State AG mum after case made to reopen fatal 2007 police shooting in Waldoboro

By Stephen Betts | Jun 16, 2019
A 2007 police photo of the car that was stopped along Friendship Road in Waldoboro. Gregori Jackson, 18, was a passenger in the car. Jackson’s hat and the police officer’s can of mace are visible on the ground near the rear tire. Jackson was shot and killed by reserve officer Zachary Curtis after a foot chase that ended in a densely wooded area.

Augusta — The Maine Attorney General's Office declined to comment Saturday, June 15, about a Friday meeting in which advocates for the parents of an 18-year-old man, who was shot dead 12 years ago by a Waldoboro police officer, asked for the case to be reopened.

"The Office of the Attorney General does not have any comment, either on your specific questions or the matter in general. This will be our response to inquiries on this matter going forward as well," spokesman Marc Malon said.

Independent Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship said Saturday he could not comment on details of the meeting other than to say that Attorney General Aaron Frey was extremely attentive during the two-and-a-half hour meeting.

A team that consists of attorney Amy Fairfield and Evangelos has asked for the Sept. 23, 2007, shooting death of Gregori Jackson by then-Waldoboro reserve police officer Zachary Curtis to be investigated again by the state. District Attorney Natasha Irving also has asked for the case to be reopened.

The Maine Attorney General's Office concluded in November 2007 that the shooting was legally justified.

The effort to reopen the investigation came after Evangelos submitted a bill before the Legislature to create a new panel to review police shootings. Fairfield and the legislator me with the Jackson family, and after months of review of the evidence, asked for the new investigation.

Jackson's parents, Natalie and Millard Jackson of Whitefield, also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Curtis and Waldoboro, but a federal judge sided with the defendants in the civil case.

Irving said June 9 the physical evidence at the shooting scene should result in a new investigation. She also said criminal action by Curtis since the shooting also should lead investigators to question his credibility in statements he made after the shooting.

"Do we believe this unbelievable rendition [by Curtis], or the physical evidence?" the Midcoast's top prosecutor asked June 9.

Evangelos also said June 9 the physical evidence he has reviewed also does not match what Curtis claimed occurred.

Murder investigations are handled by the Attorney General's Office.

The 2007 shooting occurred after a traffic stop on Friendship Road. Curtis determined that Jackson, a passenger in the car, had violated bail conditions on prior operating under the influence and failure to stop for an officer charges, police said. The alleged violation was that Jackson had been drinking.

When Curtis tried to arrest Jackson, the youth resisted and was pepper-sprayed by the officer. Jackson ran down the road and then into the woods, pursued by Curtis.

The officer claimed that at that point Jackson resisted arrest and the teen struck Curtis with a log. The officer further claimed that Jackson got on top of him, was trying to choke him and then put his hand on the officer's gun.

Curtis said he drew his service weapon and shot Jackson multiple times. The youth died at the scene of the shooting.

The lawsuit by Jackson's parents, however, claims that Jackson had no weapon and had been struck multiple times by the officer, who used an expandable metal baton. The officer then shot Jackson five times, which resulted in wounds to Jackson's back, chest and head.

In a brief phone interview two weeks ago with Matt Byrne of the Portland Press Herald, Curtis, who now lives in Camden, declined to talk about what happened in Waldoboro 12 years ago and declined to comment on the possibility that the shooting may be reexamined. He said he had struggled with mental health problems because of the shooting, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I don’t like to talk about it,” Curtis said in the Portland article. “I’ve got some mental health issues because of it.”

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