PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey agreed to review the fatal shooting of a teenager by a police officer more than a decade ago, officials said Thursday.
The local district attorney had called attention to the 2007 shooting and said she was prepared to bring the case to a grand jury herself.
Frey said he decided to launch the review after listening to a presentation of new evidence about the death of 18-year-old Gregori Jackson, of Whitefield, who was accused of resisting and fighting with Zachary Curtis, a reserve officer for the Waldoboro Police Department, before being fatally shot.
“The review of the family’s request to reopen this matter is a careful deliberative process involving experienced homicide prosecutors, and we are prioritizing the completion of this review over other matters,” Frey said Thursday in a statement.
The confrontation began with a traffic stop in which Jackson was accused of resisting and fighting. After Jackson fled on foot, there was a second confrontation in which Jackson was shot multiple times, including three times in the lower back and once in the head. Pepper spray also was used in the clash in which the officer lost his glasses and claimed he was choked.
The officer’s use of deadly force was found to be legally justified by the attorney general’s office, and a federal judge ruled against Jackson’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit in 2010.
But Natasha Irving, the district attorney for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, said the forensic evidence didn’t sync with statements the officer made about the shooting.
She threatened to pursue a murder charge even though the attorney general has the sole authority to prosecute murders in Maine. The statute of limitations has expired for the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The review of the case came against a backdrop of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality, particularly against African Americans. Both the police officer and the victim were white in this case.
The attorney general suggested there’s a high legal bar to bring charges against the police officer.
“This is a case with several complicated factors, including consideration of whether or not the state can disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.