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State v. Gadson

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

May 16, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
MICHELLE GADSON Defendant and STATE OF MAINE
v.
ISAIAH GADSON Defendant

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          Nancy Mills Justice.

          Before the court are defend ants' motions to dismiss the complaints against them because of alleged police misconduct. Hearing was held on March 16, 2017. Briefs were filed on April 3, 2017, The court has considered the evidence and arguments of counsel. For the following reasons, the motions are denied.

         FACTS

         Brent Abbott has been employed by the Portland Police Department for more than five years. On July 4, 2016, he responded before 9:00 p.m. to a report of an assault on a security guard at Bayside Village, a large apartment complex in Portland. He had also been instructed to "criminal trespass" defendant Michelle Gadson, and had told her to leave the premises.

         Officer Abbott was watching security video footage with two other security officers behind the counter in the lobby of Bayside Village. Defendant Isaiah Gadson, who lived at Bayside Village, entered the lobby, Mr. Gadson is nineteen years old, is 6'5", weighs 250 pounds, and works in the Old Port as a bouncer. He expected to meet his mother, Ms, Gadson, at Bayside Village after the fireworks that evening.

         There were four people and the officers in the lobby at Bayside Village. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson walked into the lobby quickly and stopped at the counter. His arms were raised, consistent with making an inquiry. (St.'s Ex, 14.) He asked who had criminal trespassed his mother.

         Officer Abbott immediately walked around the counter and approached Mr. Gadson, who did not move and who had his arms pointed down in front of him. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott pushed Mr. Gadson with both hands, pointed to the door, and told Mr. Gadson to leave. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott continued to speak to Mr. Gadson, who did not move and kept his arms down in front of him, (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott was saying, "go." (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson responded that he lived there and did not have to leave.

         Officer Abbott then pulled his taser, pointed it directly in Mr. Gadson's face, and "dotted his forehead." (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson reacted and stepped back but remained standing where he was with his arms down in front of him. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott raised the taser again and continued to point to the door and to order Mr. Gadson to leave. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott then looked away from Mr. Gadson and spoke on his radio. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson turned and walked toward the door. Officer Abbott shoved the taser into Mr. Gadson's back and kept the taser pointed at Mr. Gadson's back as Officer Abbott followed Mr. Gadson to the door. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott pushed Mr. Gadson out of the lobby toward the outside and followed him with the taser still in Officer Abbott's hand. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson did not use force. (St.'s Ex. 14.) At this point, Mr. Gadson had not committed a crime.

         Outside, five people and another officer were present initially but those numbers increased. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott continued to speak in an aggressive manner to Mr. Gadson. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson's brother stepped toward Mr. Gadson and Office Abbott, and the brother extended his arm between the two. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson continued to stand with his arms down in front of him. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott moved closer to Mr. Gadson, who backed up, and his brother moved his body between Officer Abbott and Mr. Gadson. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Mr. Gadson backed up again as Officer Abbott approached. (St.'s Ex. 14.)

         Officer Abbott then walked off the porch and shoved with both hands another spectator who was speaking but not acting aggressively. (St.'s Ex. 14.) Officer Abbott then engaged in a conversation with that person and approached the person closely. (St.'s Ex. 14.) The other officers stood by. (St.'s Ex. 14.) The potential for this situation to deteriorate was great.

         Officer Bennis, a Portland Police Department officer of thirteen years, was dispatched to Bayside Village as additional back up. Officer Bennis was concerned about the crowd, which remained excited because of the previous incident, and tried to contain the crowd.

         Officer Bennis called for additional police back up. Members of the crowd were yelling and there was significant commotion. (Defs.' Ex. 1.) Sergeant Noyes arrived at Bayside Village at 9:06 p.m. in response to the call for additional help, and spoke to Ms. Gadson. She was standing in the road because she was not allowed on the property. Sergeant Noyes asked her to step out of the road because traffic was passing very close to her. (Defs.' Ex. 1.) She continued filming the scene. (Defs.' Ex. 1.) Officer Bennis asked her again to move and told her she was obstructing a public way. She did not move, ignored Officer Bennis's requests, and continued filming. (Def.'s Ex. 1.)

         Sergeant Noyes placed Ms. Gadson's arm behind her back to arrest her and tried to put handcuffs on her. Members of the crowd, including Mr. Gadson, moved quickly toward Sergeant Noyes and Ms. Gadson. Mr. Gadson yelled, "do not touch my mother."

         The ensuing events are difficult to identify on the video, the beginning of which the court has viewed many times, partly because a car passed between the camera and the scene at a critical time. (Defs.' Ex. 1, Stream 1.) At least three civilians were between Mr. Gadson, Sergeant Noyes and Ms. Gadson as the civilians approached Sergeant Noyes and Ms. Gadson. It does not appear ...


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