'He's trying to kill me,' cop says in video

AUBURN — A Lisbon man who rammed two police cruisers and chased a third one with a dump truck wasn't aware of what he was doing because of his war experience and a brain injury, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Auburn police officers stand near one of two cruisers — this one is at the intersection of Hotel and Kittyhawk roads — damaged by a truck driven by Bartolo Ford, 49, of Lisbon. Ford is standing trial this week on a charge of attempted murder in connection with the case.

Bartolo Ford trial begins
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Bartolo Ford, 49, of Lisbon looks for his family during a break at the start of his trial Tuesday morning in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn.

Opening arguments
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Deputy District Attorney Craig Turner gives his opening remarks in the trial of Bartolo Ford in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Tuesday morning.

Opening statement
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Darrick Banda addresses the jury to begin his defense of Bartolo Ford in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Tuesday morning.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

An Auburn police officer and a state trooper stand near an Auburn cruiser at Hotel and Kittyhawk roads in Auburn in 2008. The cruiser was damaged by a truck driven by Bartolo Ford, 49, of Lisbon. Another was rammed several miles down the road near the Poland Spring Water Co. plant entrance in Poland. Ford is standing trial this week on a charge of attempted murder in connection with the case.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Auburn police officers stand near one of two cruisers — this one is at Route 122 near the entrance to Poland Spring Water Co. plant in Poland — damaged by a truck that was stolen from Superior Concrete Co. in Auburn in 2008. Bartolo Ford, 49, of Lisbon is standing trial this week on a charge of attempted murder in connection with the case.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Evidence sits on the side of Hotel Road at the intersection of Constellation Drive in Auburn.

Bartolo Ford, 49, was shot in the hip by one of the officers who jumped out of his smashed cruiser and fired at Ford.

That was two years ago. On Tuesday, Ford was sitting in an Androscoggin County Superior Courtroom defending himself on six related felony charges, including aggravated attempted murder, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. A seventh charge was changed to a misdemeanor.

On the first day of his trial, prosecutors showed nighttime video from the cruisers as they were rammed after high-speed chases, at least one clocked at speeds faster than 80 mph in a 35 mph zone. It also showed Cpl. Kristopher Bouchard fire four shots at the truck Ford was driving.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Turner told the jury of five men and nine women (including two alternates) about the chain of events the night of Sept. 15, 2008, that included three cruisers being disabled and a fourth being chased before Ford's eventual arrest. Four police officers testified that they tried unsuccessfully to get Ford to surrender.

The trouble began when Ford allegedly was spotted stealing two concrete cylinders from a company on Minot Avenue. When confronted by an officer, Ford fled in the Ford truck with a dump truck bed holding two well tiles. When the truck hit a bump at a bridge on Hotel Road, one of the cylinders fell off and shattered in the road, puncturing the tire of the cruiser driven by Officer David Madore.

Ford stopped for Bouchard, then backed into his cruiser twice at high speed, disabling the car.

Officer Matthew Johnson took up the chase. He caught up to Ford at the Poland Spring entrance. Ford stopped, then rammed Johnson's cruiser head-on after turning his truck around.

“He's trying to kill me,” Johnson can be heard shouting into his radio on the video footage that was played for the jury.

After Ford apparently attempted to ram a third cruiser, his truck was found abandoned on Hines Road in Poland. He had fled on foot, but was arrested later and taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center where he was treated for his hip injury.

All of the officers involved in the chase that night said they saw only one person in the truck and that person matched Ford's description.

Darrick Banda, one of Ford's lawyers, told the jury during opening statements Tuesday that his client remembered little about the events of that night. He said he wouldn't dispute much of the detail given by police about what happened. But for the jury to find Ford guilty on all counts, prosecutors must prove more than that, he said.

“To be guilty of a crime takes more than someone committing bad acts,” Banda said. It's “what's in a person's mind,” that makes it a crime.

“His mental illness caused him to commit these alleged bad acts,” Banda said. For that reason, Ford didn't have the “intent” to murder Officer Johnson, as the Androscoggin County grand jury indictment charging Ford with aggravated attempted murder reads, Banda said.

Other counts in the indictment use words like “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly,” he said.

Ford, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, “saw things no one should have to see,” Banda said. “He saw death; he saw destruction,” Banda said. And sometimes, he saw people dismembered.

The experience damaged him emotionally, leading to “classic symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He may encounter things in life that trigger flashbacks,” Banda told the jury. On Sept. 15, 2008, Ford was stressed about a property dispute with neighbors. His anti-depression medication had been doubled. He told his wife he was taking their truck to fill it with gas. She saw him next in the hospital.

He didn't remember what happened, except being shot and officers telling him to raise his hands, Banda said.

“When he learned what he had done, it crushed him to the point where he wanted to end his life,” Banda told the jurors.

“He thought he was in the Gulf War,” Banda said, likening his client to John Rambo in the Sylvester Stallone movie, “First Blood.”

Ford's PTSD, a brain injury from a car accident and heavy medication caused a perfect storm for the events of that night, Banda said.

A doctor will testify that Ford was psychotic at that time, Banda said.

The trial is expected to continue through the end of the week.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Did getting caught stealing trigger his flashbacks????

Bullsh_t ....he was caught redhanded and now the lawyer is using his time in the reserves as an excuse...I can't believe that this grown man is such a loser that he is allowing this defense...take it like a man and grow up..Rambo my a_s..

 's picture

Oh come on...

Seriously....he just needs to go to jail.

Judith Abbott's picture

What a Sham

Mr. Ford who allegedly was spotted stealing two concrete cylinders from a company on Minot Avenue and when confronted by a police officer, he decides to go on a rampage. And his defense is the Desert Storm War that happened 20 years ago! Give me a break. He's just a petty thief, now trying to use his military experience as a scape goat for his bad behavior.... Send him to prison...
Retired Vet

 's picture

Anybody that knows Mr. Ford,

Anybody that knows Mr. Ford, knows how much of a joke this defense is. He is one piece of work. To have that much material in his back yard that was stolen, please. Look at his past, he is well know amongst the local police department, and it is not from doing positive things. This is no more than using PTSD as a excuse, and it is a shame to the people who really suffer from this problem. Hope you get what you deserve Mr. Ford, and that is many years behind bars, where you can not be a problem in today society.....

Did you read the story??

maybe you need to read the story again ..

RONALD RIML's picture

DR - No Cigar for you either, Sports Fan.....

A criminal conviction in a court of law makes one a 'Criminal'

Until then, there is a legal presumption of innocence.

RONALD RIML's picture

So you gave up "Seeking the Truth" - interesting.....

Now perhaps the Judge in all of your cases had no problems with you being referred to as a criminal before you were found guilty; but if I ever referred to a defendant (when testifying in Court) as a 'Criminal' before they were found guilty, the defense was sure to object, and the Judge would uphold it.

Let us know your criminal justice system experience and education. Once I've had a chance to digest that, perhaps I'll defer to your judgement - but not quite yet.

RONALD RIML's picture

Who's ridiculed you???

I merely asked you to recount your experience and knowledge of the 'Criminal Justice System'

Both sides of it.

But you merely sit there and run you mouth (keyboard).

All you've presented so far are opinions - and like another part of one's body - everyone has those.

 's picture

at least the officers were

at least the officers were trained well enough to only shot him in the hip. brain injuries are strange things where not even experts can always agree about medications, side effects, "triggers", theropies, etc. i hope they find something for that works for this guy.

RONALD RIML's picture

"Trained well enough to only shoot him in the hip" - ???

Centarie2000 - What Galaxy is that which you're from???

Ford was still in his truck when he was shot. Obviously 'reading comprehension' is not in your quiver of arrows, Ma'am....

The Officer's adrenalin was most likely in double overload at the time of the shooting, and unless he's had many hundreds of hours out on the range with proper training - he's not going to pull those hat-tricks you see on TV....

And yes - I WAS a state certified 'Police Firearms Instructor' back in the day.....

 's picture

In your dreams or in a mental

In your dreams or in a mental institute?

RONALD RIML's picture

mbthgedragon...

I should still have the certification around....

How much $$$ do you want to lose??

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