The Maine Attorney General’s Office on Thursday found that a Marine Patrol officer and part-time Washington County deputy sheriff was justified in shooting and wounding a Machiasport couple in 2017.
Jason M. Jackson, 37, had his left arm amputated above the elbow after the Dec. 9, 2017, shooting at the home of Tiffany Smith, 35, who also was shot in the incident by Matthew Carter.
Thursday’s report by Attorney General Aaron Frey said that after attempts to deescalate the situation with Jackson, who pointed a gun at Carter off and on during a 90-minute standoff, Jackson brandished his unloaded gun at the officer with his finger on the trigger. As Carter, who was new to the Marine Patrol, fired seven shots, Smith moved in front of Jackson and into the bullets’ path.
Carter told investigators that he feared for his life and the lives of his fellow officers at the scene when he pulled the trigger. The standard for officers firing their service weapons is that they fear for their lives, the lives of their fellow officers, witnesses and/or bystanders.
The incident that led to the shooting began in East Machias when a woman told police that Jackson had entered her home with a gun and demanded money. He fled in his car and officers were told to be on the lookout for Jacskon.
Carter began pursuing Jackson in Machias but he fled to Smith’s home, where she lived with the couple’s two children. She refused Carter’s orders to leave but the children were removed, according to the attorney general’s report.
The report does not say how many times each Jackson and Carter were shot.
Jackson was charged in connection with the incident. In January, he was sentenced to eight years with all but 18 months suspended after pleading no contest to robbery, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, refusing to submit to arrest and other charges.
He is incarcerated at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Jackson will serve four years of probation after his release, which could be as early as Dec. 2, according to the Maine Department of Corrections website.
Jackson and Smith, who are no longer a couple, sued Carter and others in Washington County Superior Court in March 2019. The civil complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages due to “medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent impairment” they incurred as a result of the shooting. The case is pending, according to the court clerk’s office.
The Maine attorney general’s office investigates Maine police officers’ use of deadly force to determine whether they were legally justified in firing their service weapons. Investigators do not consider whether officers should have used alternative methods to diffuse a situation.
Last year, the Legislature created a Deadly Force Review Panel that will “identify whether there was compliance with accepted and best practices under the particular circumstances and whether the practices were sufficient for the particular circumstances or whether the practices require adjustment or improvement.”
In more than 100 reviews of police use of deadly force since 1990, the attorney general’s office has never found that an officer was not justified in his or her actions.