster said he hopes to present the charges to a grand jury in May.

Meanwhile, Jackson is under house arrest instead of in jail because of his injuries — a deal Foster struck with Jackson’s defense attorney, Matthew Erickson.

Erickson did not respond to a calls for comment on Monday.

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