September 21, 2019
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Charge dropped against Maine man after judge questions cop’s honesty

Lauren Abbate | BDN
Lauren Abbate | BDN
Rockland Police Department

The Knox County District Attorney’s Office dismissed a 5-year-old drunken driving charge against a Union man after a judge recently raised questions about the former Rockland police officer who stopped him.

The charge was dismissed against Edward J. Studley on Wednesday, the same day the district attorney’s office said it would be reviewing all active and closed cases involving former Rockland police officer Jacob Shirey.

Shirey resigned from the Rockland Police Department in 2017 in the wake of an internal investigation based on concerns about his professionalism and honesty.

Last month, in granting Studley’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Justice Daniel Billings urged the district attorney’s office to review all cases involving Shirey, bringing into question his credibility as a witness due to a pattern of alleged dishonesty and neglect of duties.

In an email Thursday, Knox County District Attorney Jonathan Liberman declined to comment on what led the state to drop the charge against Studley and said he did not “want to comment any further on the review process at this time.”

“My client is elated that the OUI charge has been dismissed,” Christopher MacLean, Studley’s attorney, said in an email.

A possession of suboxone charge from the same 2013 case against Studley was dismissed Friday morning, according to a Knox County Court Clerk, after MacLean urged that all charges against his client be dropped.

MacLean said he will focus on obtaining monetary compensation for his client by possibly taking legal action against the state, Shirey or the city of Rockland, as Shirey’s former employer.

Following Rockland Police Department’s internal investigation in 2016, the district attorney’s office brought the concerns about Shirey to the court, as well as notifying defendants and attorneys in cases involving Shirey that the office had information relevant to his credibility.

In May 2017, a judge ruled that the Knox County District Attorney’s Office must surrender information it had on Shirey to defendants in pending cases that the officer handled.

On Wednesday, Liberman said it’s estimated that Shirey was involved in more than 300 cases during his time with the Rockland Police Department. However, the number of cases in which he was an essential witness is believed to be far less than that number, Liberman said.

The District Attorney’s Office will focus on cases in which convictions hinged on Shirey’s credibility as a witness.

Shirey graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in 2013 as an officer with the Rockland Police Department. He no longer works in law enforcement, according to court documents.

MacLean commended Liberman for his handling of the issues involving Shirey, which arose before Liberman became the district attorney.

“In his short tenure as district attorney, Mr. Liberman has impressed me with his commitment to vigorously [prosecuting] while ensuring that the rights of the criminal defendants protected,” MacLean said. “His handling of the matter involving officer Shirey is an excellent example of his leadership and integrity.”

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