AG: Use of deadly force justified in Crowley-Smilek case

Ann Bryant, Sun Journal (file)

This was the scene after the shooting of Justin Crowley-Smilek in front of the Farmington Police Department on Nov. 11, 2011.

LEWISTON — Attorney General William J. Schneider announced Monday that his office has found that Farmington Officer Ryan Rosie was justified in using deadly force in the shooting death of Justin Crowley-Smilek late last year.

According to the AG's report, the shooting occurred during an armed confrontation in front of the Farmington Town Hall late on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011.

Rosie, who was hired by the Farmington Police Department in June 2011, was working the day shift with Officer Ted Neil. Both officers, who were in uniform, were inside the police station shortly before 11 a.m. when someone activated a buzzer that alerts officers inside that someone is waiting outside to speak with an officer.

That buzzer is also a voice communication connection to the Regional Communications Center in Farmington.

After hearing the buzzer, Rosie and Neil checked the front and rear entrances of the building, but found no one standing there, according to the report. A short time later, the buzzer sounded a second time and the officers again checked the front and rear entrances to the building, and found no one.

After answering the buzzer the second time, Rosie received a telephone call at 11:01 a.m. from the Regional Communications Center informing him that a person was waiting outside the Police Department to speak with an officer. He was also told that the person refused to provide his name and said that “there had better be two officers.”

Rosie went to the front entrance of the building and didn't see anyone there, but did see a man — later identified as Crowley-Smilek — walking away.

According to the report, Rosie shouted, “Sir, can I help you?”

Crowley-Smilek did not respond.

Rosie shouted again and Crowley-Smilek stopped walking, turned around and, with his hands in his coat pockets, started walking at a brisk pace straight toward the officer. He did not speak, according to the report, and Rosie did not know the man.

When Rosie instructed Crowley-Smilek to take his hands out of his pockets, Crowley-Smilek did not comply and continued toward Rosie.

The officer's marked police cruiser was parked nearby in front of the town hall and Rosie moved to the front of the cruiser so it would be between him and Crowley-Smilek.

Before Rosie reached the rear of the cruiser, Crowley-Smilek took his hands from his coat pockets and was holding a black handled knife with an exposed blade in his left hand. (It was later determined that the kitchen-type butcher knife had an eight-inch blade and five-inch handle.

Crowley-Smilek held the knife out at arm’s length in front of his body in a threatening display toward Rosie as he continued moving toward the officer.

According to the report, Rosie drew his service weapon when he saw the knife and asked Crowley-Smilek what he was doing. Crowley-Smilek responded, “You’d better kill me now.”

Crowley-Smilek ran at Rosie and the officer responded by moving away from him. Rosie continued to match Crowley-Smilek’s moves while keeping the cruiser between them. While Crowley-Smilek chased Rosie, he repeated two more times, “You’d better kill me now.”

At 11:05 a.m., Rosie used his lapel microphone to call for help.

The officer continued to match Crowley-Smilek’s movements, including changing directions in response to Crowley-Smilek. When Rosie was near the front of the cruiser, Crowley-Smilek charged at the officer while still holding the knife in front of him. Rosie fired his weapon until Crowley-Smilek fell to the ground.

At this point, Neil came out of the police station and, seconds later, Detective Marc Bowering was on scene.

Crowley-Smilek died at the scene shortly after being shot.

Under Maine law, for any person, including a law enforcement officer, to be justified in using deadly force in self-defense or the defense of others, two requirements must be met. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or someone else, and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat, according to the AG's report.

Based on the shooting investigation, AG Schneider concluded that, at the time Rosie fired his weapon, it was reasonable for Rosie to believe that deadly force was imminent, and it was reasonable for the officer to defend himself.

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Comments

RONALD RIML's picture

Been confronted by knife-wielding whack-jobs number of times

But I used pepper-spray and a blunt force object which I carried on my duty-belt to overcome the threat.

Don't leave the Station without 'em........

*Note - Brunswick PD failed to bring 'Night-Sticks' to incident in which they shot and killed subject armed with knife in a wheel-chair.

 's picture

I wonder too

And why are we suddenly getting so much more detail about this encounter than we ever got before? Where was the information hiding?

The fact remains that there were no witnesses to this encounter besides Ryan Rosie and Justin Crowley-Smilek.

 's picture

no surprise

Not making comment on this case, but on the trend overall.
when was the last time the use of excess force was not justified? I do not recall, ever, hearing that a police officer in Maine was reprimanded in anyway for the use of force on a citizen.
Is this just another rubber stamp approval by our attorney general?
Of the scores of uses of force, the dozens of departments, thousands of officers, is there never even one instance of wrongdoing?

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Terry the answer

Terry the answer to the question is quite simple. Officers are questioned about situations like this to weed out the trigger happy individules that would fire first and question later. Sadly some persons who are contiplating suicide and not u pto doing it themselves chose to confront a cop. Hence the term "suicide by cop". It is sad that these people could not get, or did not seek the help they required for whatever reason.

RONALD RIML's picture

It's simple

Don't give them what they want.

For the most part, Maine LEO's simply don't get enough experience in dealing with a wide range of unbalanced crazy folks on a daily basis as we city cops did just south of Chicago. Massive 'De-institutionalization' from Mental Hospitals occurred during the late '70's and early 80's - where many mental patients were released into the community and treated on an out-patient basis (if they were treated at all) Most were given SSI and lived in seedy old hotels and boarding houses. The roamed the streets during the day, upsetting the 'normal' population and often causing problems for the police. Jail wasn't their answer. We in Law Enforcement had to get real good as mental health workers - if we had a heart.

Help for the returned Vietnam Veterans was practically non-existent - we got crazy ones right into law enforcement. Some didn't last long. Many were damned good.

But simply because the law states you are justified in blowing someone away doesn't mean it's a good idea to do so.

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