AUBURN — A Mexico man is suing the Lewiston Police Department and the estate of an officer who died in 2019 from an apparent drug overdose, claiming the late officer’s drug addiction resulted in an illegal arrest.

Norman Thompson awaits trial in 2019 in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn stemming from a November 2018 police chase. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal file photo

Norman “Bo” Thompson, 49, was convicted at a jury trial in September 2019 on five counts stemming from an attempted traffic stop in November 2018.

Nicholas Meserve, a 10-year veteran at the Lewiston Police Department, had assisted in a car and foot chase that resulted in Thompson’s arrest and charges that included two felonies, eluding and officer and passing a roadblock, as well as three misdemeanors, driving to endanger, failing to stop for an officer and criminal mischief.

Thompson was sentenced to two years in prison.

He also was found to have violated the terms of probation he was serving at the time of his arrest, earning him an additional 45 months behind bars.

Those two sentences were to be served one after another.

In the complaint, he said he expects to start serving his two-year sentence next month.

Thompson wrote in his civil complaint, filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court last week, that he was incarcerated at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston.

He said he was sentenced improperly and has had to serve time resulting from the named defendants’ “collective negligent, wrongful and illegal procedure due to the underlying criminal conduct of Defendant Meserve (deceased.)”

Other defendants include the city of Lewiston and the Maine Department of Corrections.

Acting Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre said Thursday that his department hadn’t been served with the complaint and that he hadn’t had an opportunity to see what was alleged in the lawsuit.

Thompson filed the complaint last week and indicated he is representing himself.

Nicholas Meserve Submitted photo

“On Feb. 8, 2019, the arresting officer, Nicholas Meserve, was found dead in his apartment in Lewiston as the result of an apparent overdose. It was later and continuously discovered that Officer Meserve was, and had been, a regular serious street drug user and addict, often stealing evidence to support his own habit and finances,” Thompson wrote in his complaint.

He claims in his lawsuit that his arrest was “defective, tainted and fundamentally illegal due to Officer Meserve’s drug use, criminal behavior of his own, and clear inability to accurately or professionally conduct any sort of police action at the time of” Thompson’s arrest.

He wrote that he was “unjustly arrested under ‘shady’ circumstances that later came to light.”

Because of his arrest and incarceration, Thompson claimed that he has suffered significant emotional and financial damages.

He said he is the victim of “gross and contributory negligence” on the part of all the defendants.

“There was never any system of checking in with Officer Meserve as he continued for years to use and abuse drugs, including events leading up to the night of Mr. Thompson’s arrest,” according to the complaint.

In particular, a “serious breach” within the Lewiston Police Department “allowed Meserve to continue to serve as an officer all the while using, selling, and in some instances, stealing drugs, often intended as evidence.”

Thompson said Meserve “had absolutely no business being anywhere near any alleged crime scene and certainly was not fit to place the plaintiff under arrest.”

He asserted his sentence should be vacated due to “faulty arrest and unconstitutional sentencing.”

Thompson argued in his complaint that he was wrongfully sentenced and incarcerated because the court had no knowledge as to whether Meserve was under the influence at the time of Thompson’s arrest.

“The Lewiston Police Department essentially covered up Meserve’s behavior and habit and there is simply no reasonable way it can be concluded that Meserve was thinking rationally or honestly on the night of Mr. Thompson’s arrest and subsequent incarceration,” according to the complaint.

Then-Lewiston Police Chief Brian O’Malley said in a statement in May 2019 that his department conducted regular reviews of an officer’s use of force, sick time use, job performance evaluations and complaints from the public. O’Malley said there was nothing in those reviews or observations of other officers that indicated Meserve might have been battling drug dependency or addiction.

Thompson said he is seeking monetary damages to cover lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and attendant medical costs, lost time and professional services.

At a pretrial hearing in August 2019, Thompson argued through his attorney a motion to suppress any testimony from Meserve.

The trial judge granted his motion.

At about the same time, Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson had said his office was taking steps “to inform all defense counsel when we believe that there is an issue” with the involvement of Meserve in an arrest.

Prosecutors had given Thompson’s criminal attorney, Paul Corey, a video featuring Meserve that showed an arrest on Jan. 18, 2019, at which Meserve assisted a Maine State Police trooper who made a traffic stop that resulted in the arrest of a suspect who was later charged with aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs.

The Sun Journal obtained a copy of the video after filing a Freedom of Access Act request with the Lewiston Police Department.

According to an affidavit written by the trooper making the stop, 86 grams of fentanyl bricks were found rolled up in pajama pants in the backpack of Jamil Dabson, 33, of New York, when police stopped the taxi he was riding in at Main and Sabattus streets. Meserve arrived at the scene later to assist. He was asked to retrieve items that had fallen out of Dabson’s backpack when he tried to flee on foot.

Those charges were later be dismissed.

A summary report provided by prosecutors said Meserve died from acute fentanyl intoxication and that “Mr. Meserve was an addict who consumed illegal drugs daily for at least two years prior to his death.”

Charges against Dabson were dismissed by Assistant Attorney General John Risler during a July 2019 plea hearing at which he said Meserve had “slipped some of the drug evidence into his pants pocket while outside the view of other officers.”

Thompson was no stranger to drug addiction.

In a 2009 Sun Journal feature story, Thompson recounted his history of drug abuse, beginning at age 15, when he started smoking cocaine.

He eventually supported his habit, he said, by breaking into cars and homes, stealing electronics that he could sell for extra cash.

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