The Maine State Police said it has looked into and has not substantiated allegations that its 2019 Trooper of the Year award was given to a trooper accused of racial profiling during multiple traffic stops as a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The review of allegations about Trooper John Darcy came in response to a February complaint from state Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent from Friendship. Evangelos rejected the findings this week and demanded that Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck conduct a “credible investigation” into the allegations.
On Wednesday, Sauschuck told Evangelos that the state’s Office of Employee Relations reviewed the allegations against Darcy in connection with the Trooper of the Year award and said that “they were not substantiated.”
Saushuck’s email to Evangelos did not directly address the racial profiling allegations and also did not say if allegations about racial profiling were being investigated.
Evangelos, who shared copies of his communications with Sauschuck with the Bangor Daily News, rejected Sauschuck’s findings, pointing to 27 traffic stops that the legislator said are evidence of racial profiling.
“The culture of cover up of systemic misconduct within the Maine State Police and our county sheriff’s departments continues unabated,” Evangelos said. “Clearly, we are experiencing a police state in Maine, unaccountable to the rule of civilian law.”
Evangelos, who serves on the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which has been gathering information on racial profiling by police in Maine, filed his complaint on Feb. 10. Darcy received the coveted honor in November.
Allegations of Darcy’s racial profiling became public last fall after the U.S. attorney’s office dropped criminal charges against a Black man the trooper pulled over in August 2019.
The defense attorney in that case pointed to Maine State Police video of the traffic stop as evidence of racial profiling, the Portland Press Herald reported last October.
Darcy can be heard in the video saying the driver looked “like a thug” because “he’s wearing a wifebeater” and “he’s got dreads.” He is then heard telling the other trooper in the cruiser that he is not racially profiling the driver, the Press Herald reported.
In at least three other cases, federal judges are considering motions to suppress evidence based on Darcy’s traffic stops in which drugs were confiscated from Black defendants. In a fourth, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine will support a federal defender’s efforts to suppress evidence Darcy collected at a traffic stop.
Evangelos had also asked Sauschuck to examine “the motives behind the presentation of this award to Darcy by the high command of the Maine State Police.”
In response, Sauschuck said the nomination process for the 2019 Trooper of the Year award began in February 2020. “Trooper Darcy was selected as the Trooper of the Year well before the allegations of racial profiling were brought forward,” he said.
He received the award about two months after the U.S. attorney’s office dropped charges against the man Darcy had pulled over.
Evangelos rejected that statement.
“Your choice to reference timing rather than the actual substance of Darcy’s racial profiling incidents further undermines the public’s confidence in law enforcement,” he said. “When the state police high command went through with this award on November 10, 2020, they most certainly did know about Darcy’s racial profiling and good and honest practice should have resulted in the award being withdrawn before it was made.”