A federal magistrate sided with Lewiston police Thursday in recommending a summary judgment decision for the city and its police officers against a New Gloucester woman who was shot in the neck in 2009 after a high-speed chase.
Kristy Lee Cookson, 31, filed the 2011 lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maine against the city, police Chief Michael Bussiere and three city police officers.
Cookson claimed the officers were negligent, that the chief failed to train the officers properly and that her constitutional rights had been violated.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rich III wrote in his 17-page decision that a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants should be granted.
Cookson has 10 days to file her objection to the magistrate’s ruling, in which case the entire lawsuit will be reviewed anew by a U.S. District Court judge. If she does nothing, the magistrate's recommendation will take effect.
Edward Benjamin, attorney for the defendants, said Friday, “I clearly think it was the only proper decision on the facts of this case.”
Sarah Churchill, attorney for Cookson, could not be reached for comment Friday.
On Dec. 1, 2009, Cookson led police on a chase through downtown Lewiston in a stolen pickup, reaching speeds of 80 mph through the area of the city where Bates College campus is located.
She crashed the truck into a parked car. When she refused to get out of the truck and the vehicle suddenly lurched in the direction of two local police officers, one of the officers shot at the truck’s front tire. Later, as she continued to escape in the truck, both officers fired their weapons. A bullet struck Cookson in the neck. She was incapacitated by a Taser before being subdued by police and removed from the truck.
The round that hit Cookson apparently mushroomed when it passed through the truck’s window. The slug lodged in her neck muscle in front of her vertebrae and behind her esophagus, according to court records. The surgeon who removed it called Cookson "very lucky." She was released from the hospital soon after her surgery and went to Androscoggin County Jail.
Cookson served 238 days of a four-year sentence followed by four years of probation on charges of eluding an officer, criminal operating under the influence and reckless conduct.