AUGUSTA – Maine law enforcement officers used deadly force thirteen times in two thousand seventeen, leaving nine people dead by gunfire.
Attorney general Janet Mills thinks there is a better way and has formed a task force to dig into the matter.
It was one year ago when two young Mainers lost their lives on a dirt road in Vassalboro during a police shooting.
Now the attorney general has created a task force to see if this type of incident can be prevented.
“There seems to be an increase in the number and level of these confrontations, these potentially lethal confrontations,” Janet T. Mills, Maine Attorney General, said Wednesday. “I want to get to the bottom of it before we lose another life.”
The 13- member task force created by Mills, who is a Democrat running for governor, will investigate the roles drug use, mental health and domestic violence play in lethal incidents involving law enforcement, in order to determine is there are ways to prevent the incidents from escalating.
Ambroshia “Amber” Fagre, 18, of Oakland and Kadhar Bailey, 25, of Gardiner died on February tenth a year ago in a shower of police bullets. Their families are still waiting for the AG’s office to finish their investigation.
“We’re looking for answers about why amber was shot and why she died as she did,” Hunter Tzovarras, a Bangor attorney representing the family. “And depending on what those answers reveal, it may lead to a lawsuit against one or more of the police officers, and hopefully justice for amber and her family.”
Fagre’s mom, Jessica, said Wednesday that after a year, she’s still waiting for answers. Both she and the family’s attorney think the task force is a step towards progress.
“I really think it’s a good thing. It’s a step in the right direction,” Tzovarras said. “There has been, what I would say is a disproportionate amount of police shooting for the state of Maine for the size of the state. Any task force that is looking to cut back on that and provide answers is always welcome.”
The task force meets for the first time on march 6. They are expected to have recommendations later this year.