A lawsuit against county police in the shooting death of Daniel W. Bennett II has been moved from the state court in Paris to the U.S. District Court in Portland.

Peter Marchesi of Waterville, who is representing Oxford County and the police officers named in the suit, moved the civil case from Oxford County Superior Court to the federal court early this week.

He has answered the complaint only on the behalf of the county and Lt. James Miclon, even though five others are named in the suit filed by Bennett’s family in January.

Miclon said Wednesday that only he and the county have been summoned at this point. Papers filed on behalf of Miclon and the county had to meet a certain deadline after the two received official notification they were being sued.

Marchesi did not return phone calls to the Sun Journal on Tuesday or Wednesday, but wrote in a court document that he transferred the case out of Superior Court because the suit against the police involves constitutional law.

Attorney Thomas Connolly of Portland is representing the family of Bennett, who was killed six years ago by Oxford County deputies. He said he was not surprised by the transfer. “The federal court is a lot less plaintiff friendly,” he said by phone Tuesday.

This case centers around two Oxford County deputies who shot Bennett, 32, on Jan. 21, 2000, after he allegedly killed a dog with a baseball bat and was also allegedly threatening to hurt at least one family member at his Sumner home.

Named in the suit from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office are Lt. Christopher Wainwright, Sgt. Matthew Baker, Sheriff Lloyd “Skip” Herrick, Chief Deputy James Davis and Lt. Miclon. State Trooper Timothy Turner is also named.

Connolly called Wainwright the primary defendant, the one who fired the shot that killed Bennett.

Currently, Wainwright is running for the GOP nomination for Oxford County sheriff.

Marchesi answers the allegations that the police officers wrongfully killed Bennett paragraph by paragraph, but not in detail.

Mainly he writes that the defendants either do not have sufficient knowledge to respond to a specific allegation and therefore deny it, or outright deny that something occurred.

Connolly states that the shooting of Bennett involved excessive force, “shocked the conscience” and was intentionally done or with reckless disregard for the rights of Bennett.

He asserts that police escalated a situation that involved a mentally ill man whose mother had asked police earlier in the day to take him to a mental institution.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office found the use of force was justified in the death of Bennett, because Bennett fired a shotgun at the two deputies and attempted to reload it after being shot.

Connolly said in a recent interview, though, that the circumstances surrounding Bennett’s death differ from the police report.



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